Updated: Dec 3, 2019
Tough love. One of the most common two words that you're going to hear if you have a loved one in addiction, and yet it's one of the two words that are so widely misunderstood as to what that means and how it plays a part into a person that has an addiction.
You don't need anyone telling you how to parent your kid, but you do need to develop your strategies so that you can figure out the best way of dealing with your son or daughter that's in addiction and tough love is something that you're going to hear so often, and sometimes that can come with shame and guilt.
It can come with making decisions that often is tough to do.
That's really what tough love is. It's not about being tough on them. You don't have to yell at them. You don't have to be tough on them. There's no need to be mean or angry. Sometimes that's what we think tough love is, is about being tough on them, but it's just about making decisions that sometimes is tough to do.
When you have a loved one in addiction, it's all about your actions and not your words. You can talk, you can say things until you're blue in the face. You can yell at them, you can scream, but the only thing that a person that is on drugs or is drinking too much hears is your actions.
When you allow them to help themselves, when you allow them their choices, it's telling them that you believe in them.
What addicts need is to have faith in themselves, and you have to have faith in them as well. I know it's hard because they haven't shown you they can make good decisions. It's hard to believe in them because they haven't given you any reason to. However, it's still necessary to let go and let them live with their choices.
It's one of the things that pulled me out of my addiction, which I had to choose. I had to make a lot of really tough decisions for myself. But when I was able to start living my own life, and I was able to start believing in myself and gaining the confidence, that’s when things shifted. My mom said, “no more, I'm not going to help you.”
And then she started showing that she meant it and had to make decisions that were tough to do because it went against everything she wanted to do as a mother. As a mother, she wanted to take care of me to help me through it. However, we have to treat people like adults because they are adults.
The more confidence that a person using drugs or alcohol has and the more faith they have in themselves, it means they may be more willing to get the help that they need.
Just remember it's not that you have to be tough on them. It means that you're going to have to make decisions that are tough to do. And sometimes that comes with strategies. It comes with knowing how to have those conversations, and it comes with knowing what you should do when you have a loved one in addiction.
It can be counterintuitive to what you want to do, and that's what makes it tough to do.
If you have a loved one that is an addiction, I encourage you to reach out to some resources to help you develop your strategies, because that's what you need in this.
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