Help someone struggling with addiction

Do you suspect they may be struggling with addiction? 

Are you worried about a loved one and think (or know) if they struggle with addiction? If so, it is crucial to take action. Addiction can be a difficult thing to face on your own, and it can be even more challenging if you are not sure where to turn for help. This blog post will provide tips on what to do if you suspect a loved one is struggling with addiction.

Here are six ways to help someone struggling with addiction

1. Talk to your loved ones about their addiction.

• Addiction is a disease, and both parties need to realize this for the addict to go into treatment. Gently ease into the conversation as much as possible (as best you can) about getting your loved one into treatment, as this can often be a sensitive subject for many addicts. If they still cannot see that they have a problem for whatever reason after you attempt to have this conversation, then maybe try from a different angle—possibly bring someone else in to discuss this, or, if it is the worst-case-scenario, limit your contact with this person as much as possible until they (the addict) realize that there is a problem and need help. As difficult and possibly painful as this may seem, it is a necessary first step to the addict getting the support they need to heal and get on the path to recovery.

2. Find out if they are already getting help for their addiction.

• This can be anything from individual therapy to support groups for addiction. Some support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). At these meetings, recovering addicts can often find a sponsor to help them out and support them, as well as keep them much more accountable in every aspect of their life staying clean and sober. While in individual therapy, the therapist will usually suggest these groups for the recovering addict and give a list or schedule of when the meetings occur and the different locations for each session. It is then up to the recovering addict to actually attend the meetings and take additional/further steps from there.

3. Make sure not to enable them by enabling their behavior or giving them money that could be used on drugs or other addictive substances.

• Finding new, sober activities to do together may seem like a challenge at first, but it can end up being a bit of a fun task! Make sure to remove any drugs or addictive substances from the place of residence (house, apartment, etc.). For example, if the individual has an addiction to drugs, remove anything drug-related that can be seen as addictive. If the person is addicted to either drugs or alcohol, make sure to not attend any gatherings where these substances would be present. This is especially important in the early parts of the recovery process.

• Also, maybe offer to go with them to some meetings (AA, NA, etc.) to not feel so alone. Some recovering addicts may feel a bit embarrassed at the beginning of the recovery process to attend these meetings. Offering to accompany them to some of these meetings would show that you support them going to the meetings and show that you genuinely care about them getting better and helping them on their path to recovery.

4. Encourage them to get into treatment, even if it’s just for a day – this can make all the difference in getting clean and sober.

5. Be there for your loved one as much as possible; don’t give up hope because you never know what might happen next.

• Some days, it may seem like they are not making any progress, or sometimes going backward in progress. When they are on the road to recovery, they often feel these frustrations, too. They may feel like they are not making progress or are going backward in recovery. As hard as it may be, patience with both yourself and your loved one is essential in these moments. Imagine if you were in their shoes, and you felt down about your progress (or seemingly lack thereof), and those who are supposed to be supporting you seem to be getting frustrated with you about what progress you made (or supposed lack of progress). The ability to see from another person’s perspective would be essential in these moments.

6. If they refuse treatment, take away privileges like driving or using the phone until they agree to go through with it (this is especially important if you suspect someone has hit rock bottom).

• Those struggling with addiction of any sort are much more likely to get the help they need when they are forced to face the repercussions and consequences of their actions. Allowing them to make mistakes without you coming to help them out is one of the most helpful and beneficial ways to get your loved one(s) the necessary help.

The recovery process will not be smooth sailing, and it will be challenging for all parties (you, family members, and the addicted person). When dealing with an addict, either in the family or as a friend, it is of the utmost importance that you take care of yourself first. Those dealing with and trying to help someone suffering from an addiction often put others’ needs above their own. This results in a lack of self-care, a lowered immune system (resulting in more frequent illnesses), and depression and anxiety emerging.

Taking the next step while helping someone who’s struggling with addiction.

Make sure they feel safe enough to speak openly and honestly about their situation. Here are some ways to offer support and help your loved one going through recovery:

• Offer your support or assistance in finding resources for treatment or recovery (this could include attending meetings with them).

• If the person agrees, offer a plan of action to move forward, like setting up doctor’s appointments or providing transportation for medical services.

• It is vital to trust your loved ones while they are going through the often complex recovery process, but be mindful that you are not going back to old habits. Think about the behavior(s) that were harmful to them and the relationship between you and your loved one(s), and be more cognizant of when you are slipping back into these behaviors, so you can put a stop to it right then.

• Find a method of communication that would work for both of you. This can include phone calls, in-person visits (if safe and allowed), emails, or text messages. This is a beautiful opportunity to verbalize (phone calls) or write out (emails or text messages) your support for them as they go through recovery.

• Know that recovery for an addict is a life-long process. There is a chance that your loved one would relapse multiple times in the process of finding a treatment that works best for them. It is crucial to support the recovering addict in those moments by helping them get back into rehab and recovery as immediately after the relapse as possible—the sooner, the better and more helpful/beneficial

• One of the major causes of an addict’s relapsing is stress. This risk is highest in the early days of getting out of rehab. Although the pressure of the outside world cannot be eliminated, there are several ways to reduce it. These include journaling as often as possible, meditation, exercise, breathing exercises, yoga, and various forms of artistic expression. Whatever works for the person recovering from addiction is the best route to take.

The process of helping a loved one who suffers from addiction can be challenging. It’s important to know that you are not alone in this situation and there is hope for recovery with the right resources, support system, and treatment program.

If you need more information about what it means to provide support as an enabler vs being supportive but not intrusive contact us today so we can answer your questions. Our team would love to hear from you!