Witnessing someone you care about battle a substance use disorder can be extremely distressing and take a heavy toll on your own mental and emotional well-being. Whether the drug abuser is a close friend, spouse, parent, child, or other family member, it’s easy for their addiction to take over your life. It can pile stress upon stress, test your patience, strain your bank balance, and leave you racked by feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear, frustration, and sadness.
You may worry about where your loved one is at any given time, their risk of overdosing, or the damage they’re doing to their health, future, and home life. You may be in debt from paying their living expenses, the cost of legal troubles resulting from their drug abuse, or from failed attempts at rehab and recovery. You may also be worn down by covering for your loved one at home or work, having to shoulder the responsibilities they neglect, or being unable to devote more time to other family, friends, and interests in your life.
As despairing as you may feel, you’re not alone in your struggle. A Pew Research Center survey in 2017 found that nearly half of Americans have a family member or close friend who’s been addicted to drugs. Across the Western world, the abuse of prescription pain relievers and tranquillizers has skyrocketed in recent years, creating a public health crisis. (Along with marijuana, they’re now among the most frequently abused drugs.)
Whether the problem is with recreational drugs or prescription medications, drug abuse and addiction can affect people from all walks of life, wrecking families, tearing relationships apart, and destroying lives. But there is help available. While you can’t force someone to tackle their addiction, your love, support, and patience can play a vital part in their recovery. With these guidelines, you can learn to support your loved one’s efforts, set the necessary boundaries to preserve your own health and welfare, and find some stability for both yourself and your loved one.