When you have a loved one who has become addicted to using drugs, alcohol, or illicit substances, you may feel a loss of control or entirely overwhelmed at the thought of helping them. If you want to help a drug addict or an individual who has fallen on hard times, there are a few ways to do so tactically to prevent an upset or the distancing of your loved one from you. With a thorough understanding of addiction and how it infiltrates everyday life and empathy for your friend or relative, provide the resources necessary for your loved one to truly face and overcome their addiction head-on.
Become Educated About Addiction
One of the most important steps to take when you want to help a drug addict to overcome their addiction is to learn about the disease in its entirety. Understanding the causes of addiction, genetic links, and even environmental factors that often lead to addiction is a way to better empathize with those who are struggling themselves.
If your loved one has struggled with addiction throughout their entire life, consider why they may have turned to drugs and alcohol in their past. What type of lifestyle did they live growing up? Was their household tumultuous, abusive, or potentially dangerous? Did your loved one struggle with relationships or close connections with relatives such as their parents? What type of adversity has your loved one faced in their life? Have they experienced job loss, the loss of a child, a home foreclosure, or even a falling out between friends and other relatives?
When you truly want to know how to help an addict, it is essential to remain empathetic and to learn more about the individual’s past, potential triggers, and environmental factors that may be leading to giving in to temptation and relapsing. Having the ability to help an addict overcome their habit is never easy, but it is possible once you have established a potential cause or trigger of the addiction itself.
Communicate Openly and Honestly
It is always important to communicate openly and honestly with a loved one, even if you are fearful that it may result in an upset. Rather than confronting your loved one about their addiction and immediately providing a direct path to a resolution, simply express your love, care, and concern. Allow your loved one to speak about their addiction without feeling judged, shamed, or guilted. Avoid speaking over your loved one, even if you are genuinely concerned about their health and wellbeing. Establishing trust and communicating effectively are two essential components of knowing how to help an addict overcome their addictions.
Understand that your loved one is not always likely in the mood to discuss their current addictions, habits, or lifestyle choices. Respect the boundaries of your friend or relative to prevent being shut out entirely from their life. When you show your loved one that you are respectful of their boundaries and any space they may need, they are more likely to communicate with you and reach out to you when they find themselves in a time of need.
It is also advisable to remember that many individuals who are struggling with an addiction may not yet be ready to discuss it or to admit that they have a problem. Many individuals who struggle with a serious or severe addiction prefer denying that it has infiltrated their lives until it has physically or financially affected them in a negative manner.
While it may feel difficult to sit idly by while your loved one continues down a path of destruction, it is also extremely important to establish trust and a good rapport with your loved one to be there in their time of need. Simply ask your loved one if there is anything you can help them with, whether it is at home, with their family life, or even their addiction itself.
Avoid Criticizing Your Loved One
Avoid being overly critical of your loved one, especially if they are currently in a fragile state or if they have yet to accept and confront their addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other substances. Too much criticism of an individual who is facing addiction can quickly lead to being shut out or ignored entirely, even if you have well-meaning intentions. Individuals who are dealing with an addiction are not always capable of thinking clearly and without the fog of their addiction distracting them, making it even more difficult for them to hear criticism or any negative information pertaining to their current way of life.
The best way to communicate with a loved one who has a serious addiction is to wait for them to take a break during binges or when they are dabbling in drugs and alcohol the most. Constantly monitoring your loved one is one way to ensure they are safe and protected at all times, even if they are using questionable substances. When you choose to confront an angry, upset, or distraught individual while they are using drugs and alcohol, you may ultimately do more harm than good to your relationship and the prospective future of your loved one.
Research Local Resources
If you want to know how to help an addict by providing resources and results, keep in mind that individuals react differently to the prospect of outside help. Not all individuals struggling with addiction are likely to remain openminded and optimistic about the opportunity to work with counselors, medical professionals, and addiction specialists. Remember to always consider the feelings and emotions of those who are struggling with addiction, especially if an individual is not yet comfortable admitting and confronting their habit.
Research inpatient, outpatient, and even intensive outpatient rehabilitation centers and treatment programs in your local area. Collect brochures, flyers, and even online information to share with your loved one at the appropriate time. As you continue to communicate openly about addiction while sharing your own struggles and gaining the trust of your loved one, mention the resources you have discovered while offering companionship if necessary to help your loved one overcome their addiction for good.
Defining addiction is not always easy, especially as addiction is often triggered by various environmental and social factors in an individual’s life. Because addiction is highly individualized, getting a better understanding of your loved one’s challenges is truly important to grasp the struggles and obstacles they are facing on their own each day. When you understand addiction and the perspective of an individual who wants to overcome their addiction, it becomes much easier to lend the moral, emotional, and mental support necessary for them to stay on track throughout their journey to a life of sobriety.