How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction: 10 Ways To Support Them
June 02, 2020Addiction
When someone that you love is struggling with addiction, it can also feel like a struggle to find ways to help. The truth of the matter is that recovery from drug addiction is usually a long and complicated journey. With the support of a loved one, it can become that much easier to begin the journey and see it through to the end.
If you dont have much experience with drug or alcohol addiction, the whole situation can quickly feel overwhelming. Instead of ignoring the situation or backing away because of the overwhelm, take the time to encourage them to identify their problem and seek a solution.
Are you trying to navigate the complexities of addiction by being a support system for a loved one? There are certain things you can do to provide the most help. Some things should be avoided for the best chance of recovery.
Below, were sharing how to help a loved one with a substance use addiction and a few things to avoid while supporting someone through it.
The Journey Of Recovery
Nobody stays recovered unless the life they have created is more rewarding and satisfying than the one they left behind. ~Anne Fletcher
No matter where your loved one starts on the path to sobriety, remember that a life in recovery can feel more fulfilling than life pre-addiction. By building a relationship with better habits and coping mechanisms, you may find that your relationship is strengthened despite the difficulty of addiction.
The journey of recovery can be long and very difficult at times. Its normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious about change, and angry with your loved ones.
Grieving the loss of relationships and normalcy is also a natural part of the recovery process.
But despite the pain and trauma that can ensue from a lifestyle of addiction, #wedorecover.
Dont: Enable Your Loved One
There can be a fine line between helping someone with an addiction and enabling them. Sometimes when we think were protecting a loved one from the consequences of their addiction, we are actually enabling them to continue with potentially destructive behavior.
For example, if youre trying to figure out how to help an alcoholic, keeping them from drinking and driving is helpful, since that could put them and others in danger. However, consistently offering to drive them home whenever they get too intoxicated is enabling their actions, because its setting up a formula in which you are constantly available to rescue them.
Studies show that people with addictions are more likely to proactively seek treatment when they are forced to face the consequences of their actions. So, if you want to know how to help someone with an addiction, allow them to make mistakes without the promise of your rescue.
Its important to set up boundaries and rules, both for your well-being and the well-being of your loved one and its important to enforce those rules and boundaries. This is the only part of Recovery in which tough love is beneficial, since its done for both you and your loved ones protection.
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How Can You Tell If Someone Needs Help
If a close friend or family member is beginning to show signs of either depression or drug addiction, it isnt always so obvious. Everyone can express these signs in different ways. Not all depressed or drug-addicted people behave the same way. However, there are a few different signs that might come to light in regards to your friends well-being.
These are a few of the more common signs of addiction and depression:
- A person might begin to withdraw from friends and family.
- They might become easily irritated and angered, snapping out of nowhere.
- They might not speak to you for days, weeks, or even months, seemingly disappearing.
- Not showing up for events or gatherings without being under the influence.
- Missing work, school, or other important events.
- Having erratic sleep schedules and more frequent health issues.
- Asking for money or showing other signs that they are struggling financially.
Speak With Compassion And Listen Without Judgment
When youre trying to help someone with drug addiction or alcoholism, what you say matters a lot. Even more important, however, is the tone that you use. Speaking with compassion means communicating from a place of love and best intentions for the person. It requires doing your best to understand how your loved one feels. It means listening with empathy and not judging them in any way. Ensure that they feel heard and validate their struggle. Make sure they understand that you want them to get better because you love them and want whats best for them.
Shame. Fear. Isolation. Regret. Helplessness. Pain. Hopelessness.
These sorts of feelings fuel drug and alcohol addiction. The antidote to these emotions is compassion, which involves helping your family member feel supported, connected, and loved. Furthermore, by expressing compassionate kindness, you will help your loved one develop self-compassion. And self-compassion is a powerful tool for working towards addiction recovery.
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Ways To Support Your Special Someone With Drug Addiction
For an addict, deciding to get help and kick the addiction is no easy feat. Luckily, studies have shown that with the additional love and support of someone close to the addict, their chances of recovery are much higher.
While each situation of addiction has its own unique sets of circumstances and factors at play, there are some general guidelines as to the best way to help someone and offer support.
Group Intervention May Be The Way To Go
If an addicted person is reluctant to seek help, sometimes they can be persuaded through an intervention. This is when family members, friends, and associates come together out of concern and love to confront their friend and encourage them to get help. Consultation with an addiction professional can help you organize an effective intervention for your friend, allowing you to convey the message that the only choice is to accept help and begin the road to recovery.5
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Taking Care Of Yourself
Your loved ones recovery from drug addiction can be a long process and the negative impact on your own health, outlook, and well-being can multiply over time. Its important you maintain a balance in your life to avoid burnout from all the stress and frustration that comes from helping someone get clean.
Find support. Expressing what youre going through can be very cathartic, so look for support from trusted friends and family, or a peer support group for family members of drug addicts. Talking to others who are facing similar challenges can help you find comfort, reassurance, and new ways of coping.
Manage stress. The stress of witnessing someone you love battle addiction can take a heavy toll. You can reduce your stress levels by eating right, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and practicing a relaxation technique such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. Since stress levels can escalate when quitting drugs, you can even encourage your loved one to do the same.
Practice acceptance. At some point, youve probably asked yourself Why me? or even blamed yourself for your loved ones struggle with addiction. But dwelling on circumstances outside your control will only sap your energy and damage your mood. Instead of searching for someone to blame or asking questions with no easy answers, learning to accept the things you cant change can help you focus on the things that you do have control over.
Do Not Enable Your Loved One
Addiction recovery is a tricky process and it can sometimes be hard to distinguish between helping a loved one versus enabling them. At times, it can seem like we are assisting or protecting a loved one struggling with substance issues, but we are truly enabling their behavior. There may even be times when you are supporting their addiction without realizing it.
For example, your loved one may be constantly asking for financial support. You may help them by paying for their groceries or bills however, this only prolongs the disease- allowing them to fund their addiction. Although you are assisting them, you are doing it in a way where they can avoid the consequences of their actions.
While it may be difficult to not intervene at times, your loved one must comprehend the effects of their dependency. People will often fail to change their behavior unless they are forced to confront the outcomes of their actions. If you truly want your loved one to recover, it is important to allow them to make mistakes so they can learn about the severity of their issue.
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How To Help Someone Dealing With Addiction
Knowing someone who has an addiction is not uncommon, but knowing the best way to help a loved one with an addiction can be confusing and even scary. When someone has an addiction, it can affect every aspect of their lives as well as the lives of their loved ones. You will inevitably be concerned about your loved one, and it can be difficult to know what to do and what not to do, but its important to remember that Recovery is a solution.
Remember That Addiction Is A Disease
Drugs and alcohol can rewire the brain, disrupting function and leading to dependency. It results in a distorted value system that shifts toward supporting ongoing substance use.
Its natural to get frustrated with your loved one when you see them doing something thats harmful to their health. For your own well-being, you may occasionally need to limit your contact if that person is actively using substances or alcohol.
But be wary of making them feel like an outcast. This can lead to feelings of shame and make them less comfortable reaching out for support. After they enter recovery, when it feels appropriate, you can slowly open up more communication with them. Try to understand how substance misuse became a routine part of their life and ask how you can best support them.
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Do: Take Care Of Yourself
Indulging in self-care is not selfish, especially when youre helping someone dealing with addiction. You cannot let the addiction of your loved one derail your own life. Continue with healthy activities, like hobbies and social outings, and take care to look after yourself. Therapy or counseling is part of that process, but indulging in activities that arent centered around your loved one is necessary. Determine what it is that you need to keep yourself well and indulge in it.
Are You Also Struggling With Addiction
If you are also struggling with addiction, you probably are not yet in a position to help someone else recovering from addiction. The best thing you can do is seek help for your own issues. Once you have worked through those issues within yourself, you will be in a position to help others.
What should you do when rehab does not work for someone you care about?
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Dont Focus On Guilt Or Shame
Someone struggling with addiction is usually already feeling deep guilt, shame and anger about their using. In addition, many feel judged by their family and friends, and will act defensively in response to any criticism that is levelled at them. Rather than helping, if the judgement or moralising does appear, they may turn to using to combat the feelings of stress that this gives them.
It is understandable however, as the person suffering may have already deeply hurt you, broken your trust or angered you. Where there is love left though, it is important to understand that feelings of shame, anger, and judgement can negatively affect your relationship with the person addicted and actively harm their chances of recovery. Research shows that shame is one of the least effective incentives to change, because it is isolating, painful and can make the addicted person believe they are unworthy of love or treatment.
Why Your Loved One May Be Reluctant To Get Professional Help
In most cases, getting someone with an alcohol addiction or drug abuse problem professional help is easier said than done. Many times people who have an addiction, whether it be to alcohol or another substance use problem, are living in denial. They cant admit to themselves, let alone a loved one or family member, that they have a problem and need help.
They may be afraid to stop drinking or using drugs and get into a professional treatment program. When an individual has become addicted to a substance, it can be very scary to consider facing life without it. Sometimes people with mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression use alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate. The thought of facing life, fears, and past traumas without it is too much to bear. SAMHSA also reports that about 7.7 million American adults have a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.
In addition to this reason, many people fear being misjudged if they seek treatment for alcohol addiction or drug abuse problems. Despite the forward progress made in understanding and treating addiction, there continues to be a stigma. Many people think that those with addiction issues are weak or have low morals. Additionally, people who seek treatment for an issue with alcohol or drugs may be concerned about how they are perceived by those at work or school. If they also have a co-occurring mental health disorder, they may fear the stigmas associated with that as well.
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Established in 1988 by Peter and Dr Margaret McCann, Castle Craig is a residential rehab, complete with medically managed detox centre, that treats people suffering from alcohol and drug addictions, many of whom have other complex illnesses and mental health issues.
Castle Craig Hospital is located in the stunning countryside of the Scottish Borders, just 40 minutes drive from Edinburgh, one hour from Glasgow and two hours from Newcastle. Our 50 acres of parkland and woods is a relaxed and tranquil environment conducive to healing and recovery.
You Cant Fix The Problem Directly
Unless you are a licensed mental health professional, you should never try to fix your friend or loved ones substance use problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , addictions are complex and chronic diseases that require medical intervention to overcome. You wouldnt try to cure a persons cancer or diabetes, and you shouldnt hope to cure their addiction either. The safety of your friend is not the only reason this is important, however, the potential guilt that can overcome you if you fail in getting them better can be hard to cope with. No matter what happens, you are never responsible for the outcome and with a disease like addiction that impacts so many parts of our lives, that is important to understand.
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Ways To Help Someone With Drug Addiction
Substance use disorders exist on a continuum, with the least severe being a substance misuse problem and the most severe most commonly known as a substance use disorder. Substance use impacts more than 23 million people in the United States directly, and if you include the indirect impact that number can skyrocket to over 60 million. What this means is that you more than likely know someone who is currently struggling with an addiction, and at some point will need help to get the medical care that they needknowing what you can do then is an important part of the process.
What To Expect In Rehab
If your loved one has decided to enter a treatment program for their addiction, they can expect to first check-in and complete an intake interview. This will allow the program to create a plan tailored to their needs.
The next step involves detoxing to remove any substances from their body. This process can take anywhere from three to 14 days and can be aided by medications to ease withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, the next step involves therapy to help them adjust and develop new thought and behavior patterns that will support their long-term recovery.
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Dos And Donts When Your Loved One Is Struggling With Addiction
Finding out that your loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol can be heartbreaking. It can leave you feeling angry, hurt, and confused. While it is normal to feel overwhelmed right now, it is important to realize that all hope is not lost. Recovery is possible, and you can help your loved one get there.
Youre most likely wondering what you can do to help? What to say? Where to start? And while there is no set guideline as to how to handle a loved ones addiction, there are certain dos and donts that you should know.
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