When your loved one is struggling with addiction, it turns your world upside down. What was once familiar and normal becomes a frightening new world of chaos and confusion. After the initial shock and denial wear off, you are left with anger, hurt and pain. You might beat yourself up and question what you did wrong. It can get difficult to know what to do. Going through the intimate experience with a loved one struggling with addiction is traumatic. The devastating effects this illness has on families can create long-term physical, emotional, psychological, and relational scars.

Tough love

Tough love can be defined as a caring but strict attitude adopted toward a friend or loved one with a problem such as addiction, as distinct from an attitude of indulgence. The idea behind this approach is for parents to love their child suffering from the disease of addiction enough to consistently set firm limits and follow through on appropriate consequences when they are not followed. Another important precept of tough love is that addicts in recovery need to be responsible for their behavior and being held accountable for the bad choices they make.

Guidelines of tough love

Successful tough love has some guidelines. For instance:

  • Boundaries are clear. Some addicted people respond well when they know just how much they stand to lose by their addictive behavior. Keeping those consequences in mind can help motivate them to change.
  • Families are protected and empowered. If the addicted person simply will not change, the family members can move forward alone and focus on their own health.
  • Power is shifted. Many families feel controlled by the addiction of just one person. By defining the problem and outlining what they will do, they empower themselves to fight.
  • It can be effective. Addicted people do not respond to enabling behavior. When they hear a litany of real consequences, it can break through the armor of addiction and allow them to listen and change.

On the other hand, family members may find it difficult and heart breaking to leave their loved one suffering from the disease of addiction and may not be able to come up with appropriate strategies to prevent further progression of this disease. This is where the enabling comes to play.

Enabling an addict

Enabling is the polar opposite of tough love. It takes place when the family members and friends of an addict try to protect them from the consequences and suffering of their actions. It allows the addicts to continue happily along their drinking ways, secure in the knowledge that no matter how much they mess up, somebody will always be there to rescue them from their mistakes. It makes it easier for them to continue in the progression of the disease.

Tough Love and Family

Being tough with your family member may be challenging, but remember the opposite of tough is the process of enabling.  When you continue to offer physical or financial support for your family member, you are, in essence, purchasing their drugs and giving them a place to use them.  Ultimately, should your family member choose to get help and conquer their addiction disease, they will have you to thank for no longer giving them permission to self-destruct.

The disease of addiction may hinder and deprive the addict’s decision making capability which implies that the family now should take matters in their hands while adhering to the guidelines of tough love. Another approach to this would be consulting a treatment rehabilitation center and taking guidance from them. Most cases require crisis intervention as the addict doesn’t agree to come for treatment and that’s where the treatment rehabilitation center sends their crisis intervention team to bring the addict into treatment.

If you have questions about how to approach your loved one with a tough love intervention, you may visit PRC Rehabilitation Center Karachi for further clarity and queries.

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