Family and friends who try to help a loved one struggling with addiction get a lot of mixed messages: \u201cYou\u2019re one of the single greatest influences in your loved one\u2019s life.\u201d \u201cYou didn\u2019t cause it, you can\u2019t cure it and you can\u2019t control it.\u201d The first statement and the \u201cthree Cs\u201d of addiction recovery are often both true, making it a challenge to know how to help a drug or alcohol addict. So how do you help an addicted loved one if you\u2019re influential but aren\u2019t in control? How do you stay close to a drug addict but avoid enabling? Here are a few suggestions from two women who have come face-to-face with the harsh realities of addiction. What You Can't Do to Help an Addicted Loved One 1. Make Them Quit You can stage an intervention. And you may be successful. But you cannot force someone with a substance abuse problem to quit. Even in states that allow involuntary treatment, you can\u2019t make someone get sober or stay sober in the long-term. \u201cYou can keep throwing money at them, telling them what to do and trying to lift them up, but they have to commit to it,\u201d says Eve Goldberg, a mom who lost her 23-year-old son, Isaac, to an opiate overdose in 2013. \u201cI\u2019ve learned you have to let go. You can\u2019t control them or the situation, and the sooner you accept your lack of control, the sooner they can face the natural consequences of their actions.\u201d 2. Do the Work of Recovery for Your Loved One Even if the person you care for\u00a0goes to drug rehab, you can\u2019t do the work of recovery for them. You can\u2019t hold their hand in support groups or do the 12 Steps for them. You also can\u2019t prevent relapse. After Eve\u2019s son completed addiction treatment, everything was going well. He had a job and was rebuilding his life. He told his mom \u201cI\u2019m never going back to that bad place again.\u201d Months later, he spiraled back into active addiction. She tried to talk to him about the signs she was seeing. But he didn\u2019t want to admit to using. One night, Eve heard unusual breathing from his bedroom. When she checked on him, she couldn\u2019t wake him up. After six weeks in a coma, the doctors told Eve that Isaac was gone. Eve was well-educated about addiction. She stayed close to Isaac and kept the lines of communication open. Unfortunately, \u201cEven if you see the signs, you can\u2019t always do something about it.\u201d Addiction hijacks the brain, leading people to hide, lie, and manipulate to maintain their drug abuse. Isaac didn\u2019t want to die. He wanted to get better. But there is simply no logic in addiction. Carole Bennett, MA, is the\u00a0author\u00a0of\u00a0Reclaim Your Life: You and the Alcoholic\/Addict\u00a0and\u00a0Is There a Dry Drunk in Your Life?\u00a0and a counselor in private practice. After dealing with her own family\u2019s substance abuse for over 20 years, she learned, \u201cYou shouldn\u2019t babysit someone\u2019s recovery. You can be a participant in their healing, but from arm\u2019s length.\u201d For many, even those who ultimately maintain their recovery long-term, relapse is a common part of the process. Like other chronic diseases, it\u2019s not unusual for those struggling with addiction to need multiple episodes of treatment. \u201cSomeone can go to meetings, have a sponsor and be a poster child for AA but still relapse,\u201d says Bennett. \u201cIt\u2019s a vicious cycle, and the person has to be willing to reach out for help to stop it.\u201d 3. Accept Behavior That Violates Your Boundaries To avoid enabling your loved one, you have to set boundaries. This is how to help a drug or alcohol addict. Once you\u2019ve laid out your boundaries clearly with the person you care about, allowing those boundaries to be violated destroys your credibility and perpetuates your loved one\u2019s addiction. \u201cIf you don\u2019t follow through with consequences when someone violates one of your boundaries, your word is like quicksand,\u201d says Bennett. \u201cIf you say what you mean and mean what you say, even if they\u2019re mad at first, they\u2019ll respect you in the long-term.\u201d Boundaries can be basic. For example, the person has to be clean and sober if they\u2019re in your home. If the boundary is broken, Bennett recommends calmly saying, \u201cWe talked about this, and this doesn\u2019t work for me,\u201d or, \u201cI love you, but I can\u2019t go down this road anymore.\u201d Then you should follow through with the consequence. Holding firm to your boundaries may mean disengaging for a period of time\u2014or indefinitely. 4. Always Bail Out Your Loved One If you\u2019re trying to help a person struggling with addiction, you may want to or think you need to save them in certain situations. For example, substance abusers often struggle with their finances and sometimes get into trouble with the law. Many friends and family members of addicted loved ones try to help by bailing them out of jail, offering them money or paying for bills or lawyers. But if a drug addict knows they will always be saved, then they have less incentive to stop using. It\u2019s never easy to see an addicted loved one suffer. Your instinct is to help, but helping them doesn\u2019t mean always bailing them out of difficult situations. Of course, if an addicted loved one is really struggling to survive, then it would be necessary to take action, but it\u2019s also important for drug abusers to face the consequences of their actions. Reaching rock bottom is often when someone decides they can\u2019t continue feeding their addiction. \u201cSometimes love is letting them hit bottom,\u201d Bennett says. For evidence, she suggests going to an open AA meeting. \u201cMore often than not, you\u2019ll hear people say, \u2018Thank God my parent kicked me out\/said no.\u2019 As difficult as it is, you don\u2019t have the power to fix it. Only they do.\u201d What You Can Do to Help an Addicted Loved One 1. Get Educated about Addiction You can\u2019t help fight an enemy you don\u2019t understand. Learn about addiction. This means understanding addiction as best you can: the signs, the treatments, and the relapse triggers. Follow this learning up by talking to your loved ones about drugs and alcohol from an early age. While education is no guarantee of healthy choices, it can be a powerful tool in preventing drug abuse and finding a way into recovery. If your loved one goes into treatment, participate in any family programs that are offered. The education and encouragement that a drug rehabilitation center provides can help you support your loved one and take care of your own needs at the same time. Then continue to be a source of support and accountability post-treatment. This is often critical since this a time when drug cravings and triggers heighten the relapse risk. Bennett strongly recommends putting into place a\u00a0family recovery contract\u00a0when a loved one returns home from treatment or sober living. It\u2019s \u201ca plan for ones in recovery to incorporate doable, realistic goals AND consequences for falling short of those goals.\u201d She notes, \u201cIf the \u2018addict\u2019 doesn\u2019t live at home, a recovery contract is important with fewer stipulations, but not imperative.\u201d 2. Help a Loved One Find Treatment It\u2019s difficult to know how to help a drug addict without creating a co-dependent relationship. If you try to fix everything for them, then they won\u2019t be able to develop their own coping skills. But avoiding co-dependency doesn\u2019t mean you can\u2019t offer reliable support to an addicted loved one. One thing you can do to help a drug addict is to find a suitable therapist or treatment center for them. Research treatment facilities and counselors in your area who specialize in addiction. This is where being educated about addiction helps; you can do research on medical detox and inpatient treatment vs. outpatient treatment, and you can feel confident asking questions when you inquire about their programs. Offering an addicted loved one money may enable their addiction, whereas helping to fund therapy sessions can do the opposite. For many drug addicts, mental health issues are what lead to addiction. Substance abuse can also worsen their mental health, so for many addicts, mental health treatment is necessary. 3. Take Care of Yourself A critical lesson for Eve, mother of the son addicted to opiates, was the importance of being good to herself, regardless of whether her son was doing well. You can\u2019t control another person, but you can make healthy decisions for yourself. This is necessary if you want to have any hope of being able to support and encourage your loved one. For some people, groups like Al-Anon provide a safe place to get education and fellowship with others who are facing similar struggles. Others prefer seeing a therapist privately or joining a different type of support group. Whatever your path looks like, \u201cYou have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep looking forward, not back,\u201d Eve says. \u201cThere\u2019s no way to make sense of it. There\u2019s no reason why my son should\u2019ve died. Give yourself over to a higher power\u2014for me, it was the only way I could live my life.\u201d There\u2019s a lot of pain and grief involved when you love someone with a substance abuse problem. Your other family members and friends may not grieve in the same way as you and may have their own ideas about how to handle the situation. Eve started\u00a0BIGVISION\u00ae, an organization dedicated to helping young adults transition into sober life after rehab. Although her family had trouble understanding it at first, helping others suffering from the same illness that took away her son has been an integral part of her healing. 4. Talk about It with Your Loved One and Others Talking about addiction can be healing both for the person trying to overcome it and you, their loved one. An addicted person may be reluctant to come to you and ask for help, but an open dialogue is your best chance to be there for them when they need you most. \u201cWork on building a good relationship, without judging or accusing,\u201d Eve suggests. \u201cYou have to step back, you can\u2019t be on top of them all the time, or they won\u2019t trust that they can come to you.\u201d When you\u2019re trying to take care of yourself, nothing is more toxic to your healing than shame. Eve had many friends who struggled with addiction in their family but were too ashamed to talk about it. \u201cWe made a decision as a family to be up front about our struggles,\u201d she says. \u201cThe more you talk about it, the more you realize everyone has a story, everyone has been affected by addiction in some way.\u201d For Eve, speaking her son\u2019s name and telling his story is one way to keep his memory alive. \u201cI still cry when I tell Isaac\u2019s story, even two years later. And I can see people\u2019s faces cringe when I talk about my dead child. They don\u2019t know how to handle it,\u201d she says. \u201cBut I can\u2019t worry about making them uncomfortable. He\u2019s still my son and I won\u2019t pretend he didn\u2019t exist.\u201d The realities of addiction are painful. It\u2019s hard to hear that a loved one\u2019s life is at risk and you can\u2019t fix it. But once you accept certain realities, you may discover there\u2019s empowerment beyond the powerlessness. It\u2019s not always obvious how to help a person struggling with addiction, but there are steps you can take to help both them and you. Once you\u2019ve taken those steps, you can take solace in knowing you did all you could in the face of a devastating disease.