How do I help? The first thing you must understand is that you cannot do this alone. You must have a support system in place, you need someone you can talk with about the process. Most family members are dealing with a high level of anxiety and/or fear. If this anxiety/fear is not processed in a supportive environment we will fall into the trap of enabling behaviors to relieve our uncomfortable feeling and it does nothing for the addict or us. The other thing that happens is we isolate from positive support systems. Once we are clear that we cannot do this alone we have chance of success. Support systems such as Alanon/Alateen and Families Anonymous are available you can find the link on this site.
The next step is to come to an understanding that you actually cannot control the outcome for the addict. As you gradually come to terms with this reality your options to respond to the addiction expand. Learn to give up control of the outcome for the addict and your fear and anxiety reduce. as this happens you will find room in your heart for compassion and love.
The addicted person needs information about their condition. Provide straight information about resources in the community and that they need help. this is not a debate, or a discussion about whether or not they are addicts. Don't be surprised if you are rejected in this effort or even blamed. the important point is that you provide straight, non judgemental feedback and information. Remember, do not argue with them or nag them or threaten them or listen to their excuses.
Allow the addicted person to experience the consequences of their behavior. addicted people only enter treatment because they experience some level of pain that breaks through their denial system. This pain could be legal, financial, emotional or medical. If there are no consequences there are no reasons for an addicted person to seek change. If they have been hearing about treatment programs in the community from you they may decide to go to one if they experience consequences they don't like. Stepping aside and letting them suffer as a result of their addictive behavior is a way of bringing their bottom up. The earlier in this process they experience pain the better.
Giving someone information if they don't want it is not easy, not taking their rejection of that information personally is not easy, allowing a person that we love to suffer as a result of their addiction is not easy. this is why you must have a support system. In my class over the past 11 years family members will say to me, "Bob, that's easier said than done." My response is always "of course it is and it is still what needs to be done." It is usually at this point in the class when family members either realize they have work to do or leave and don't come back. There are no magic bullets in dealing with addiction in your family and yet the process of recovery can be very rewarding one.