Supporting someone with an addiction can change your life and theirs permanently, and for the better. Being dependable emotional support for an addict won’t be easy, but you can do it.
Knowing how to help someone with an addiction is powerful, and you can help them weather the storm of their addiction. You can even help them take their lives back when they’re ready.
However, there are some pitfalls you’ll need to avoid. You’ll also have to change your attitude towards addiction in general so you don’t isolate the person you’re trying to help.
So read this guide carefully, and follow these tips to help someone with an addiction.
1. Accept Them and the Reality of Their Struggle
If you’re reading this, it is almost certain that you are aware that someone you love is struggling with an addiction.
An important part of coping with this is making sure that you accept this fact as reality. Don’t deny your own feelings of sadness or worry. Let them know how you feel, and that you’re worried about their safety.
A great way to learn how to help someone on drugs is by practicing radical acceptance. You can read more here about radical acceptance how it helps addicts and the people supporting them.
2. Have Realistic Expectations
If someone is addicted to drugs, their life probably isn’t going well. In this scenario, it probably means that they aren’t going to stop doing drugs because you found out.
In fact, even if they were afraid of other people finding out, they’d still have the chemical addiction to deal with.
You also have to grapple with the fact that they aren’t going to stop anytime soon. They may continue for months, or even years.
You should try your best to be there for them when you can, and encourage them to take less of whatever they’re on when you can.
3. Remember Who They Are
Depending on the substance they’re addicted to, there will be stark differences in their behaviors.
They might ask for money to sustain their habit, or they could even start stealing to keep up their habit. They could also have sudden mood swings and bouts of irritability.
This will not be easy to put up with. However, you should keep in mind that it’s not them that’s making them act this way, but the drugs.
If they’re in a late enough stage of addiction, they may start going through withdrawal. Become familiar with what withdrawal looks like.
Once you’ve learned the signs and symptoms of withdrawal, you’ll be better equipped to take care of them while they experience it.
Remember that withdrawal is very painful, and that you need to compassionate and patient while you take care of them.
4. Draw a Line on What Is Acceptable
As we mentioned earlier, someone addicted to drugs may start doing things you don’t like.
Although you should be as supportive as possible, it’s important to not let yourself become a doormat.
5. Do Not Enable Their Addiction
Taking care of someone with an addiction is different from enabling their addiction.
To help a drug addict, you need to focus on eventually getting them off of drugs at some point. So remember these key tips, but also use your judgment. If their life or freedom is at stake, you may need to bend the rules a little.
Don’t buy drugs for them.
Doing so will create a financial dependence you will not be able to sustain.
Don’t lie on their behalf
Lying to cover up their actions will protect them from consequences, and also puts you at risk.
Don’t prioritize their needs ahead of your own
If you self-destruct, you won’t be able to help them at all.
Don’t resent the addict
By resenting someone addicted to drugs, you run the risk isolating them and making them feel down. This could cause them to rely on their substance even more than before. Be honest and open about your feelings to prevent this.
6. Don’t Judge, Help Them Recover
Addicts are very aware of the stigma society puts on them. For example, if you want to know how to help an alcoholic, you can start by never joking about it, or making fun of them for it.
If you see them drinking, know that they have a disease and don’t give in to judgments about their character. This goes for all addicts.
When they are ready to get help, do what you can to support them. Drive them to their clinics or group therapy sessions.
talk to them about the progress they’re making, and congratulate them for any milestones they’ve achieved.
7. Help Someone With an Addiction By Keeping Them Away From Triggers
Help for drug addiction starts at the mental level. Some experiences, events, places, and even people can cause a drug addict to want to do drugs to cope.
When they’re comfortable, talk to the person addicted to drugs and learn what their triggers are. Once you know their triggers, you can help them avoid them.
If some triggers are unavoidable, stay with your friend and let them know you’re there for them so they’ll be less inclined to do drugs.
8. Always Be Ready With Professional Help
Once your friend is ready to do away with their addiction, make sure you have the contact information to a clinic or therapist on hand.
If you don’t know where to look, you can find a clinic near you here.
9. Practice Self-Care
Never overlook the importance of maintaining your own mental health. Helping someone who has an addiction can be draining, and you need to be able to recover your emotional energy at the end of every day.
Also, make sure you don’t try to help them overcome their habit by yourself. Make sure you talk to other willing friends or family members about supporting your friend together.
You Don’t Have To Lose Someone to Addiction
Addiction is one of the most crippling diseases out there. But it can be overcome. By choosing to be supportive of someone struggling with addiction, you’ve already paved part of the road to their recovery.
Having a dependable support system goes far in the way of treating addiction. Just remember not to blame yourself in the event of a relapse or any mishap. The ultimate culprit will always be the addiction.
To understand more about how to help someone with an addiction, check out our blog.