We all have our struggles. However, those of us who never had to deal with addiction personally often underestimate the anguish and terror addicts go through on a daily basis. Too often, they bottle their torment up without ever revealing to the world what it feels like to lose yourself to a substance. Yet numbers tell a mind-boggling, eye-opening story. Did you know that nearly half of US adults have a loved one suffering from addiction? That accounts for the ones we actually know about. And what about the rest of the globe?
While you cannot decide what’s best for them until they are ready to recognize they have an issue, there are many ways in which you can help or hinder their progress and recovery. Too many people either sit in silence as their beloved struggle, while others become the “helicopter parent” version of someone who only further derails their wellbeing despite the best of intents. Here are a few helpful tips to take to heart if you know and love an addict.
Skip the lectures
You’re upset, hurt, disappointed, and many other negative words in between. You want to pour it all out in words and tell them that this is not a good path for them and that they should have never started with substance abuse. However, you don’t have a bargaining chip in the form of “if you loved me” in this battle. There are no right ways to lecture or preach your loved one who is experiencing these issues. This is not about you.
A negative approach based on your so-called voice of reason will not work. They already know it all. These words will only make them feel even more pressured into doing something they might not be prepared for, and they will likely shut you out completely. That will only prevent them from ever getting the help they need, so tread carefully with the language you use.
Help them make actual decisions
The numbers clearly show that the US is dealing with a true epidemic when it comes to addiction. No matter which state you live in, you most likely already know a few people with this very issue. How do you deal with this situation? For starters, you can talk to others in your community, and look for support centers that provide information on how to handle such situations. Your role in the life of an addict should be the one of love, empathy, and support.
With enough information in your hands, you can actually help them find the right support system in your state. You can look into various reputable California rehab centers to make sure they know their options, as well as what kind of treatment and therapy they can get in your area. Furthermore, you can then help them prepare, organize their time, talk to them when they feel they need it, and stay in the loop throughout the treatment.
Remember: this is not about you
There is no way we can stress this enough. They are already overwhelmed with their own emotions (or the lack thereof) and struggles, and they cannot benefit from feeling responsible for your own emotions. When you feel hurt, stressed, tense, disappointed, or anything else for that matter, it’s crucial that you channel your emotions properly. You can share them with your therapist, or process them through meditation, but you need to make sure you’re not venting on the person struggling with addiction.
Ultimately, it’s not up to you to “fix” their problems and “force” them to stop one behavior and replace it with another. It will be difficult, you will feel the need to preach, teach, complain, lecture, and everything in between, but you need to be able to set your issues aside and focus on what really matters: helping the person you love.
Keep learning about the problem
Since addiction is still treated as a taboo topic, most of us are misinformed and poorly educated on the subject. In order to be of help, you should make sure you have learnt as much as possible before you make any decisions. If you haven’t experienced addiction yourself, you also might be quick to judge those who have and dismiss them for having a weak character, but the more you learn, the easier it will be to let go of prejudice and embrace your potential to help.
Once again, professional institutions such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be of great help. Use other online resources, too, and do your research thoroughly to get as much information as possible about your specific situation. You can attend support group meetings as well, ask other people who have been through a similar experience, and always keep an open mind.
It’s noble and generous of you to want to help your loved one finally break free of their addiction. With that in mind, make sure you follow these steps in the process and tailor your role based on what the professionals will share with you. Only then can you give them the support they need and deserve in this time of hardship. There is always so much you can do. Make sure you do it right.