It is never easy to watch someone you love struggle with an illness, but the three C’s of addiction recovery can help you support your loved one in their addiction recovery journey while also maintaining your own personal boundaries, says Katia S. Stoletniy, MD, addiction psychiatrist at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center.
"I didn’t cause it."
One of the most important things to remember about addiction is that you did not cause your loved one’s addictive behaviors.
"Although your loved one may cast blame at you, you must understand you did not cause it,” Stoletniy says. “Understanding what is and isn't under your control is the first step to set healthy boundaries and help your loved one in their journey to recovery.”
"I can’t cure it."
Addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or hypertension, and requires guidance from a medical professional. Addressing addiction requires both physical and mental lifestyle changes, Stoletniy says. Treatment options may include medical management of withdrawal symptoms, cognitive behavioral therapy, or residential rehabilitation. It can also include a combination of different treatments.
“It doesn't mean you will give up on them. It doesn't mean you will allow or enable them,” Stoletniy says. “It does give you the perspective to see more clearly the options your loved one has.”
"I can’t control it."
Addiction is a biological disease that affects the brain’s chemistry. You might feel the urge to try to take control of your loved one’s actions, but letting go of that urge will enable you to engage more productively and focus your energy on what you can change, Stoletniy says.
You can educate yourself about addiction and take care of yourself as you support your loved one on their path to recovery.“When your loved one is ready to ask for help, you will be there to support them and make the right call,” Stoletniy says.