Addiction is a terrible thing. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, in any form, you will find they are no longer the person you once knew. The disease will slowly change who they are and how they act. It will consume them entirely and it can be very painful to watch. You want to help them, but everything you do seems to make them angry or lead to further withdrawal, and the last thing you want to do is to push them away. Here are some tips to help.
The first thing you should do is simply offer help. Explain that you know they have a problem, that it’s not their fault and that you are there to help them. Many people dealing with addiction either fail to realize that they have a problem or believe that they are doing an excellent job of hiding it. So, this first conversation may come as a shock to them. Don’t be surprised if they deny it straight away, but keep offering regardless. In their own time, they will become aware of a need for help and remember you.
There will be times along the road to recovery when you need to practice tough love. Be honest with them. Show them how their addiction is affecting them and those around them. Show them how much worse it could get in the future. Be as honest as you can.
It’s important not to try and force them into anything that they are not yet ready for, as this could set them back or lead to further denial. However, it’s a good idea to let them know that help is available from a variety of different sources. Mention support groups, doctors and treatment centers such as The Recovery Village.
Set clear boundaries as to what you will and will not do. Stick to these, and follow through with consequences if they are broken. Failing to do this will enable their addiction and make you seem weak and easy to manipulate. Saying no to someone who is suffering can be one of the hardest parts of helping someone through addiction but it’s also one of the most important.
Learn all you can about their condition and what to expect. This will help you to understand their behavior and symptoms, find the best ways to help and prepare for the future.
Look After Yourself
Looking after and helping someone suffering from an addiction is difficult. You are bound to find it both physically and emotionally exhausting. So, it’s exceptionally important that you take the time to look after yourself. Make sure that you are eating well, getting plenty of sleep and relaxing as much as you can. Take some time out for yourself whenever you need it.
Remember, you can’t force them to stop. Do what you can, but, ultimately, the choice to move forward must be theirs and they can only do it for themselves. Not because you want them to.