Living with addicts can be mentally, physically and emotionally challenging. While the person caught in the addiction cycle is suffering, so are their family and friends. But knowing how to help an addict can be difficult because these are complex situations that each have their own unique factors. Get some tips below on ways to help an addict without falling into the trap of enabling them. And if you’re ready to help your loved one reach out for professional assistance, contact Greenbranch Recovery for information on our services and how to get involved with them.
The 5 Steps for Helping an Addict
- Know how to spot substance abuse
- Understand the available treatments
- Communicate without confrontation
- Arm yourself with realistic expectations
- Take time out for yourself
Understand the Signs of Addiction
Denial often plays a huge role in the decisions of someone who is dealing with addiction, but it can also impact family members. If someone is shuffling along with daily functionality, it may be tempting to “let them have this one thing,” telling yourself that it’s just a little habit and doesn’t seem to be hurting anything. But even if someone is making it to work or school now and handling the basic requirements of life, it doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting or that the addiction cycle won’t have serious consequences in the long run.
Look for the tell-tale signs and don’t let denial keep you from recognizing that someone you love may be struggling. Some signs of drug addiction can include:
- Changes in a person’s social circle, commitment to work or previous activities of interest or sleep or eating habits
- Unexplained issues with mood, anxiety, depression or physical health
- Risky behaviors that are out of character
- Lying or taking action to hide activities or financial issues
- Being unable to quit using alcohol or drugs, even if they say that they want to
Learn About the Addiction Process and Treatment Options
Educate yourself about what it means to be caught in addiction and what options are available for treatment. By learning as much as you can, whether that involves reading articles online or talking to a counselor yourself, you equip yourself to help your loved one. You can also find out how to help a drug addict who doesn’t want help if you’re worried about the decisions your family member is making. Greenbranch Recovery offers a variety of rehab programs, including Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient and General Outpatient.
Have an Honest, Calm Discussion
While there are many ways to help an addict, including some legal options for seeking court-ordered help, consider starting with an honest discussion about the issue. Choose a time and place that are comfortable and afford you the privacy and time needed to have such a discussion, and try to approach it as calmly as possible. If you’re combative, the other person may automatically adopt a defensive stance, which means the conversation is likely to be unproductive. Instead, let the person know about your concerns and how their behavior is impacting them and those around them. Offer to help them navigate the process of seeking answers and options for recovery.
Keep Expectations Realistic
The person you care about might have taken a long road into addiction, or they could have fallen right into the deep end. No matter how they got there, the recovery road is individual and often lengthy. One of the best ways you can support someone on this road is by having realistic expectations about what recovery looks like. If you have the opportunity to engage in family counseling as your loved one goes through rehab, do so; it often plays a critical role in helping you understand your own role in the person’s recovery and what to expect from the process at every stage.
Practice Strong Self-Care
While you’re supporting and caring for someone else, remember to do the same for yourself. You can’t do recovery for someone else — your loved one has to make the decision and do the work for themselves at some point, and anything you do to keep that from happening could lead to enabling. It can also be detrimental to your own health. So, while they engage in treatment and recovery, take time for yourself. For many people living with addicts, seeing their own counselor can be helpful. You might also seek out a support group, continue to be active in your own social circles and ensure you’re taking care of your body with a healthy diet and exercise. Maintaining your own wellness puts you in a strong position to support your loved one.
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