Did you know, in the US, over 22 million people suffer from the effects of alcohol abuse? On top of that staggering amount, 8 million people in the US have an addiction to harmful drugs.
There have been stigmas attached to addiction for many years. But research shows that addiction is not a choice. It’s a disease that affects the brain.
Just as you would take care of a relative or friend with a chronic disease, an addicted person will need the same support. They can’t get clean alone.
If your friend or relative is struggling with addiction, how can you help them? When helping someone with an addiction, it can be easy to lose yourself. How can you make sure you’re achieving the right balance?
Read on to find out the answers to these tough questions.
Helping Those Struggling with Addiction
When you’re helping someone with an addiction, you can’t expect it to be a smooth ride. Some problems you may face include:
- Fear of change
- Fear of consequences
There is no set formula on how to support an addict. But this step by step guide can help you to get started.
Step 1: Face the Music
Although you’re trying to help, your loved one may feel you’re trying to control their life. They need your support, but they have to make their own decisions. Even if this means they have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
Of course, if they’re putting themselves or anyone else in danger you may need to step in. For instance, drunk driving.
Dealing with the consequences of their actions may help them to see how far they’ve fallen. This may kick start them into action.
Step 2: Build Trust
Establishing trust is key in helping addicts. It may be hard for you to trust them again, especially if they’ve hurt you in the past. But without this solid foundation, you haven’t got a leg to stand on.
Refrain from criticizing or lecturing them. And make sure you don’t engage in any addictive behaviors yourself. There is nothing less trustworthy than hypocrites.
In time, they will trust you and confide in you. Once you’ve gained their trust you may be able to assist them in getting professional help.
Step 3: Communicate
Openly and honestly communicate with them. But do not threaten or nag them. They’re more likely to change if you’re a compassionate listener.
But there will be times when you need to be strict with them. Don’t foster the addiction, let them know the truth. Be honest about your feelings and how they’ve hurt you.
Step 4: Start Treatment
Treatment processes vary depending on the addiction and diverse circumstances. There may be times when they may invite you to join in the counseling sessions.
During these sessions, you should keep the balance between honesty and tact. You may hear things you don’t want to hear, such as how YOU may have contributed to their addiction. Be willing to change, and they will be willing to change too.
If they are receiving private treatment, respect their privacy. If they don’t want to talk about their therapy, that’s ok. Don’t badger them.
Step 5: Be Patient
Change won’t occur overnight. And there may be relapses. But that doesn’t mean you should give up.
Patience is key.
Self-Care Is Self Respect
When you’re helping someone with an addiction, it can be easy to forget about yourself. Looking after yourself is also key to helping your loved one. How so?
If you stop caring for yourself, you will become emotionally drained and stressed. This may cause you to become easily provoked and irritable. This won’t help the process of helping an addict.
How can you include self-care into your routine?
Know Your Limitations
Remember the only person you can fully control is yourself. You cannot control anything the addicted person says or does.
In a practical sense, you also need to be aware of your limitations. You may live with a constant gnawing feeling of guilt. But that doesn’t mean you have to do everything they ask, learn how to say “no.”
For example, giving money or doing favors such as watching their kids. Don’t feel like you have to walk on eggshells. It’s ok to say “no” when you can’t do what’s asked of you.
Stop the Blame Game
On the other hand, it may be tempting to blame the addict for all your problems. Although this may be true in some aspects, blaming them or yourself isn’t going to help anyone.
For instance, you may have loaned them money which helped to fuel their addiction. If you made mistakes, be humble and accept them. But remember, you can’t change the past, but you can change the future.
Helping an addict may seem like a full-time job. But, as well as caring for your loved one, keep a good balance between work, friendships, fitness, and a good diet.
This will help you to feel your very best and you’ll find it easier to face any issues that come up.
Stand Your Ground
Many addicts can become masters of deception and manipulation when they need something. Especially if they’re still using. The more you allow them to manipulate you, the more they will do it.
Hold your ground. Refuse to give in to any unreasonable demands they come up with. Even if they really try to guilt trip you, don’t give in.
They will eventually realize that they can’t get everything their own way.
Get Help Now
Don’t wait until things get really bad, take action early on. You can help your loved one to get the support they need. It doesn’t have to all lay upon your shoulders.
There may even be situations where you need help too. Having a relationship with an addict can take its toll. So, make sure you get the emotional support you need.
If you’re a parent and your child is an addict, what can you do? Take a look at this advice for all you need to know about how to cope with this difficult situation.
Caring People Make a Difference
Yes, caring and helping an addict is no easy task. But when you make the effort to help your loved one who is struggling with addiction, you can really make a difference.
And don’t forget, no matter how much you help your loved one, make sure to take care of yourself too.
For some of the best tips on how to win the fight against alcoholism, check out this informative article.