While it may not have been a shock, many people are saddened by the news that singer Amy Winehouse has died, seemingly as a result of a lethal combination of alcohol and drugs. Many hoped that she would be able to beat her addictions and return to singing and performing. It’s no secret that Winehouse has struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol over the years. Her inebriated behavior led to the canceling of many performances and appearances. Her death leads us to think of our loved ones who may be struggling with addiction, and ask ourselves “How do we help them?”
If you believe a loved one has an addiction, read these five tips which may help you in your dealings with him or her:
- 1. Support: It’s important to be supportive of the person. Love the person, not the behavior. If your loved one feels judged, s/he may not turn to you for guidance about the help needed.
2. Know local resources: Become familiar with your local resources. For example, learn where and which local hospital deals well with addictions, and other community resources like detox programs and counseling services. If you know about these ahead of time, when your loved one is ready, you’ll be able to help guide him or her to a good and reputable resource.
3. Patience: It’s difficult to watch someone you love make bad choices over and over again. They may be damaging their health, finances, relationships and reputation, and they don’t see how bad it is or don’t care. As long as they and you are physically safe, you may have to sit by, watching the repetition of negative choices until he or she is ready to make a change. We cannot force someone to want to change, and that is where the need for patience comes in.
4. Boundaries: Having good boundaries with the addict is very important. While we cannot force someone to choose sobriety or to get help, we also do not have to contribute to that person’s poor choices. For example, if your loved one is an alcoholic, don’t go out to a bar with him. That’s called “enabling” and isn’t helpful.
5. Involuntary Treatment: If your loved one loses the ability to care for him or her self, it is possible to involuntarily commit him or her to treatment. In Florida, there are two state laws which may be helpful to know about: The Baker Act and The Marchman Act. The Baker Act allows a person to be involuntarily sent (involuntary civil commitment) to inpatient treatment if that person cannot take care of him or herself, or is a danger to himself or someone else. The Marchman Act is specifically for substance abusers. You can click here to learn more about The Marchman Act: http://www.marchmanacthelp.com/
Watching a loved one struggle with addiction can be draining and stressful. These tips are very general. Your loved one may be your spouse, and his or her choices directly impact you and possibly your children. Your loved one may be your best friend. Your loved one may be a parent. There are many services available if you would like more information and ask questions. Some professional Counselors offer complimentary phone calls where you can learn about that counselor and if that counselor’s services would be right for you or your loved one. And lastly, don’t forget to take extra good care of yourself while dealing with a loved one struggling with addiction. It is easier to show love, support and patience when you are well rested.
- Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous www.aa.org
About the Author:
Laura Peddie-Bravo, LMHC, NCC is a licensed and nationally certified counselor who has worked with substance abuse issues since 1997. Laura also works with children, adolescents and adults who deal with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, and more. If you would like to schedule a free 15 minute phone call with Laura, please call 407-248-0030.