Do You Know Where Your Addict Is?
Our friends and loved ones are a huge part of our lives. They provide support and companionship during good times and bad. What happens, though, when a loved one becomes addicted to drugs and you fear you are losing them? You invariably want to help them get over the hard times so that life can resume and you can share more great times. This post is about how we can provide the most help possible to an addicted loved one that you feel you are losing. Here are 5 ways (plus one!) to help:
- Recognize the signs. Drug addiction is a slippery problem to recognize and diagnose, particularly for friends. You don’t want to see them as addicts. Society has told us that addiction is a moral failing. However, if you notice that someone is slipping into a negative spiral, be alert to the problem. If they’ve lost a job or are showing behaviors that are out of character, pay attention and look for patterns. Don’t deny what you see. If you notice an addictive pattern, ask about it. If they are overly sensitive and react with anger, you may be onto something. Explain that you’ve noticed a change in their behavior and provide details. This may further anger them, but please be fearless. When they realize that their secret is out, it will be harder to deny later.
- Talk to their family. If you are close, you might be able to contact their spouse or family of origin. Tell them what you’ve witnessed and talk about it. They may be in denial, but if not they can be a great help in this matter. When you reach out to their family, you form a solid support network that can be invaluable.
- Take care of yourself. If their addiction is causing you distress, seek out an Al-Anon meeting. There, you will meet people who can give you support based on common experience. They will help you find the strength you need to help your friend. Plus, Al-Anon meetings are great places to find the resources your friend will need if they are to find sobriety.
- Don’t use with them. Sometimes those who drink decide that they need more and more alcohol to cope. When we drink with them, they often use that as justification for their addictive drinking. Instead of drinking with them, steer your interactions towards healthy, non-drinking activities. If you do drink with them, only have one drink and then call it a night. Try to model reasonable use. When they are unable to follow suit, the difference will be obvious to them.
- You can’t heal them. Often, we hope that we can somehow fix someone else’s addiction. This, sadly, is impossible. The addict must be willing to help themselves and then take the steps necessary to achieve sobriety. What you can do is show them that you care about them, but that you will not tolerate their substance abuse.
- Bonus Tip! If the situation seems dire, and the addiction is intractable, seek professional help. Discuss the issue with a counselor who specializes in interventions. You might find allies in your loved one’s family to join you. From that point, you can arrange an intervention and present your friend with the chance to come clean, get clean, and find a lasting sobriety.
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