Dealing with Substance Abuse at Home

If  a spouse or a child who still lives at home is addicted to drugs it can be very difficult to live with, especially if they become violent. It’s important to get them into drug rehab, but of course, you can’t force other adults to do this if they don’t want to. So how do you deal with the addiction and the violence? It is important if someone is violent for whatever reason to make sure you and your children remain safe.

Sometimes, the only way to do this is to leave. There are women’s shelters you can go to, or you might be able to stay with a friend or another family member until the danger is passed – until next time. Never confront such a person about their behaviour while they are angry or violent. Wait until they have calmed down and then tell them that if they don’t seek help you will need to leave.

Never think that their problem is your fault, even if they try to blame you. This is a cop-out for them; if they blame you then they don’t feel they have to change. If your loved one is not violent, but simply addicted to alcohol or drugs, encourage them to seek help by going to a treatment clinic or by joining Alcoholics Anonymous. Wait until they are relatively sober before suggesting it though, or they are unlikely to remember what you said or what they promised.

Meanwhile, it is important to get some help for yourself. You can go to counselling that is available for families of addicts. This will help to teach you how to cope with your loved one when they are intoxicated and how to help them when they are not. It gives you an insight into what they may be feeling or thinking, and what the drug does to them physically and mentally.

It will also give you ideas for coping with your own life at a time that is usually stressful. Here are some tips you may find helpful.

  • Leave the house often, especially when they are there and intoxicated.
  • You can go window-shopping, to the library, to a friend’s place or for a walk in the park.
  • Make sure you have many other interests in life such as hobbies, crafts, volunteer work and so on.
  • Get a job if you are able to. This will give you self esteem and get you out of the house.
  • Make sure you have your own bank account so you are not destitute. Even keeping it a secret may be necessary if your loved one is likely to beg you for money.
  • Leave if you feel unsafe at any time. This may have to be a permanent measure if your loved one is violent on a regular basis.