Struggling with addiction can make you feel powerless, whether you’re the addict or someone who loves them. We all want to help people be better, but even professionals can find it difficult to help addicts at the time. For an untrained person, the task can tax their communication skills and patience to an extent they’ve never felt before. While it is possible for anyone to help their loved ones who suffer from addiction, you must be sure to understand them first and set realistic expectations for yourself.
Communication with an Addict
It’s important to enter these conversations prepared. Helping someone with drug addiction is difficult and taxing, and common responses to stress such as anger and criticism will undo much of your progress. However, restraining your stress and anger through willpower will make it hard to maintain your positive influence in your friend or family member’s life. Practice alternative stress management techniques both for your own sake and to help more effectively.
Obstacles to Helping Loved Ones with Addiction
Most people don’t know how to talk out serious issues on the level necessary to help an addict. When people have good intentions such as helping someone kick an addiction, they often miss that they aren’t actually being helpful.
While many people resort to criticism and so-called tough love, addicts generally subject themselves to more internal negativity than you could ever direct at them. You cannot criticize or shame someone into breaking an addiction. Not only do they already feel a great deal of shame, but you’ll find this to be one of your greatest obstacles.
The shame that an addict often feels can cause them to become stuck in their destructive habits. Exacerbating this can drive them to further drug use as a coping mechanism, and helping them requires working around and managing these negative feelings. From there, you’ll be able to guide them toward positive decisions and drug use reduction.
The First Step: Rebuilding Your Relationship
When drug abuse has damaged a relationship, your first step is to repair it. Drugs or not, no one responds well to someone attempting to enter their life and dictate their behavior. Instead of coming to convince them to quit using drugs, you need to start talking with them and building trust. If they’ve hurt you in some way as a cause of their addiction, giving them the opportunity to apologize is a place to start.
However, this goes both ways. You can’t sacrifice your well-being in the name of helping them if you simply tolerate things they do that harm you, and you won’t be helping them much either. It’s also important not to enable their addiction. While you shouldn’t be critical or judgmental, you need to allow them to face the consequences of their actions.
At some point, you should try to broach the topic of their addiction. However, you should approach it in a delicate, honest, and vulnerable way. When you talk about the ways that you’ve been affected badly by their addiction, you can center the hurt you’ve felt rather than focusing on blaming them for it. Talking to an addict in this way is much more likely to get a good response, but even if you don’t make progress you should try to continue being a good influence in their life.
Help Them Start Counseling and Treatment
Making someone quit is an unrealistic, unachievable goal. Instead, your goal is to remain in their life, be a good influence, and help them make the decision to get better. Only the addict can choose to start recovery, and the love and patience of those close to them can help push them in this direction.
Once they do begin treatment, then you should respect their privacy and not be pushy, but invite them to confide in you as needed. Different people require different levels of support, and you should try to be there for them in the way they need you to be.
If you live in California, then Dana Point Rehab Campus is an excellent choice. We understand the struggles of addiction and use expert therapists and the latest, evidence-based treatment methods to help people recover from the scourge of addiction.