If you love someone with an addiction, here are some ideas for what you can do for the addict in your life.
Addiction, especially addiction to harmful substances like alcohol or narcotics, is often treated as a taboo subject amongst families and social circles.
However, more often than protecting the people involved, it only seeks to stop up from finding ways to help them. The notion of helping an addict is a difficult one, as not all addicts are ready to admit their problems or to find treatment, and pushing the boundaries too far can rebound and have disastrous effects.
However, there may be ways that you can help.
As you might know, I am a bestselling wellness author. I founded a groundbreaking video course called The Anxiety Cure.
I love sharing insights and strategies to help people to live their healthiest, best life.
With this in mind I put together this quick guide with some tips for how to support the addict in your life.
Below are a few ways you can help the addict in your life.
The first thing you should do is throw out any assumptions of how you think addiction works. It’s not like the movies or TV shows, it can arise for a wide variety of reasons. Not all addicts are people who started off with mental health issues such as depression or because they are dealing with trauma. Similarly, not all addicts are low-functioning, either. Many are able to hide it relatively well. Addiction can take many forms, but regardless of the form that it is taking, it is bad for the individual as it hampers their ability to live without the source of that addiction. Make sure you get to know specifically how it affects your loved one.
If you are close to your loved one with an addiction, then the first thing that you need to take responsibility for is that you may, either willfully or inadvertently, be playing the role of enabling their addiction. Enabling tends to stem out of a desire to help them on their road to recovery, but you can find yourself making excuses for them, taking care of their responsibilities so that they don’t fall behind, and even protecting them from the consequences of their own actions. It might sound harsh, but you have to prevent yourself from doing that. This is not truly “helping” them, even if the results of not doing so might seem dire. You’re allowing them to participate in their addiction and taking on the consequences yourself.
This is not really something that you can force someone to do but it is an important step on the road to recovery that you might be able to help them with. First of all, you have to make sure that your loved one is willing to admit they have a problem, to begin with. Something, people find that staging an intervention can be helpful, but this is very dependent on individual circumstances and behavior. Similarly, even if they admit they have a problem until they are willing to get treatment, you may find yourself at a standstill with them.
When someone has admitted that they are an addict and they are starting to think more about what comes next for them, this is when you can more effectively start talking to them about addiction. You can talk to them, first of all, about some of the consequences of addiction, how it is affecting not just their personal and professional life now, but also what kind of future it might be setting them up for. This may also be where you can start talking about the idea of treatment, and the assistance that you might be able to provide for them in finding the treatments that suit their needs the best.
One of the problems with an intervention is that people will often a combative or antagonistic role in an attempt to “wake up” the person dealing with the addiction. The truth is that emotions can be messy when dealing with an addict and, often enough, some idea of retribution or shaming comes into play because people lose control. If you or someone you know cannot avoid shaming or being critical (rather than realistic), then that person needs to take a step away from the situation. Be real about the risks and ongoing consequences of addiction, but don’t let anyone follow the urge dog pile.
When they admit that they are ready to get help for their addiction, then it may become time to get more hands-on and to look at the options at your disposal to help them get back on their feet. There are all kinds of groups and therapy options available, but inpatient treatment centers like Summit’s drug rehab are often considered some of the most effective. Aside from clinical treatments to wean individuals off their addicting substance, placing them in an environment that is dedicated to therapy, care, and avoiding addiction can help them recover much more effectively in the long term.
It’s important to be aware of the fact that a battle with addiction does not end when someone comes out of rehab and is clean. It’s a fight that will likely last them the rest of their life and, while the responsibility for relapse will always fall back on them, there is help that you can provide. You can assist them and support them when it comes to finding a stable place to live, such as a halfway house, managing health problems with them, helping them find purpose and community, such as helping them find a job or a hobby that keeps them connected to other people. You should recognize the warning signs of relapse as well so you can be ready to talk to them and hold them to account.
When undergoing treatment for addiction, a lot of people are going to get a better understanding of the psychological triggers that tend to get them reaching for their addictive substance. While, in the long term, acclimation to these triggers and “overcoming” them is a viable strategy for many, there are times when simply avoiding those triggers can be a lot more helpful. If your loved one talks to you about triggers that they might want to avoid, helping them do that can help. This can include not socializing with them and certain individuals at the same time, helping them avoid certain environments, or even simply providing care and company and helping them address mental health needs in the long term.
With all of the tips above, there are ways that you can support and help a loved one with addiction on their way to recovery. However, addiction can be a dangerous thing and it can affect much more than just the individual suffering from it, as you may well know. If you are in personal danger or you are beginning to experience serious mental health issues as a result of helping or living with someone who is dealing with addiction, then you need to consider leaving or letting go for your own safety. However, if you need to make sure that you are doing the right thing, take the time to consider the harm that is being done to you by your loved one or the situation, and whether this is affecting people in your life, as well. No-one can tell you whether you should ever leave or take a break from a person dealing with an addiction, but it may be important to tell you that you have that option.
The most important thing to remember is that it is not your responsibility to help someone “get better.” You may be in a position to provide some help but, equally, it might not be your place or time. You have to prioritize your own safety and wellbeing, too.
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