How to Say No to a Loved One When It’s Hard

How to Say No to a Loved One When It’s Hard

When your loved ones struggle with addiction, it can be hard not to want to help make their life a little easier. We often do whatever we can to help them, even giving them money or trying to help with bills or groceries if they’re behind. We help them because we love them, but unfortunately, in many cases, the things we do to help can make things worse. By enabling bad behavior, we’re not doing them any favors; but it can be extremely hard to say no, especially to our family.

People who struggle with substance use are often manipulative. Driven by physical cravings or withdrawals, they may say or do almost anything in order to get money or drugs, or to hide their drug use from family or friends. They try to craft a web of lies that conceals that they have a problem, or just how bad it is, even though the family can almost always see through it (especially as the addiction progresses). It’s important to learn how to say no when you recognize that a loved one has a substance use disorder, rather than fueling the problem with an effort to help with money, for example.

It can be hard to say no to a loved one when they come to you for money or anything that could simply make their substance use worse, especially if your loved one is good at covering their tracks. Unless they’re coming to you asking for help getting into treatment, it’s a necessary task, unfortunately. You can’t control your loved one, but you can control your actions, reactions and your boundaries.

Learn to keep those boundaries held tight, and they’ll give you the footing you need to say no and put your foot down. For example, a common way many people stop enabling their loved ones is to lay down the ground rule that to be in your house, the loved one MUST be sober.  

Keep your resolve steady when you say no the first time. Your loved one may react with extreme emotions, often fueled by their substance use. Maintain your boundaries, keep your resolve and remind them that you’re saying no because you love them, and you can’t help them down the road they’re going on in good conscience. Sometimes, you have to say no and let them hit their rock bottom before they’re willing to say no themselves.

Together, the family can heal. Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center brings balance and life back into families affected by a teenager or adolescent loved one’s substance use. For information on our long-term residential treatment programs, call us today: 662-598-4214

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