Dealing with addiction is very difficult for everyone, from the addict to their entire social circle. Often the ones who are affected the most are the family members. This is because of the proximity to the addict, of course, but also because the emotional stakes are always very high. A history with another human being means that there are many different memories that can all trigger different emotions, and all of these tend to arise when there are difficult circumstances. However, the family can certainly play a role in helping the recovery along, even if that role might sometimes be to step aside for awhile.
One of the most proactive things a family can do is to organize an intervention. This is where they team together, and work out how they are going to confront the family member about their addiction. It’s necessary here to take great care in planning, so that everyone has a kind of script for what they will say or do, anticipating all of the possible responses from the family member who is addicted. Usually, these are intended to get the family member into treatment, so they can begin to accept help and help themselves. There are professionals who do interventions, and this is a very good option for addicts who are cross-addicted, have histories of violence, suicidal tendencies, and other unstable behaviors. Of course, every addict has unstable behaviors, but some are more extreme than others. For this option, look into the advice from places like the Mayo Clinic, and be sure to take time to decide if this is right for you.
Interventions seem to be very effective, when done in the right way, but they are not a cure-all, and they are not always a reasonable option. In many cases, and possibly most, the family can only offer love and support to the addict. At times, this may even take the form of tough love, where the person has to hit a bottom before there can be any change. This is the toughest position to be in, but it is not unusual or uncommon. The best thing family members can do is to find their own support system. There are many groups, such as Al-Anon, designed specifically for family members and loved ones to cope with their own conflicted emotions. It’s a very difficult situation, always, but there is also always the possibility for growth. With the right attitude, and a strong social network, addiction does not have to destroy everyone.