Everyone has some reason to worry about their loved ones as we help them with their everyday challenges and the stresses, fears, and tears that can come with them. However, there comes a point where being a shoulder to cry on isn’t enough. When it comes to signs of self-destruction, be they outbursts of aggression, alcoholism, or substance abuse, we can still help.
Broaching the subject
It’s undoubtedly intimidating to broach the subject of someone’s harmful habits or worrying behavior, especially if the topic hasn’t come up before. In order to make sure you broach the subject sensitively, you should try to learn more about the issue, but let them take the lead when it comes to talking about it. Acting like you have all the answers, or trying to diagnose it, can do more harm than good. The best way to learn about how someone’s mental health affects them is to learn their individual experiences.
Be there to offer options
If your loved one is willing to admit that they’re dealing with self-destructive behavior, that’s when you can be more informed than them. Be ready with steps towards a potential solution, such as finding a local councilor or signing up for treatment at a women’s drug rehab center. You can ask them if they would like you to look at more options, and to be at their side when, for instance, they visit a center or attend a support group. Treating a mental illness is confronting it, which can be scary so they may feel better with someone on their side.
Assist their change where you can
If your loved one does make an active effort towards recovering from their most harmful habits, you can still play a backseat role in helping them. For instance, they might have to make certain healthy changes in their life and change how they cope with certain stressors. For instance, if they have emotional triggers, like being in social spaces triggering their craving for alcohol, then being aware of those triggers and helping them avoid them can be important. It’s also important to be open to the fact that not all of your influence has been positive. For many people dealing with addiction, loved ones can act as enablers for some time before even recognizing it.
Take care of yourself
No-one should be sacrificing themselves to help a loved one, not even when it comes to major issues such as depression or substance abuse. Being willing to help, and to actively assist them on the road to recovery but you should also be ready to protect yourself. For instance, if they start demanding things of you that make you uncomfortable, such as lying on their behalf or enabling their self-destructive habits, you have to know when to say no.
If your loved one is dealing with self-destructive behavior, they are the only ones who can make the change that’s necessary for their life. You can help, but you’re not going to play the starring role in the story of their recovery and it’s important to recognize that.