In the United Nations’ World Drug Report 2021, over 36 million people worldwide have experienced drug use disorders. This only shows the massive scale and severity of substance addiction as a global health issue.
Apart from the fact that it leads to adverse health effects, substance addiction can also affect a person’s relationships. Broken families and a general social detachment are among the serious consequences of substance addiction, especially if it involves alcohol and illegal drugs.
Fortunately, there are ways for friends and family members to intervene and help the affected person overcome their problem with substance addiction. If you know anyone close to you who needs a way out of their condition, here’s what you can do to support them on the road to recovery:
1. Check for the signs
Oftentimes, we don’t know if our friends or loved ones are suffering from a form of substance abuse disorder. That’s because they either keep the problem to themselves or are unaware that the problem exists in the first place. Being someone close to them, you should be able to spot subtle and significant changes in their behavior.
For this, pay attention to how they communicate. You should also track their mood and notice how they gain or lose weight. If you notice that they are shaking, sniffing, and losing sleep, reach out as soon as possible.
2. Talk to them privately
If you have decided to reach out to the person, look for an opportunity where you can talk to them one on one. Try to invite them over to a safe spot, such as a coffee shop or another public place. If you want a more private setting, consider visiting the person at their house or invite them over to yours. That way, you can provide an environment that encourages the person to open up.
3. Show concern and avoid threatening
The last thing you will want is to blame the person for their problem with substance addiction and threaten them with the consequences. It can be frustrating on your part as a loved one to see them trying to brush aside the problem, but you must know that their denial also plays a role. You can help them acknowledge the problem by showing it has impacted their work, health, and relationships. It won’t take a single heart-to-heart talk to get them to accept that they need help, so be patient. The best step you can take is to let them know that you will always be there to help them.
4. Get to the root of the problem
In many instances, substance disorders start from deeper emotional and social problems. These include depression, self-esteem issues, anxiety, and problems at home. It will take time before they decide to disclose these to you, but you can show them that you are willing to listen. From there, you can help them deal with these problems so it becomes easier to manage and treat their addiction. It also helps to get other people involved who can discuss these problems and help the person find their breakthrough.
5. Get another person to help out
If the problem worsens over time, you might as well ask another loved one or friend to help out. This will make the person see how serious the problem has become. Iit will also give them that extra nudge they need to seek treatment. Consider reaching out to a friend, coworker, or family member who is closest to the person. With their help, you can come up with other strategies for convincing the person to overcome their addiction.
7. Learn the best treatment options
Once the person has agreed to seek treatment, you will need to look for the best solutions that can help them overcome their problem. It could get difficult along the way since they might experience withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, there are ways that ease up the experience and help the person detach from their dependence on the substance.
The first thing you can do is to provide the individual with what they need to help them cope, such as a new hobby or interest. It also helps to spend time with them doing healthier activities. If the case is too serious to solve, you may consider enlisting the help of a mental health professional that specializes in substance abuse disorders. You can also bring them to a local substance abuse recovery center. That way, they will have access to the facilities and care that they need to overcome their addiction problem.
If you suspect a loved one or a friend suffering from substance abuse disorder, be ready to lend a helping hand by keeping these tips in mind.