1. Breathe. When someone you care about is battling addiction the stress affects everyone, not just the addict. If you are chronically stressed and full of negative emotions this can affect your own mental and physical health. Take some deep breaths and get yourself under control before you attempt to deal with or talk to the loved one who has a problem. This will help you stay calm.
2. Be realistic about the outcome. Recovery takes time and effort, results won’t happen overnight, and relapses are often part of the substance abuse recover process. Patience and compassion are both important during this difficult time. If you expect to see instant changes then you will be disappointed and that can cause a negative reaction which could set the recovery process back.
3. Make the consequences clear and stand firm. Addiction can devastate families and destroy lives, and tough love is called for in this situation. You love the individual with the substance abuse problem but it is necessary to set boundaries and to outline clear consequences. This will help you prevent the alcohol or drug use from tearing your own life apart as well. Stay calm but enforce the consequences when this is warranted.
4. Talk with addiction and mental health professionals first. Then talk to the friend or relative with the substance abuse problem. Professionals can help you find the best way to broach the subject, and inform you on the best way to handle this type of problem. You can find qualified treatment programs, get professional assessments and recommendations, and even find ways to help yourself get through this very difficult time.