1. They accept unacceptable behavior You can show support for the person without showing support for the addiction. You can be understanding without accepting unacceptable behavior.

You need to set boundaries between what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior—what behavior will be tolerated by you and what will not be tolerated. Then you need to stand firm.

You need your loved one to understand that you are there for support but that you are not a doormat, either. You want to help him and be there for him, but he must treat you with respect—and you will do the same for him.

2. Being sympathetic instead of empathetic When you are sympathetic of your loved one, you are also being sympathetic to their addiction. You are making it easier for them to maintain their drug addiction. Being sympathetic would pull you too far into the addiction. Being empathetic, however, means showing your understanding, unconditional love, and support in their struggle toward recovery without being pulled into the addictive process yourself.

The critical tool in your support is empathy, which is an awareness and understanding of your loved one’s thoughts and feelings.

Addicts can be very manipulative, and when they are in active addiction, they will do anything to get their drugs. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into this. You can be empathetic (understanding, supportive) without allowing yourself to be used.

Just remember that you are walking a fine line here. Sympathy is not something you can afford. If you feel sorry for your loved one, you won’t be doing him (or yourself) any favors, and you may inadvertently 'feed' his addiction while draining your own emotions (and, possibly, pocketbook).

3. They take things personally Always remember not to take things personally. When your loved one says painful things, remember that it is the addiction talking, and not your loved one. Let it bounce off you, as much as you are able.

Your loved one may really want your help, but the addict in him does not. He is facing a painful internal struggle and may very well lash out at you because of it.

Learn to deal with your negative feelings right away. Don’t hold on to them or they will just fester inside you, making you stressed, making you sick, and doing nothing to make the situation any better for either of you.

Remember what your loved one was like before he became an addict. Keep the hope alive that someday he will be that person again.

4. They enable their loved one’s addiction

Be careful not to enable your loved one’s addiction.

Enabling can take the form of bailing your loved one out of jail, offering housing, giving him clothes, or ensuring proper nutrition. Helping your loved one in this way keeps him from hitting the bottom he needs to hit before he will get help for his addiction.

Because you care, you may sometimes be tempted to support your loved one in ways that actually enable addiction. This can take the form of financial support (paying bills and/or rent, etc.) or practical support (offering her a place to stay, clothes, food, etc.).

Well-meaning rescue efforts can be enabling because, in some cases, your support permits your loved one to continue in her active addiction and actually prolongs it.

5. They become co-dependent A codependent relationship usually occurs when the caretaker in the relationship ends up constantly sacrificing his needs to take care of the other person. Because he gets pleasure from taking on the role of the 'good person,' he never expects accountability from the other person. The relationship just becomes an endless cycle of problems that doesn’t help either person.

We rescue them whenever we take care of other people to the extreme—whenever we do things for them that they could/should be doing for themselves.

Staying in a relationship with someone who is not taking responsibility for his addiction is only going to be emotionally draining and destructive for you, and it will never force your loved one to get serious about recovery. In those cases, the best thing you can do for both of you is to get out.

Never, at any point in your loved one’s life, allow yourself to become codependent. You are a supporter, not an enabler. You can’t allow your loved one to get away with things like manipulation, saying he can’t do things when he can, and not taking responsibility for his own life.

6. They are part of the problem, instead of part of the solution By keeping your focus on the solution, you keep your emotions in check and keep yourself from being pulled into the problem. You see an opportunity to act, and you act upon it. Then it becomes your loved one’s choice whether he accepts your help or not. Either way, you have offered it, and you can feel good about that.

If you are focused on the addict, then you are focused on the problem. By taking your eyes off the addict (and his problems), you are focusing on the solution. You will no longer be trapped in the problem. And you will no longer be in the role of the enabler. There will be space between you and your loved one, and you will be a more effective supporter as you are able to detach with love.

7. They don’t take care of themselves You actually have a responsibility to spend some time focusing on your own well-being so that you have the ability to support your loved one and the rest of your family members impacted by addiction.

When your own strength and mental health are intact, you will be far more able to participate fully in the treatment of your loved one.

Taking care of yourself is probably the most important and essential advice you need. In order for you to properly support your loved one for the rest of his life, you have to be healthy, happy, and financially secure.

8. They fail to protect their finances, their valuables, and their prescriptions The most common cause of eventual financial crisis is misuse of credit cards. Credit cards may be the single greatest source of financial problems around for people with an addiction and their families.

Planning to protect your finances is essential when addiction fallout has the potential to impact your life at any time. The simple truth is that you have to shield yourself against potential self-inflicted problems as much as possible—not because you can’t trust your loved one, but because you can’t trust the addiction!

You may be able to trust the person, but you can never trust the addiction. That’s why you need to protect your valuables.

You must also protect your prescription medication. Keep it locked up. Keep it hidden, at the very least. Keep it on yourself if you need to. This is for your own protection. What would you do if you didn’t have your medication?

9. They let their guard down Say your loved one has been in recovery for some length of time and you are feeling confident that he won’t relapse. This is a very dangerous place to be, as you may become complacent. You must always stay unrelenting and consistent, no matter how long it has been! Especially because addictions can switch.

As a supporter of someone with an addiction, it is imperative that you never let your guard down during your loved one’s lifetime. People with addiction can easily slip into their old habits, and this can lead to relapse.

10. They fail to realize that recovery takes time Your loved one didn’t get this way overnight; they aren’t going to get better (change) overnight.

Every change takes time to become a permanent change. And in the process of change, you may have to try several different things in order for the change to take place and to become a permanent change.

Lifestyle changes must be made in the beginning and, as your loved one progresses, again as they go along their journey toward recovery from addiction. This also takes time. It takes time to build good strategies for relapse prevention, and time to live those out.

It takes time to become a recovering addict instead of an active addict.