5 Tips for Helping a Troubled Family Member

February 21, 2017
A teacher and student having a conversation

When a family member is having problems, it can be hard to know how to help them. You may have the best intentions, but you could feel powerless if you don’t know how to approach the situation. Whether you’re watching someone you love spiral down from a drug addiction, a problem with pornography, or an overwhelming compulsion to shop, there are steps you can take to help them.

Move past addiction problems with an appropriate hobby

People often fall into addictions because they’re trying to fill some kind of void. This goes for everything from pornography to overeating. While you may not be able to force your family member to seek treatment, you can try nudging them away from the damaging addiction by getting them involved in another hobby. For instance, if your husband used to love woodworking, try to engage him in this hobby by taking him to shows and talking to him about setting up a more functional workshop that he can actually use.

Boost recovery efforts with additional support

A person who's struggling may feel completely alone and isolated, even if they have family nearby. You may want to make a concerted effort to actively engage with them in conversation. If they're struggling, encourage them to put the mistakes in the past and keep moving forward. If they ask you to attend a meeting with them or take another supportive role, consider the request and try to assist them if you can.

Be mindful of potential triggers

Sometimes, it’s easy to recognize that a family member is struggling with depression, finances, or an addiction. They may complain frequently, and you see them struggling. You can try reaching out to them by letting them know that you understand and just want to help them. When doing things together, avoid potential triggers. Avoid places with bar drinks if you believe there's an alcohol addiction, and don't suggest an afternoon at the mall if someone is struggling with finances.

Recognize warning signs of bigger problems

One problem can lead to some self-destructive cycles and cascade into bigger issues. If someone you love seems to be behaving in a strange manner, then consider the warning signs that you're seeing. You may be able to pinpoint what a potential problem is and start taking steps to help your family member. For example, warning signs of depression include angry outbursts, oversleeping or not sleeping enough, and a lack of interest in hobbies they used to enjoy. If your loved one simply doesn’t seem like themselves, a growing addiction might be to blame.

Encourage professional treatment

Encourage your loved one to seek treatment on a professional level. Talk to them about the symptoms you’re seeing, and reassure them that you just want them to be happy and take pleasure in life again. Throughout this process, you’ll want to watch for signs that the problem or addiction is growing worse. Keep an eye on the situation, and be prepared to bring up the subject again if necessary. Nowadays, there are forms of therapy for just about any ailment, from pornography addiction treatment to Alcoholics Anonymous. Help your loved one understand that many people struggle with vices and that finding help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Watching a loved one struggle can be painful, but you don’t have to feel powerless. You can take steps to support your friend or family member and help them succeed. Try to get them involved in healthy activities again. Help steer them away from temptation whenever possible. Always reaffirm your love and support for the individual, particularly when you’re talking to them about therapy or other outside treatment options. Ultimately, you may be able to help the individual find the treatment they need and stay on the path toward health and healing.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, AZ, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. Dixie recommends looking into pornography addiction treatment if you have a loved one with this addiction.

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