Addiction recovery, be it from drugs, alcohol or any other form of obsession, is a long and hard journey, not only for the person suffering from addiction, but also for the people close to them. When a loved one is having a drug problem, you might be tempted to think they simply chose this behavior and don’t have any will to quit, but oftentimes, they simply can not do it without a little help from the outside.
Being supportive and trying to point them towards the right path is the only thing you can do to help someone who is suffering from drug abuse. But living with an addict is not simple, so you might be tempted to think that forcing them to overcome their bad behavior is the only thing you can do to help. In reality, this can do more bad than good, and so do other reactions that you might feel you are entitled to at the time.
Don’t blame them
Oftentimes, the person struggling with addiction is aware of their issue and is already going through the process of blaming themselves because they can’t stop. Reminding them of this is not going to do any good and might even reassure them of the fact that they simply can’t do anything to stop.
In order to help them, you need to be aware of the fact that addiction is a disease, not a choice. Constantly implying that they are at fault with comments such as “Once an addict always an addict.” or “It’s your choice to live like this.” can only make them feel misunderstood and drive them further away from you or getting any kind of help.
Don’t get angry at their behavior
While it may be natural to lash out when someone close to you seems to have no control over themselves, expressing your anger will not do them any good. This does not mean, however, that you should allow them to treat you in a bad way, but you need to find an appropriate way to let them know how their actions are hurting you.
If you find yourself getting angry at them, the best thing you can do is to allow yourself time to calm down and approach them in a gentle way. Explain to them how much you care about them and how this is affecting you, without forgetting that this situation is not about you, but about their journey to recovery. If you feel this is starting to affect you, one thing you can do is talk to a therapist or go to support groups that focus on the family and friends of the addicts.
Don’t force a certain type of treatment
Sometimes, you might have spent days looking for the best treatment for someone dealing with addiction and feel you have the right amount of information to start recommending solutions to the person struggling with it. But truth is, nobody can know for sure what form of treatment is right for someone, besides a specialist. Your intentions might be good, and you may truly believe your advice could help, but the only person who can decide this is your loved one and their therapist.
If, for instance, you suggest they go off to the best rehab Birmingham has to offer and lock themselves inside a clinic for weeks, they might find that solution unsuited and get even more tempted to run away from it. At the same time, they might be open to trying an outpatient treatment that only requires them to go to the rehab facility two or three times a week and still be able to maintain their personal life.
Don’t expect results to happen overnight
Results don’t happen by just asking them to quit an expect that tomorrow they will be a whole new person. In order to be effective, recovery needs to be a continuous process and changes need to happen at a controlled pace. Pushing them towards making drastic changes in their life can only drive them further away from the expected results and make them feel more weight is put on their shoulders.
Be aware that relapse can happen even to the strongest of people and it has nothing to do with them not wanting to quit. Sometimes, the cravings and urge to use again can be extremely hard to control and they can simply not resist them. If this happens, show them that you appreciate the progress they have made. Encourage them to start again and support them when they need it.
Don’t always try to cover for them
Although you should always be by their side and support them, don’t turn this into a habit of covering up for them and tolerating their behavior. For instance, people who suffer from addiction often find themselves struggling with their finances in order to maintain their addiction. Don’t lend them money all the time thinking it will help them stay out of trouble, as it will get them the feeling that they will always be saved and not realize the situation they have gotten themselves into.
Although it is never easy to see someone you care about suffer, you need to let them become aware of the consequences of their actions. Oftentimes, hitting rock bottom is the one thing that needs to happen in order to make them stop fueling their addiction.
Don’t forget to care for yourself
Living with someone who suffers from addiction can sometimes be exhausting, even if you are not the patient yourself. In order to provide the support your loved one needs in order to recover, you need to take care of yourself as well. One way to do so is by joining support groups that specialize in helping people whose close ones are dealing with addiction.
These support groups can help you realize you are not alone and teach you how to deal with the situation better. Look for support organizations and therapists who have specialized in this and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Taking the decision to stay and help someone you care about who struggles with recovery is an extremely thoughtful gesture, but sometimes you need to get guidance yourself in order to continue supporting them.