Deep down inside you know it’s true, yet you still find yourself desperately begging God — anything — for it not to be. You’ve heard other people talking about it. You’ve even glanced at the books and articles dealing with it. But now you’re faced with it personally, and you have no idea what to do next. How did things get so out of control? Finally you’re forced to admit your loved one has an addiction.

So what do you do? How do you help someone who has become dependent on something or someone as a means to fill the massive void they feel in their life? Is it even your cross to bear? These three loving and empowering concepts can help you support your family, friends or self in the midst of the battles and pain of addiction.

1. Be vulnerable and compassionate

Even though you may not know exactly what your friend is going through in that moment, there’s a good chance that you do know just how deep her pain can cut. Open the door for her to express to you what she’s going through and then let her know you’re right there with her. Temporarily slip into her shoes and walk in her perspective. By doing this, you’re validating that her feelings and reality are real — whether they make sense to you at the time or not. This will help keep the lines of communication flowing, offering you the opportunity to consistently speak your truth in love and with respect and also give her a chance to uncover on her own the true issues that are being masked by addiction.

2. Accept and acknowledge the person

Each one of us is desperate to know that we matter — not for what we do, but for who we are. Even when you know addiction is the only lens through which that person can see, love him for his own essence and allow him the space to be where he is without judgment, solutions or pity. Feel your way back to a time when you were struggling with something and were longing for someone to just be there for you. You didn’t want them to fix you in that moment, but you just needed to breathe and be loved unconditionally. By offering this gift of what seems like practically nothing, you’re giving that person the greatest, most powerful tool of healing ever known — the gift of acceptance.

3.  Respect the Journey

So many times you care so deeply for your friends that you often take on their pain as your own. As you walk the journey with your loved one, there more than likely will come a time when the path becomes too narrow for both of you to travel together. Once that place has been reached and professional help is ready to be introduced and accepted, you can continue walking your own path knowing that you loved unconditionally and can still do so even though you’re not right next to the person in this moment. Take comfort in knowing it was your investment into their life, their healing and their purpose which allowed them to begin and continue healing…and living. The time will come again when the two of you will be reconnected, and the relationship will be even stronger and more healthy than it ever had been.