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help someone who is struggling with addiction

How to Help Someone who is Struggling with Addiction

One of the most challenging things about addiction is that the ones suffering from it are not the only ones affected. The lives of anyone close to the one struggling with addiction will also change.

Everyone will feel the effects differently. For example, partners, kids, and other family members may feel worried and neglected. The actions of the one addicted, such as unprovoked anger, neglect, theft, and more may also hurt them.

If you know, love, and care about someone who’s struggling with an addiction, you must tread carefully. Many may be in denial, may not want help, or may react badly to your efforts. Read on to learn more about helping someone with addiction.

Educate Yourself

The first thing you should do is educate yourself about addiction and the effects it’s having on the person you love. Especially if you’ve never been exposed to drug or alcohol addiction, it can be difficult and overwhelming to witness the changes and strange behaviour you’ll see in your loved one.

It’s important to understand, however, that many of these things are to be expected. Some examples include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Seemingly unprovoked anger
  • Lying and other suspicious behaviours
  • A change in hygiene and self-care habits
  • New friends
  • Theft/trouble with the law
  • The onset or worsening of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues

This list isn’t exhaustive, but things like this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Additionally, you must understand that addiction is not an active choice and is both a physical and psychological condition. It deeply affects their mind and mindset while their body develops a physical need for the substance. While this doesn’t excuse their actions or make their poor behaviour okay, understanding this can help you work through the hurt and other emotions.

A common struggle is to wonder why they’re choosing the substance and/or this new lifestyle over your close friendship or romantic relationship. Realizing How hard it is for them to navigate can help you take it less personally and more readily offer support.

Get Support for Yourself

If you’re serious about wanting to support someone with addiction, you must start by getting support for yourself. Good resources for addiction often come from Al-anon (alcohol support) and Nar-Anon (drug addiction.) These programs help addicts themselves but can also offer support and education for those around them.

Here, you can learn how to cope, how to offer resources, and help your loved one in a healthy and beneficial way.

You may also consider counseling. If you’re very close to someone with an addiction it can be mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing to offer them support. Counseling can help you manage your feelings and regulate your own thoughts and emotions. In turn, this helps you offer better support to them when you’re not overwhelmed and stressed from the get-go.

Practice Self-Care

Supporting yourself also includes maintaining your self-care habits and practices. Whatever self-care looks like for you, don’t let it fall by the wayside. This helps you remain stable and energized, better enabling you to be strong and effective for your loved one.

practice self-care

Keep Expectations Realistic

Even once you’ve educated yourself and ensured you’re in the right mindset to offer help and support, you can’t expect overnight results. Addiction and recovery is a journey and it’s always got lots of ups and downs for everyone involved.

You shouldn’t preach to your loved one or lecture them on their actions. Most of the time they won’t listen and won’t take it to heart. Don’t expect them to keep promises or remain accountable even if they say they will. Don’t be surprised by erratic, strange, or negative behaviour, and expect them to be in denial, at least for a while.

When you don’t create unrealistic expectations for them or yourself, it reduces the disappointment, frustration, anger, and more that you may experience as you move through this process.

Learn About Treatment Options

Although many people in active addiction are resistant to receiving help, especially in the earlier stages, it doesn’t hurt for you to be prepared and encouraging. It’s important to understand that addiction is a progressive disease. It gets worse over time, both mentally and physically, so the sooner they can get help, the better.

Start by researching various treatment types, options, and centers in your area. Use what you know about your loved one and the specific addiction they’re struggling with to determine which options may be best.

Once you have some information to work with, you can encourage them to seek help and treatment. You can’t force them into anything, but you can tactfully make suggestions and offer your support throughout the process.

Some tips on talking to someone with an addiction and encouraging them to seek help:

  • Don’t make them feel bad or guilty.
  • Be gentle, but persistent. Stress the importance of treatment so they don’t end up in an even worse situation.
  • Don’t enable their addiction and maintain boundaries. Encourage and help them to take responsibility for their actions and to be accountable. This can eventually help them decide to seek help on their own.

What Not to Do

Lastly, it can be just as important to know what not to do when you want to help someone with addiction! While you may always have the best of intentions, some things can push them away and make things worse. Some examples of things to avoid include:

  • Don’t get angry and lash out. They may become too defensive and stop trusting you.
  • Don’t judge them and don’t look down on them with lectures and preaching.
  • Don’t try and force them to quit. Trying to make them go to treatment or giving threats and ultimatums can put them on the defense and push them further away from help.
  • Don’t ignore the problem. It can be hard to accept that your loved one is struggling with an addiction, but it’s important that you recognize it right away and don’t just hope it’ll go away. They also might be unsure how to ask for help and pretending it’s not happening won’t help them get there.

don’t get angry and lash out

Start Helping Your Loved One Today

Helping loved ones suffering from addiction is never easy, but it’s not impossible. Offering support for addiction can cost you too, in the way of stress, mental strain, and intense emotions. But with the right tools, strategies, and coping mechanisms, you and your loved one can get through it together.

If you have any questions about this pervasive disease or want to know more about our rehab and recovery services, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!