Tough Love and Addiction


It is difficult to watch someone you love ruin their self by being addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.  It hurts know that they are slowly killing their self right in front of you.  However, when displaying tough love, it really could be a wake up call to make them start recovery or just showing tough love while they are in recovery.  This article by, explains perfectly what tough love is.

Tough Love Defined

Tough love can be defined as love or affection that is expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner. The usual motivation for acting in such away is to promote good behavior. For example, if a parent speaks in angry tones to their child they are likely doing so to encourage this young person to follow the rules. With tough love the individual is treating the other person harshly out of a desire to help that person – they are not acting that way out of malice or knee-jerk anger.

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Enabling an Addict

Enabling an addict occurs when family and friends protect this individual from the consequences of their actions. Such protection can be detrimental for a number of reasons including:

* Most addicts will become willing to escape their addiction once they have hit their personal rock bottom. If loved ones protect the individual from the negative consequences of their actions then this is likely to delay the arrival at the point where they are ready to quit.
* Enabling an addict means that other people suffer the consequences of the addict’s behavior while they remain untouched by these consequences.
* Some individuals become so wrapped up in sorting out the mess of the addict’s life that they become codependent. This means that their own identity becomes lost as they are so focused on the behavior of this other individual – it is like they become addicted to the chaos.
* The addict will often have no scruples about manipulating those individuals who are trying to help them. This can be summed up in the saying that, if you give them an inch they will take a mile.
* By enabling the addiction it is almost like giving consent to the behavior – or at least it will appear that way to the addict. Those who fall into substance abuse get completely caught up in denial and delusion, and anyone who enables them may be just reinforcing this departure from reality.

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Using Tough Love When Dealing with Addicts

Employing tough love with an addict involves:

* No longer allowing the addict to manipulate those who love them.
* It may involve giving the substance abuser an ultimatum – for example, either they get help or they stay away.
* It means making decisions and sticking to them no matter how much the addict pleads or cajoles.
* In some cases it can mean breaking off all contact with the addict.
* Refusing to enable the addict in any way. This means ensuring that they are not spared the consequences of their actions.
* It can often mean cutting the purse strings – this means no longer giving or lending any financial assistance.
* Sometimes an intervention can be used to attempt to coerce the individual into getting help for their addiction. This usually involves family and friends getting together to confront the addict – the power of numbers can make a difference.

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Read more here.

Displaying tough love can really make an addict understand that the ones that love them really would like them to get their lives back in order and to be that person they once knew before drugs or alcohol took over it.  It can be tough to be tough, but if it is just ignored, it will only get worse.  If you would like to speak with someone about recovery, please contact Bridgeway Behavioral Health at 866-758-1152 or

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