Truly Helping a Drug Addict or Alcoholic
Helping, truly helping, a drug addict or an alcoholic is one of the hardest things in life to do. Any parent, spouse or friend of someone in active addiction can confirm that watching a person you deeply care about gamble with their life is emotionally, spiritually and physically challenging. The fact is that most of the time we, the people who love our addicts more than they love themselves, seem to have gone out of the way to help the individual struggling on several occasions and have been filled with a renewed sense of hope. This hope was soon crushed as the behaviors of our loved ones continued to remain the same and the eventual relapse soon arrived on the horizon. After numerous attempts of this repeated cycle many are left wondering what are the best ways to help an addict get clean and sober?
1. Understand Addiction
It is best to understand what addiction is and that your loved one is struggling with a problem much stronger than something they can overcome on their own. Quite often friends and family members are hurt or angry with a drug addict or alcoholic that they love when they are unable to stay clean and sober. You should understand that a relapse has nothing to do with them not caring enough about you or that drugs and alcohol is more important to them than you are. Once you have a better understanding of what addiction is you will be much more effective in helping a drug addict or an alcoholic become willing to get help, and hopefully commit to going to a drug addiction treatment center.
2. Talk to the Addict
Being a close friend or family member of an addict you should not hide the fact that you know the addict is using drugs again. Often loved ones are uneasy about how to approach an addict who is on drugs and if they should confront them on their illicit drug use. Due to the deaths rates in the United States and the number of daily over doses due to heroin and other illicit drugs not speaking to your loved one regarding their drug use is one of the worst things you can do. Speaking to them in a calm and genuine manner about how you feel and that you want to support them getting better is the best way to help an addict feel not attacked during these discussions. Drug addicts already have a lot of guilt, shame and denial about their drug use and may use these talks as an opportunity to get defensive so it is important as the person of influence to stay on target in the discussion. The goal is to not let anger cloud your judgment and to speak with love and empathy. You can advise him or her that you will do anything you can to help them get well, but you will not support negative behaviors which lead to more use. Some common examples of negative behaviors are: giving an active drug user money, providing a place to stay, hiding things from your spouse, going against your boundaries, etc.
3. Get Support for Yourself
One of the best ways to help an addict is to also get healthier yourself. There are numerous support groups for spouses, children of alcoholics and family members of addicts all over the country that provide a network of support to help deal with the pain and obstacles that addiction brings on. When speaking to your loved one about supporting them getting well, you are really asking them to get help for their drug addiction. An addict will most likely be unable to get clean and sober without some form of outside help from agencies such as medical professionals, a drug addiction treatment center or a support group of their own.
The best way to help an addict is to do everything you can to regain control of the situation and to not delay. Addiction is progressive and will only get worse over time. The drugs being consumed today are much stronger than they were in the decades before, and the drug users are getting addicted much younger and much faster. Do everything you can to seek professional help from a drug addiction treatment center or qualified professional to get the help your loved one needs.