It’s hard not to judge an addict. Many times their addiction gets them to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
They lie, cheat, and even steal. Suddenly, the person you knew and loved is gone and someone else seems to have taken over their body.
Helping an addict isn’t easy. Especially if they’re nearing rock bottom. It’s hard to watch someone you love and care about love themselves to drugs and/or alcohol.
Often, addictions leave family and friends watching helplessly as the addict spirals out of control. But there is something we can do.
If you’re looking for how to help an addict, keep reading. We’re sharing with you how your support is a first and vital step to getting drug addiction help.
Why Helping an Addict Is So Important To You
Thankfully, today there is help for addicts. There are all types of treatment centers available all across the country, many of which accept insurance. Read more here to learn where to find one.
However, in the past, we were told that you couldn’t help someone unless they wanted help. The problem with that theory is that it left loved ones feeling as though their only choices were to abandon them or enable them.
Neither feels like a good choice. Now there is a third option, compassion. It doesn’t mean you enable the person to continue drinking or using drugs.
Five Ways You Can Provide Help for Addicts
Learning how to help a drug addict without taking yourself down with them is tricky. You must learn how to put boundaries in place. These five steps can help you take important steps to help both yourself and the person suffering from addiction:
1. See Them
Let your loved one know that you see and recognize their suffering. No one wants to feel as though they’re all alone. It makes things worse.
Many people who struggle with substance abuse issues were victims of abuse during their childhood. That abuse led them to feel ignored and invisible.
When we let someone know we recognize their pain, it helps them know they aren’t alone, even if we ourselves were not victims of abuse.
2. Hear Them
Since so many addicts were victims of abuse, they not only felt unseen but unheard as well. Just by the simple act of listening, we can allow the addict to finally be heard.
It’s a powerful, yet simple act to simply listen without commenting or judging the other person.
3. Confirm Their Suffering
Many abuse victims were never allowed to express their pain, hurt, fear, and sadness about what happened to them. It’s often what led them to abuse drugs and alcohol in the first place.
By validating their story, we help the addict to regain some of the power they lost when in the past they were denied, ignored, and invalidated.
4. Let Them Know You Care
Many people struggling with addiction feel alone and isolated. Letting someone know you care about them as a human and that you care about their suffering is powerful.
It shows them they are still respected and cared about, even if others in their life, especially during their childhood, couldn’t show these emotions.
5. Offer Comfort
When learning how to help a drug addict, it’s important to offer comfort. It doesn’t have to be something huge.
Just a simple touch, hug or even kind words can go a long way towards letting someone know you care about them. It helps to provide them with a higher sense of security that can help alleviate negative emotions.
Why Drug Addiction Help Is So Important To The Addict
It’s sometimes hard to know how to deal with an addict. They’re often unpredictable and they think you’re going to lecture or judge them.
However, providing support is exactly what they need. Even if the addict doesn’t yet realize it themselves. Often, an addict feels so unworthy of others love, affection, and care that they isolate themselves.
Providing support to them, even when they don’t feel they deserve it, helps in several ways.
There’s Strength in Numbers
Challenges are difficult when you’re facing them alone. They often feel and seem insurmountable. But when you have someone by your side, things seem easier and more manageable.
The more love and support someone receives, the more their confidence and self-esteem begins to grow. They suddenly realize that they are worth seeking treatment and that they can do it. The addict also knows someone else besides them cares about them being successful in their treatment plan.
Friends Help Reduce Anxiety
Friends and family help reduce anxiety, especially in social situations. Many people use drugs and/or alcohol to feel more comfortable in social situations but having a trusted confidante by their side helps reduce stress.
Having a personal cheering section is incredibly beneficial to anyone. Having people support you in that way makes you feel incredibly powerful. Feeling empowered can help an addict manage their way through a rough spot where they might otherwise feel they need to use in order to handle the issue.
Helps to Keep the Addict on Track
And friends and family can keep an addict in check. It’s easy to fall back into old habits which may not be healthy. Having someone nearby who can recognize the signs and help you back on track is incredibly powerful.
Also, by surrounding an addict with a positive support system, it helps them to develop healthier relationships. It’s important for an addict to stay away from old behaviors and relationships that lead them to drink or use drugs.
Often, having a support system is exactly what an addict needs to motivate them into taking positive action.
A Lifeline When Things Get Bad
It’s easier for an addict to stay on track when things are going well for them. But, there will be times when things don’t go well for them and they might get triggered.
Having access to a sponsor and loved ones they can trust helps an addict get and stay sober no matter how tough times get.
What You Can’t Do To Help An Addict
While you can provide drug addiction help by supporting and loving someone, you aren’t Superman. There are simply things you can’t do, no matter how hard you try.
You Can’t Get Them To Quit
You can beg, plead, bribe or threaten someone to try to get them to quit, but it won’t work. You can even physically bring them into a rehabilitation clinic but unless they’re willing to do the work themselves, nothing will change.
The best thing you can do for the addict, and for yourself, is to support them in a compassionate way. Then, find ways to change your own behaviors so you don’t end up enabling the addict.
Finding a way to support an addict while letting go, the healthier it is for you. Getting support for yourself by joining a self-help group like Al-Anon can help you find the strength you need to care for someone without letting them destroy you.
You Can’t Do The Work For Them
Yes, you want to know how to help an addict, but you can’t do the real work for them. It’s like dieting on behalf of someone else. It won’t work.
Instead, participate in their healing, but do so from a distance that’s safe for you. Getting too involved will only prevent them from getting help sooner and will destroy you in the process.
Put Up With Bad Behavior or Violations of Your Boundaries
The best thing you can do for yourself and the addict in your life is to put up healthy boundaries. While it may not seem easy, it’s the only way to help them and yourself get through this.
When the addict in your life violates your boundaries, there must be consequences. You must mean what you say and say what you mean. Without that, you have zero credibility.
When you set up boundaries, expect them to try to test them at first. The addict may end up getting angry with you. That’s okay. If you hold tight to your boundaries, the person struggling with addiction will eventually come to respect you and your boundaries.
How to Set Up Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries shouldn’t be too complicated. Stick to simple boundaries like insisting the addict stay clean and sober while in your home.
If the boundary is broken, don’t get angry or sad. Instead, calmly state that you have already stated what your boundaries are and that they have been broken. Then follow through with the consequence.
How To Build A Support Network
A support network doesn’t always have to be comprised of just friends and family. While friends and family do provide a great network, there are other types of support that are just as helpful.
Those who have had similar experiences and have been successful with their recovery are great resources. They understand the situation and can provide advice on how to tackle tough situations.
Professional support is also an essential part of recovery. Doctors and therapists can help ease the symptoms associated with weaning off of drugs and alcohol. They can also monitor the process to ensure the addict is safe and healthy.
And professional support is necessary for drug addiction help because they can teach the addict the tools and skills they need in order to get and stay sober.
When you’re helping an addict, it’s important to stay inspired and motivated. Helping someone when they’re sick and struggling isn’t easy.
The more you stay healthy and positive, the easier it is to provide support. Click here to read inspiring sobriety stories.