When do I help and when do I leave him to feel natural consequences?



What is care and showing love and when should I stop shielding him from his bad habits?

How do you get the right balance of helping enough but not interfering with your loved one’s life?
Solutions: what has worked for you? What tips or tricks would you pass on to your former self?

Encourage, no advice or opinions, don’t bring up drugs or the past,support and listening are all loving and caring. There’s no guarantees but there is proof from others that allowing the addict deal with the natural consequences that the addict becomes aware of his addiction


There’s definitely a positive to letting our loved one’s feel natural consequences, in some ways they need this to motivate them to make a change. If you continue to reward them for their positive behavioral changes, while letting them feel the impact of natural consequences, it can encourage them to find ways to make healthier choices. It’s natural to want to shield our loved ones from consequences related to their use: sleeping in and being late for work, missing a lunch date with friends, being too hungover to go to a sports game they paid for. But if they experience the negative outcome of these consequences: having a performance meeting with their boss regarding tardiness, friends not making future plans, losing money on tickets for events, they will have more of a reason to want to change the behavior that got them there in the first place, as they see how their using impacts the world beyond themselves. If we shield our loved ones from that, they’ll never be aware of the potential negative outcomes, and may actually come to resent us for waking them up or nagging too much. It can be hard to let them learn from their mistakes.

One example from my experience with my loved one revolved around him using and oversleeping which made him miss important appointments that were meaningful to him. I used to do everything in my power to wake him up (including pouring ice water on him, no joke!). He would yell at me, curse, tell me to get out, and I would in turn get frustrated and angry which led me to yell back at him - RESULT: huge fight first thing in the morning. Not fun for either of us. Once I stopped trying to wake him up for his appointments he initially got mad at me for “messing up” his day. But then once he started to feel the negatives of missing the appointments, and feeling down on himself for his consequences, he opened up a bit and communicated with me in a more healthy way about how it made him feel to sleep through things, and together we brainstormed ways he could avoid this. It took time and patience on both ends, but eventually he was able to see the consequences of his use in a different way that helped encourage him to want to make positive changes in his life.

Of course, there are consequences we are responsible for stepping in and stopping such as: driving under the influence or engaging in illegal risky behavior. When thinking about stepping in or not take a moment to think about what the outcome will be, and if needed reach out to people you trust if you have trouble deciding if you should intervene or not.

How have others experienced this? Have you let your loved one experience natural consequences, or shielded them? What consequences have you let them experience and when have you stepped in? We’ve all been there, and the more examples we share the more we can help each other out!


You can love them, but they all need natural consequences. Ask them what they want from you, then do that. You can’t make them change, something that has taken me a long time to understand because we love them so much. Treat them with respect even if they aren’t being respectable. It’s hard, I know.


As a parent, I think I have to let my son experience the consequences of his choices, but try to steer him away from those consequences that are devastating to his life. He can’t finish growing up if my husband and I rescue him from his mistakes. It’s also a matter of pride for him to deal with his problems and be treated like an adult.

The way we choose to help is by paying for his medical care and a few other expenses but leaving rent and daily expenses for him to budget and pay. It seems to be working but it requires patience to see long term change.