Helping a loved one with addiction is no easy task. Whenever someone is struggling with an addiction, they are likely struggling with other compounding problems in their life. These could be physical issues or mental health problems, whether it’s short term or chronic.
However, it can be very difficult to help someone who has an addiction, and you’ll be met with plenty of pushback. They might disagree that they have a problem, fear the consequences of addressing that problem, or simply don’t want to change what they’re doing. There’s no easy or fast way to help someone who’s struggling, but by taking the right steps forward, you can improve your chances of making a difference that matters.
Learn About Addiction
Start by educating yourself on recovery and addition; this way, you’ll have a more thorough understanding of what it’s like to be in their shoes and what to expect before, during, and after treatment. The more you understand, the better you’ll be able to empathize with them and put yourself in their shoes, which can in turn allow you to put your guard down a bit.
Create a Stress-Free Environment
Many addicts turn to their addictive habits as a coping mechanism, and to curtail some of the stress that they’re experiencing. If the atmosphere between you and your loved one is stressful, it will only make the situation worse. Think about the different ways you can establish trust between you and them.
Start by realizing that your insistence on helping them might make them feel as though they’re being controlled. Constant pressure can cause them to shrink in the other direction. But this doesn’t mean that you should have to deal with their unwanted behavior; take a step back and let them know that you’re both in this together.
Remind them that you just want to talk, and won’t force or pressure them into anything. Ask questions and allow them to ask you questions as well. Avoid getting defence, criticizing, or blaming, which could end up making things far worse.
Actively Participate in Their Recovery
One of the most proactive ways you can help your loved one is by actively participating in their recovery. There are many ways to do this. First and foremost, think about the help you need, too. For instance, it’s not uncommon for an individual dealing with their partner’s addiction to adopt the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality. Perhaps you’ve also dabbled in their drug of choice from time to time, and maybe even lean towards it to deal with your loved one’s addiction. In this case, suggest signing up for sober living for couples, where you and your partner can actively work together towards a common goal. For many addicts, the idea of going on this journey alone prevents them from taking the right steps, but by joining them, you can focus on healthier habits as a unit.
Don’t Forget to Focus on Yourself
Chances are the loved one who is battling an addiction is hurting you and others in the process. It can be easy to focus so much on helping them get better that you neglect yourself in the process. Don’t forget to address your needs, too. Being the family member, friend, or partner to someone dealing with addiction is a very stressful experience, and if you can’t get the help you need to take a battle of this magnitude, chances are you won’t be able to help someone else. Speak with a counselor or therapist to help you develop the stress management skills you need to aid yourself on a day to day basis.
Recovery is a lifelong process. Although rehab is a critical first step on the long path to recovery, it is not a cure-all, and it doesn’t solve all the problems associated with that addiction. Recovery can change a person’s goals and even their personality. In some cases, it may even force the addict to confront underlying issues with their loved ones that may have been masked with their addiction. The sooner that you understand that recovery is forever and that other challenges will need to be addressed post-discovery, the better positioned you’ll be.
Understanding that relationship, financial, and health problems will likely follow treatment, and do your best to plan for them. Make changes to the environment to support their recovery. This includes avoiding or helping them avoid social situations where a relapse might occur, finding new, sober activities that you can enjoy, removing addictive substances from the home, and helping them stay active and busy.