Did you know that almost 20 million Americans (over the age of 12) are battling a substance use disorder?
If you’re loved one struggles with drug addiction, you know how painful it can be to work towards sobriety.
It’s not only painful for the addict but for those who love them too.
Read on for our top 5 tips for staying sane while helping someone with drug addiction.
1. Helping Someone with Drug Addiction Starts with Knowing the Signs
Knowing the symptoms of drug abuse can help you be more prepared to help someone struggling with an addiction.
Here are some of the most common signs of drug addiction:
- Using an increasing amount of drugs to get the effect or avoid withdrawals
- Continuing use even after knowing the harm
- Neglecting responsibilities to family, job, finances, etc.
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Changes in mood or sleep patterns
If you notice any of these symptoms in a loved one, ask them directly if they are struggling with an addiction.
2. You Can’t Fix Them, but You Can Love Them
One of the most important things to remember is that you can’t “fix” a loved one’s addiction. Addiction is classified as a chronic disease and it requires trained mental health professionals to manage.
Many feel like it’s their full responsibility to treat their loved one’s addiction. But the truth is, that’s impossible without professional resources.
Instead of “fixing”, “healing”, or “overcoming” your loved one’s addictions, focus your efforts on loving, supporting, making regular contact, and avoiding judgment.
Making yourself primarily responsible for the success of someone else’s sobriety is not only unfair to you, but it’s also cripplingly heavy.
Regardless of the addict’s choices, you can always succeed at offering love, support, and warmth when they are receptive and in need.
3. Be Willing to Talk
A lot of frustration along the treatment journey happens when family members and friends aren’t on the same page as the addict. They have different expectations, levels of experience, and emotions.
Be willing to have an open and honest dialogue with your loved one. Feel free to ask them questions about what steps they are willing and ready to take.
If they express a willingness to seek professional help then offer to go with them to see a doctor who understands addiction treatment and diagnoses.
Ask your loved one if there are things you can do or change to make your home a safer place for them to be in. Are there any substances in your home that are a threat to their sobriety?
Having an honest conversation can help the addict and their loved ones create a solid starting point for the journey to sobriety.
4. Shame and Judgment Don’t Help
Addiction is a chronic disease, and like any other, there will be times when it intensifies. Relapses happen and they are painful and frustrating to an addict and their loved ones.
It’s natural to feel angry, upset and disappointed when your loved one relapses. Many loved ones report having feelings and questions like these:
- If they really loved me they wouldn’t keep doing this.
- Why can’t they just stop?
- How many more times are we going to have to go through this?
- They said they wouldn’t do this again, but they lied.
- They are breaking my trust.
While these are normal emotions to experience, it’s absolutely vital that you not respond to the addict with shame and judgment.
When an addict relapses or confides their addiction to you the best way to respond is with empathy and love.
- I am so sorry that this happened.
- I love you, and I am so sorry for the pain that you’re in. Can I give you a hug?
- I can see how much pain you’re in.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is acknowledge their struggle without trying to initially fix the problem.
5. Ask for Help
If you find that being a support to someone with an addiction is affecting your own mental health or wellness, seek help.
See a mental health professional or therapist who can help you to healthily and safely process the situation.
There is no shame in seeking help from someone who has dedicated their professional life to helping people understand their mental health and live better.
Helping someone with drug addiction is an emotionally taxing journey. It’s important to remember that managing addiction is a lifelong process and that it isn’t your fault if your loved on relapses.