It can be painful to watch a loved one deal with addiction issues, and you might not know where to start when it comes to helping someone through it. Providing support is challenging, but having a support system makes a big difference during rehabilitation and recovery.
Your help can inspire a friend or family member to get the medical care and treatment needed to deal with substance abuse. Here are some ways you can show your support.
What Is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is usually defined as compulsive behavior around a drug that affects a person's ability to function in daily life. Addiction can cause someone to spend most of their time taking drugs or seeking them out. It often involves a physical or mental dependence on a drug.
Over time, substance use can actually cause changes to the brain, making a person more likely to seek out drugs even after a lot of negative consequences. People can also build up a tolerance with continuous drug use, which means they'll need more of a drug than they used to take to produce the same high.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a long-term condition that requires treatment over time. Rehabilitation can help individuals learn coping skills that will be useful throughout recovery.
Some of the consequences associated with drug abuse are:
- Losing a job
- Losing relationships
- Distancing from friends and family
- Health issues
- Stealing to fund drug purchases
- Withdrawal symptoms
Be Prepared for Challenges
Supporting a loved one through addiction can be difficult, but research suggests your help makes it much more likely that a person will enter addiction recovery and continue working towards sobriety.
Getting free of addiction starts with making the decision to enter treatment.
It's important to remember that recovery takes time, and a person needs to make their own choice to seek treatment. You can't make that decision for someone else, because effective treatment requires active participation. Change is gradual, and getting help is just the first step.
Rehabilitation may bring up other mental health issues as drug abuse becomes a less immediate issue. Addiction can be a byproduct of an untreated mental illness, or unprocessed trauma. A therapist Redondo Beach can be a vital part of the recovery process for someone dealing with these issues alongside drug addiction.
Establish Trust Between You and the Addicted Person
When a person is dealing with addiction, it can be hard to put your trust in them. They may have already betrayed your trust in the past. A trusting bond between the two of you can be a lifeline to someone dealing with addiction.
When you're trying to offer support to someone with addiction issues, you can help them trust you by avoiding a few specific behaviors. Lecturing or excessive criticism might feel like the right thing to do, but it can drive someone with addiction away from you, and leave them with a smaller support system.
Avoiding lectures and criticism doesn't mean you need to enable someone's behavior, however. Enabling behaviors harm rather than help. Some forms of enabling are:
- Minimizing the seriousness of a situation
- Justifying someone's behavior
- Taking on their responsibilities.
Forcing someone into treatment can also break the trust between you. If you force someone into a rehab center or other treatment, they're not likely to get the help they need. Even intensive treatment centers need their patients to participate in treatment to create any lasting changes.
It's also best to avoid using any drugs or alcohol around someone who is dealing with addiction. Even if your own use is moderate, your loved one probably won't see a difference between your substance use and their own.
Establish Clear Communication
If you want to provide support to people struggling with addiction, communication is vital. This means being as honest as possible with your loved ones without passing judgment. You can express how their drug use has changed your relationship or affected you personally.
Communicating also means listening to the other person's concerns. When your friend shares their thoughts and feelings, you can help by listening with an open mind. The process of recovery often involves a lot of introspection, and this is a good place to start.
Being able to communicate openly with your loved one can be especially helpful during recovery.
Consider the Treatment Options
There are many options for addiction treatment, ranging from group programs to outpatient therapy. The specific treatment each person needs will depend on the individual. Some people will want to attend a full-time rehabilitation program, while others might get help through 12-step programs.
Depending on the type and severity of the addiction, some people might need medical care to safely stop taking drugs. It's a good idea for someone seeking drug addiction help to consider visiting a medical professional. A professional can offer referrals and suggest evidence-based treatment.
A treatment center is a good option for someone who wants a place where help is available 24/7. Here, your loved one can get health services designed specifically to deal with addiction. As you do your research, make sure to seek out legitimate, evidence-based treatment programs.
Support groups can be helpful for both you and your loved one struggling with addiction. Narcotics Anonymous is a national organization based on the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous, and it's open to anyone addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Nar-Anon is an equivalent to Al-Anon, and it's for the families and friends of addicts. It's a space where you can talk to other people who are affected by a loved one's addiction. You may want to look into support groups like this one if you're closely involved in someone's recovery.
Seek Support and Advice from Experts
Sometimes, seeking out professional help is the best way to proceed. An expert can help you learn more about drug use and the process of recovery. They can also provide information about different kinds of substance abuse treatment. Experts can help your friends and family members find the help they need.
Many patients find outpatient therapy to be a useful form of recovery support. Vonique Schmidt is a clinical counselor who specializes in helping people work through addiction, trauma, and anger in therapy.
As a Redondo Beach addiction therapist, she can provide support for people struggling with addiction and their loved ones. Call 310-291-7837 today to make an appointment or learn more about therapy for addiction issues.