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Does Tough Love Work With Addiction?

a couple sits angrily with each other asking does tough love work with addiction

It might be difficult to understand the challenges that someone you care about is facing with addiction and what your part in their life is. It may be tough for you to offer much support or compassion, especially if their addiction has broken the trust you had in them. You could be tempted to express yourself as “tough love,” which may appear like an ultimatum or a lack of compassion. Does tough love work with addiction, or could it have the opposite effect?

Approaching someone you love who is struggling with addiction can be difficult. Northpoint Recovery has addiction treatment programs to help your loved one break their addiction and find hope. When you recognize the signs of addiction in someone you love, finding a way to quickly get them the support they need is essential. Call 888.296.8976 to learn more about our outpatient and family therapy programs which can help your loved one take the first step toward a lifetime of recovery.

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction

It can be difficult to tell if a loved one is suffering from addiction, but there are some common signs you can look out for:

  • Change in appearance or hygiene- If you see that your loved one is no longer caring for their appearance or personal hygiene, it may be an indication that they are suffering from addiction.
  • Swings in mood or behavior – Addiction not only causes irregular mood swings but can be incredibly tough on your loved ones—sometimes even resulting from withdrawal symptoms.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns – Since addiction heavily impacts the brain, changes in sleep patterns can signal your loved one is struggling.
  • Dramatic weight gain or loss – Some drugs may cause extreme weight loss, while others may trigger binge eating habits. Noticing a dramatic change in your loved one’s appearance may be a sign of substance abuse.

If you discover any of these changes in your loved one, it’s critical to have a discussion with them. They may be in denial about their addiction and unwilling to talk about it, but they need to know that you’re there for them.

What Is Tough Love?

When it comes to addiction, the phrase “tough love” is quite popular. It’s often used to depict a scenario in which a parent takes a hard line with their child who is addicted. A father might state that his daughter, who is hooked on drugs, may not return home until she stops using.

The thinking behind tough love is that it will spur the addicted individual to get professional help. Many people might reason that if their loved ones experience the fallout from their addiction, they will be more likely to try rehabilitation.

When Is Tough Love for Addiction Effective?

There is no research to support that tough love in addiction treatment works. In fact, it could make someone feel worse. If an ultimatum is given or they do not feel supported, hopelessness can take over and may lead them back to their addiction as a form of self-medication. This vicious cycle leads to increased negative consequences associated with the addiction.

If you consider using tough love with someone you love struggling with addiction, it may be wise to reconsider. There are other, more effective ways to help them get the treatment they need.

Learn More About Tough Love and Substance Abuse from Northpoint Recovery

If you are struggling with how to help your loved one with addiction, we can help. At Northpoint Recovery, we offer outpatient and family therapy programs that can help your loved one take the first step toward a happier, healthier future. Call us today at 888.296.8976 to learn more about our programs and how we can help you and your loved one.