Did you know that 10% of adults in the United States will struggle with a drug use disorder in their lifetime? To make matters worse, 75% of those addicts will never receive treatment.
If you’re watching someone in your life deal with addiction, you might feel helpless. But there are plenty of ways in which you can help.
Here are some easy yet effective ways that you can provide addiction support to someone close to you in their time of need.
Learn About Addiction
It’s tough to understand addiction unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Addiction can take hold of a person physically as well as emotionally, encompassing every aspect of one’s life.
Because of addiction’s difficult and personal nature, it may be hard to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes.
Researching addiction can give you a better sense of addicts go through and is a great first step toward practicing empathy and compassion.
Reading this blog is a great start. You can also reach out to addiction counselors and ask about specific resources they may recommend. You may also want to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting alone to get perspective from the recently sober.
Treat It like Any Other Illness
Psychologists and medical professionals alike agree that addiction deserves classification as a disease. And like a disease like diabetes or dementia, certain genetic predispositions may increase a person’s likelihood of becoming an addict.
Still, there’s quite a stigma surrounding addiction. People tend to believe that addiction is rooted in a character flaw or could be avoided if a person made a different choice or two.
The sooner you shake off that mindset, the sooner you can begin helping someone with an addiction. Reframe how you view addiction, whether it’s to a substance like drugs or alcohol or behavior like gambling or sex.
And in the meantime, view for more info on how clinical professionals approach addiction from a “one size doesn’t fit all” perspective.
Be Careful About Your Language
The type of language you use around an addict can either help or hinder their progress.
For instance, using words with negative connotations like ‘weakness’ or even ‘addict’ as some experts argue, may cause your loved one to pull away and turn their feelings inward. Instead, focus on using words that don’t come across as accusatory or harsh.
Admittedly, this won’t be easy. As mentioned above, cultural perceptions of addiction are still evolving so harsher language may spring to mind faster than a neutral or non-judgemental word.
Still, you should aim to do your best. As you start to reframe your views on addiction and sobriety, your tone will naturally change.
Provide Resources That Encourage Sobriety
The best way to describe struggling with addiction is to think of it as getting stuck in the bottom of an old well. You can see the sunlight peeking out from above, but you have no way of reaching the surface. You’re trapped, and with no ladder, rope, or rescue on the way, it feels as though that won’t change.
Suffice to say, it’s a bleak way to live. That’s why providing an addict with resources is such a valuable asset.
It doesn’t have to be much. Even if you help them find a local meeting to attend, recommend a therapist, or look into rehab centers for or with them, you’re doing them a huge favor.
Small gestures, no matter how meaningless they seem, can make all the difference sometimes.
Offer to Attend Meetings with Them
Of course, resources can be more than recommendations or a quick Google search. Your time is another valuable way to show you care.
Attending one’s first few sobriety meetings is intimidating. Your loved one may not know anyone at the meeting, have no idea what to expect, or have transportation.
Just going and sitting alongside your friend or family member can make a world of difference.
Keep Your Expectations in Check
Addiction and addictive tendencies won’t disappear overnight. Recovery is an ongoing process that some argue never truly ends.
As a result, you won’t want to put your loved one on a pedestal.
Expect challenges. There may be days where the addict in your life reverts back to harmful behaviors. 90% of all alcoholics, for example, relapse at least once within the first four years of sobriety.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to give up. Instead, take it a day at a time.
Understand that there will be some difficult days. Your loved one may never get 100% sober, even.
What matters is that you never give up and lose hope. Recovering addicts need someone to believe they can change.
Remember to Listen
Worried you might say the wrong thing? Don’t say anything at all.
Sometimes an addict needs someone to listen — even if it’s just to vent. Venting can be a healthy and productive means of expressing one’s emotions and hearing someone’s point of view can establish trust and empathy.
Create a Safe Environment
The good news is that if you’re following this list so far, you’re well on your way to creating a happy, healthy environment that’s conducive to recovery.
So what are some other ways you can create a clean environment for a recovering addict?
For starters, remove all temptations. Get rid of any substances they may use and abuse. So if they’re struggling with alcoholism, remove all alcohol from your home.
Likewise, if you imbibe in the substance or behavior your loved one is addicted to, make sure to indulge away from them.
Last but not least, make sure they know that they can count on you 24/7. Provide an open heart and open mind and prove to them that you’re not here to judge.
Providing Addiction Support When It Matters the Most
These tips for addiction support can increase your loved one’s odds of living a clean and sober lifestyle.
Above all else, remember that recovery is a journey. It’s going to take a great deal of patience and understanding to overcome, but showing your unconditional support can mean the difference between life or death.
For more tips on how you can help those in your life, make sure to check back with our blog!