Whether they shoot heroin, compulsively tan or sleep with a hair dryer on the bed, loving someone with an addiction is a 24-hour challenge. So we asked My Strange Addiction's specialist (and Freaky Eaters counselor) Dr. Mike Dow for tips on being part of the solution instead of the problem.
1. Support without enabling.
"If you need help, see an addiction specialist or go to an Al-anon meeting."
2. Move from "you" to "I" language.
"When someone we love is doing something harmful, we have a tendency to say, 'You really need to stop this now!' Chances are they know they need to stop, but don't know how. Tell them how you feel."
3. The best way to help others is to refrain from judgment and criticism.
"Most addicts already have low self-worth, so pointing out their flaws just makes that worse."
4. Remember that consequences may be the only thing that help the addict hit rock bottom and then stop.
"Here's where some tough love comes in — if that tough love forces the person to feel those consequences."
5. Know that worrying itself doesn't improve things.
"In fact, it can just make things worse. Stewing, ruminating and dwelling in the worst-case scenarios just increase our anxiety, so start focusing on the things that are within your power to change."
My Strange Addiction airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on TLC.