When a person you care about is struggling with drug addiction, it is painful and heartbreaking. Often, you feel helpless and not knowing where to turn for help—or if support is even available. You may have already tried to get your loved one treatment, but your efforts failed to help them get clean and sober. No matter the severity of one’s addiction, both the addict and the family have a long and painful journey ahead.
Despite what you may think, there are ways that you can help someone get the professional help they need to overcome their addiction. The following article contains practical tips on how to help someone with drug addiction.
The first and most important thing you can do to help someone with drug addiction is to learn about addiction and exactly what to expect. You need to do your due diligence in researching what options exist for treating addiction and the best way to approach the situation. Learn about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and how it impacts someone struggling with addiction. Because addiction is a complex condition, give yourself time, and learn as much as you can.
In addition to government-sponsored and authoritative websites, it is also beneficial to talk to professionals in your area. Speak to medical and addiction professionals, and don’t be afraid to ask many questions. The information you receive from these resources will give you a game plan to help your loved one’s battle addiction.
See the Signs
Another significant way to help someone with drug addiction is to recognize the signs of substance abuse. While these symptoms can vary depending on the drug being abused, the general signs of addiction can include the following:
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Wide and unpredictable mood swings
- Withdrawing from family members and enjoyable hobbies and other activities
- Problems at work or school
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Lessening focus on personal hygiene
- Changing sleeping pattern
- Financial issues
While these symptoms can derive from personal, social, or psychological problems not tied to drug addiction, it is essential to remain conscious of these symptoms if they persist.
When you are helping someone with their drug addiction, do not wait until they hit “rock bottom” to offer your help and support. Tell your loved one that you are concerned and offer your help and support. Be empathetic but consistent in your offer. While your loved one may disregard the idea t first, it helps to plant the seed for when they are genuinely ready to get clean and sober.
Not only do you need to offer your help and support, encourage your loved one to seek professional advice. When you provide suggestions and encouragement, please keep in mind that you will often face significant resistance. Addicts operate under massive denial, and as a result, they are the last to see and feel the damage their addiction has caused themselves and their loved ones. In the most severe cases, you may have to consult an experienced addiction professional to perform an intervention.
Get Support For Yourself and Your Family
Addiction is a family disease. Not only does addiction create dysfunction and havoc on the addict, but it also creates turmoil amongst friends and family members. When a loved one struggles with addiction, you want to do everything in your power to help. You want the help you provide to be of benefit—but your help may be doing more harm than good. If you or family members are enabling an addicted loved one, it can create bitterness, resentment, and anger.
It is absolutely crucial that you seek the proper support and resources that can help you better understand and cope with a loved one’s addiction. Joining a support group is an excellent way to surround yourself with others who are experiencing similar situations to your own. Groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon were specifically created for the loved ones of addicts to get support and guidance. Within these groups, you not only hear the stories of parents and loved ones dealing with an addiction in their family, but they can also provide the tools and support you need to help your loved one.
When your loved one decides to go to treatment, the real work begins for a recovering addict as well as yourself. You will soon learn that recovery is an ongoing process. As a result, you must be proactive and involved throughout the treatment process. Support your loved one’s participation in care and be active in support meetings. Additionally, go through family counseling and therapy to help you understand your role in your loved one’s recovery process.
Most reputable drug treatment facilities offer family therapy and counseling programs. Experienced counselors will work with you and your loved one, and you can uncover the root causes of a loved one’s addiction. Most importantly, you will better understand what role you and your family members played in one’s substance abuse. Ultimately, the family unit as a whole work together to heal, grow, and recover. Family therapy and counseling help create a healthy foundation where your loved one can grow and flourish in their sobriety.
Take Care of Yourself
Dealing with a loved one’s drug addiction is physically, psychologically, and spiritually taxing. With this in mind, you must be able to meet your own needs and have “me time.” Be sure to eat well, get adequate exercise, and get plenty of sleep. If you need to seek counseling for yourself to sort out the rollercoaster of emotions you experience.
Likewise, it is essential that your family members also do what is needed to take care of themselves. Having healthy family activities such as bike riding, hiking, or designated family nights are a great way to repair and restore family bonds.
When a loved one faces drug addiction, it is easy to feel powerless. By following the tips outlined above, your loved one will be given the best chance of overcoming their substance abuse issues in the long term. Most importantly, you will feel empowered to help make the situation better.