Going through an addiction is a horrible thing. Of course, addiction is often worst for the person experiencing it, but it can also be a really hard time for those around them.
When someone you care about is suffering from an addiction, it can be difficult to deal with, especially because you may feel helpless. After all, how do you help someone who is struggling with addiction?
If that’s the question you are asking yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to help a struggling loved one with their addiction.
Rehab and therapy
As much as you may want to help them yourself, that’s not always possible. Firstly, you likely don’t have the expertise needed to help them – addiction is tricky to deal with, and people often study it for years in order to truly understand it.
Secondly, it could affect your own mental health if you get too involved, especially if your efforts aren’t succeeding. Convince them to talk to a therapist. If that doesn’t work, you may need to get them admitted to a rehab program. Both of these methods are proven to help people with addictions. Have a look at local IOP programs to see if they can help your loved one.
The more you understand about addiction – and specifically your loved one’s kind of addiction – the more you will be able to help them. People often have misconceptions about addiction. This could lead to them saying things like “just stop being addicted”, which isn’t helpful to the person struggling. If stopping were that easy, they would do it.
Researching addiction will help you notice the warning signs, and also help you understand what may trigger your loved one’s addiction. Both of these things can help you when it comes to helping them.
If you want your loved one to overcome their addiction, you need to be there for them, if you can. This means supporting them. When it comes to addiction, support means many things, but it does not mean enabling their addiction. We’ll talk about that a bit later.
Support can mean not judging them. You don’t know what drove them to addiction, and unless you have been in their shoes, you can’t judge. It also means listening to them, even if you don’t know what advice to give. You can learn more about being a good listener here.
As much as you need to be supportive and loving, you also need to be firm with them at times. You’ve probably heard the phrase “tough love” – it essentially means that, sometimes, if you want the best for someone, you need to be firm with them.
In the case of people struggling with an addiction, this often means helping them admit that there is a problem and that they need love. You shouldn’t yell at them or be too harsh, but you also shouldn’t sugarcoat the situation. Be honest, but gentle. It’s a hard balance to find, but it will likely help them.
Be there after their recovery
Even if your loved one goes through rehab or therapy and manages to kick their addiction, they will always be recovering, and never fully recovered.
This means that you should continue supporting them, even if they appear to be fine – you never know what can trigger them and send them back down the addiction route.
So, how exactly do you do this? A good idea is to encourage them to regularly visit a support group. No matter how hard you try to support them, they will need to talk to people who have been through the same experience that they have.
No one can expect you to entirely change the way you live your life because of someone else, but you can be considerate. This is especially important during the beginning phases of their recovery, where they are likely at their most vulnerable.
For example, if you know that your loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, it would be quite inconsiderate to drink excessively in front of them. In fact, if you truly want to support them, you can go the extra mile and stop drinking for a bit, just until they are further into their recovery.
Don’t enable them
When you love someone, it’s easy to want to give them everything. If your loved one comes to you and you can see that they are struggling, you may be tempted to help them out. They may promise you that this is the last time and that if you love them, you will help them. Unfortunately, you will only be harming them, not helping them, if you enable their addiction. It’s important that you learn to say no, for both you and them.
People often think that addiction can be cured overnight. That isn’t the case. Sadly, it will take your loved one a long time to recover from their addiction, so try not to be too disheartened if they don’t immediately show signs of improvement. Recovering from addiction is a long process. It’s also an ongoing process, which means that even after they have recovered, your loved one will likely still be struggling, and maybe even have days when they fall back into bad habits. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost; as long as they are trying, there is the possibility of them beating their addiction.
Look after yourself
Finally, it may feel like it’s your responsibility to look after your loved one, but that’s not always true. Yes, you should be there and support them whenever you can, but not at the cost of your own mental health. It can be really difficult and draining to see a loved one struggle, and it’s natural that it will affect you in some way. If it starts to affect you too much, you need to take a step back and take care of yourself, without feeling guilty.