How to Say No to an Addict You Love

It can be hard to watch when a loved one is struggling with addiction. Addiction affects a person's physical, mental, social and financial well-being, which can have drastic effects on a person's quality of life.

Below, you'll learn how not to enable someone with addiction and what you can say to someone in recovery. You'll also learn how to properly support your loved one so they can get the help they need. 

What Is Enabling Behavior?

Enabling behavior is when a well-intentioned friend or family member provides support, financial assistance or care to someone with an addiction. A person can exhibit enabling behaviors before they even realize it. For example, a loved one may say they're struggling to pay their rent, so you offer to pay for a while until they get back on their feet. Down the line, you learn they've been using the money for drugs.

person who enables a loved one's substance use disorder often exhibits noticeable traits, such as:

  • Avoiding telling friends or family members about your loved one's substance use
  • Being in denial about your loved one's addiction
  • Excusing your loved one's substance use because they work hard or are under a lot of stress
  • Failing to talk about how your loved one's addiction makes you feel

Individuals who participate in enabling behaviors should face their emotions about their loved one's addiction. Taking the first step and admitting that there's a problem can help your loved one seek sobriety.

How to Support a Loved One Without Enabling

When your loved one is struggling with addiction, you want to do everything you can to help them. However, you don't want to go too far, enabling them to continue using drugs or alcohol. Here are ways to support your loved one through this challenging time without enabling them to further their addiction.

Learn How to Say No

One of the first and sometimes most challenging steps is learning to say no to the people you love. Someone who's addicted to substances can go through severe changes. When they once may have reacted calmly to you saying no, they may be more aggressive now. Your loved one may also try to see how far they can push beyond your boundaries.

When you say no, stick with it so your loved one doesn't take advantage. Some ways to learn how to say no include:

  • Stay calm: If your loved one acts angry or aggressive when you say no, remember to stay calm and explain why you can't do something like give them money or help them with something while you're at work.
  • Make it about them: Rather than making your rejection about their addiction, make it about your loved one so they feel like you care more about their health than their substance use. When you say no to your loved one and give a reason, explain the changes you've seen to their well-being to show you care.
  • Stay strong: Once you say no, it has to be final. If you cave and change your mind, your loved one can see that their manipulation works and may do it again. Keep saying no and stand your ground. If you have to, you can walk away from the situation.

See Past Manipulation

People struggling with addiction often become skilled at manipulation, even at the expense of someone they love. Someone who manipulates will lie, offer excuses and deceive to get what they want.

Your loved one may try to convince you that they aren't using, come up with an excuse for you to give them money or use some other deception to make you believe that a problem doesn't exist.

While you want to trust your loved one, it can be challenging when you know they're struggling with addiction. If you can't prove what they say is true or that they're actively seeking help for their addiction, they could be trying to manipulate you.

Offer Support

Some people believe tough love is the best way to help someone through addiction. However, tough love and cutting your loved one off can ultimately make them feel isolated. 

Instead, try to offer at least some level of support to your loved one. Your dedication to their recovery can be a significant motivator through their treatment. You can even show your support by helping them find addiction treatment programs that can provide them with the professional help they need.

Create an End Goal

An end goal can help you make tough decisions. If your goal is to get your loved one into rehab, you can put a condition on your support to help motivate your loved one. Remember to stay calm when you explain this boundary, and avoid making it an ultimatum.

If someone with an addiction asks for money, you can say that you'll stop helping your loved one until they see a professional because you don't want to contribute to their harm. While they might not react well initially, they may come around when they realize they need your support to get through their addiction. Remember to make your support about their health and well-being, not their substance use.

Prioritize Self-Care

Taking care of a loved one struggling with addiction is noble and requires a good heart. However, it can become overwhelming, especially if you can actively see the harm an addiction is doing to someone you care about. It's essential to protect your well-being so you can continue to offer quality support.

Sometimes, that means taking a break, setting boundaries and refusing to offer some types of support. For example, you may pay your loved ones rent to help them out, but it could be causing you excessive stress. You can prioritize yourself while still helping your loved one by saying that you'll support them emotionally, but you can't offer financial assistance anymore.

Another way you can support your loved one while giving yourself space to care for yourself includes helping them find an addiction treatment center. You can look for a rehab program with medically assisted detox, inpatient and outpatient programs and various types of therapy. You can also look for an addiction treatment program with aftercare planning to help prevent relapse.

Learn More About How to Help a Loved One at Diamond House Detox

We know how hard it is to watch someone you love struggle with addiction. You're likely worried about their well-being but can't find the right words to encourage them to seek help. If you're looking for addiction specialists who can help you get your loved one the addiction treatment they need, consider Diamond House Detox in Northern California.

We are specialists in addiction treatment and can help your loved one detox from alcohol and drugs as they undergo different therapeutic treatments. Your loved one will have access to 24/7 care when they stay at our residential facilityContact us today to learn more about how we can help your loved one overcome addiction.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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