How to Help an Addicted Friend or Relative

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Watching your friend or relative go through the struggles of addiction can be an extremely heartbreaking experience. You feel a mixture of emotions that can tear you apart emotionally. You may resent their addiction, fear for their lives, understand their struggles with abuse or depression, yet still feel like walking away. Addiction causes millions of deaths a year from prescription medications and illicit drugs. While it’s easy to blame one issue such as overprescribing or easy access to drugs, it won’t help your loved one with their struggles now. Stopping them from losing their jobs or ruin a marriage because of using may not be your responsibility, however, you can still be there for them in this crucial time of need. Here are some ways to help your friend or relative during their battle with addiction.

Rehabilitation centers such as private rehab or hospitals can offer a variety of services. There are doctors and therapists to provide medical attention and emotional support. A therapist trained in CBT can help patients discover triggers that may influence the want or need to use. Together, they work with recovering addicts to alter their habits and ways of thinking. By becoming consciously aware of the extreme dependency, the addict can substitute a healthy habit such as walking, yoga, or creative expression. After coming home, your loved one would benefit from “90 in 90” or attend 90 meetings in 90 days. This continues the support after rehab with other members in recovery.

Your loved ones aren’t the only ones who need support during this time. Al-anon and Nar-anon are programs for members of the family and friends of recovering addicts or those currently using. Supporting a friend or family member during their battle with addiction also means doing so without enabling them. Knowing they are asking for money to buy drugs or giving in when asking for medication because they’re in pain can be difficult. You don’t want to see them suffer, however, they can’t get better when you provide them with the means to abuse drugs or alcohol. Loving someone who’s an addict can be heartbreaking especially when denying them what they want. This can lead them to act out or guilt you into doing what they want. Substance abuse affects everyone involved, not just the addict. Talking to a therapist to help guide you through this time is important for your mental health too.

There are important factors to understand when helping a friend or relative in need. Harsh ultimatums can work with some addicts, giving them the push they need to seek treatment. Unfortunately trying to push someone into an intervention or rehab may backfire. Forcing an addict into a program may cause resentment and other potential dangers. They may leave early by voluntarily signing out, skip going in the first place, or completing the program just to go back to using. Many addicts have low self-esteem and could fear disappointing you. Years have been spent deceiving the people they love and even if they’re in recovery, they can still feel a great deal of shame. Letting your loved one know and understand you love them unconditionally is an enormous component. Let them know you’re open to rebuilding your relationship

Your loved one may cease to contact you especially if their addiction becomes worse. It’s common for addicts to go out and use before entering rehab. Or they may have been arrested at some point or even living somewhere you don’t know about. If they were released after a stint in jail and never called you once they were out, their well-being can be a cause for concern for the family. You can begin to research their former and present whereabouts by looking to find criminal records online. You can reach out through social media to let them know you’re there when they’re ready to come home. Continue to pay for their phone bill (if you are already) and credit cards. You can track them if necessary and it gives them a life-line to you when they’re ready to call you.