Sometimes, in trying to help our loved ones that are struggling with substance use disorder, our help is simply not helpful. We can lapse into automatic behaviors that may contribute to the chaos that ensues when the person we care about is actively using substances that alter their body, mind, and spirit.

When we know better, we DO better. We can begin the process of change by controlling what we can - ourselves. Start today by following these guidelines:

1.  Don’t buy into the disease & all of its threats / Do get educated & informed

2.  Don't confront or get into an altercation with your loved one while he or she is high / Do step back and wait for a sober moment before having a meaningful conversation

3.  Don't make excuses to your spouse, family, friends, or school authorities for your loved one’s substance use / Do be honest

4.  Don't take responsibility for your loved one’s substance use or addiction / Do recognize you didn’t cause it

5.  Don't accept behaviors that are threatening, aggressive, destructive, or chaotic as normal / Do set healthy, safe, protective boundaries within your home

6. Don't nag or scream at your loved one about his or her substance use / Do calmly detach with love

7.  Don't clean up your loved ones’ messes and predicaments / Do allow them to face the natural consequences of their behaviors

8. Don't let yourself be ruled by the addicted person’s behavior; it will negatively affect your behavior as well / Do practice self-care

9. Don't view your loved one as lacking willpower or having a moral deficiency / Do accept that addiction is a brain disease

10.   Don't assume your loved ones are “doing this to you” / Do understand that they are doing this to themselves & you are not a victim

11. Don't harbor anger or resentment toward your loved one / Do acknowledge negativity breeds negativity

12. Don't use any drug, alcohol, or chemical around them – they will see it as hypocrisy & confront you with it / Do examine your behaviors, habits, & practices

13.   Don't play detective. following your loved one around to see what he or she is doing is a waste of your time, physical & emotional energy / Do believe you do not control the behavior of another person

14.   Don't contribute to an addicted person’s disease by giving him or her money / Do set clear, firm rules that prevent you from perpetuating his or her substance use

15.   Don't make any threats or impose any consequences unless you are fully prepared to follow through / Do say what you mean & mean what you say

16.   Don't fall into fear, despair, helplessness / Do have faith, courage, and hope

17.   Don't become paralyzed by your loved one’s substance use / Do get educated, empowered & ask others for assistance