There is not a straightforward process for helping a friend or relative overcome addiction. Addiction often causes strains in relationships that make it difficult for someone to support their loved one through the addiction and recovery process.
This guide will walk you through the process of supporting a loved one through addiction and finding the right resources for addiction help.
- Research About Drug Addiction
- Establish a Foundation of Trust
- Initiate the Conversion
- Expect Bumps In the Road
- Encourage Them Towards Getting Help
- Be A Support Throughout Recovery
- Look After Your Needs and Safety
- Join A Support Group
- Respect Privacy and Treatment Choice
- In Case of an Emergency
With the right steps in place for empathizing and managing expectations for recovery, you can find new avenues to continue to support the loved one you care about.
Step 1. Research About Drug Addiction
There are many misconceptions about drug addiction that are not true for someone experiencing it. Understanding and knowing what to look for when it comes to drug use is an important aspect for assessing whether or not a friend, or relative, is experiencing long-term issues with addiction.
Addiction is simply not a choice. It is a complex disorder that negatively affects relationships, daily functionality, and has psychological and physical consequences. Without early intervention, addictions can turn severe, which often puts a strain on relationships and leads to a person spiraling deeper without the support of those they care about.
By researching how drug addiction affects a person, you can learn how to break stigmas about addiction and approach your loved one with knowledge and empathy. If you are uncertain about how to find the right information about drug addiction, contact a local treatment center and ask for resources and guidelines to learn more.
Step 2. Establish a Foundation of Trust
Trust goes both ways for any relationship, but especially when it comes to a loved one experiencing addiction. If an addicted person feels betrayed, it can often be very difficult to earn their trust back.
To establish a foundation of trust, avoid behaviors that may be triggering, criticizing, or accusatory. Engaging in addictive behaviors alongside them also will negatively hinder trust as the person may view it as contradictory behavior. Even if you become stressed or agonized in a conversation with them, learn to choose a calmer route to communicate your point.
It is important to see how stress or the need for control deepens the gap of not understanding one another. Stress often leads to even more addictive behaviors as well. If you, or your loved one become stressed in a conversation, take a step back to assess what the difference in perspective may be in the moment.
By understanding how a loved one reacts, it gives a higher chance for a conversation that makes a positive impact on their choice in recovery. While you cannot protect them from all consequences of addictive behavior, keep in mind when to intervene when it may cause serious harm to them or others.
Step 3. Initiate the Conversion
If early intervention is possible, it gives greater opportunity for effective solutions in addiction help. In some cases, addiction may have been started by a traumatic event or a loss. In initiating the conversation early about how to support and connect them to professional resources, they have a better chance for long-term recovery.
If you are waiting for your loved one to ask for help, it may not be the best option for their health moving forward. Chances are they may be embarrassed in asking for help, which can lead to issues that result in loss of employment, strained relationships, and potentially even death.
For partners of those with drug addiction, it can be even harder to initiative the conversation as behaviors become normalized within a relationship. Look out for signs of headaches, pain issues, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, or panic attacks, as these may be early signs that may lead or contribute to substance or alcohol abuse.
If you are unsure of how to approach a loved one about their addiction, seek professional counseling help and contact a treatment center that can provide guidance for how to start the conversation.
Step 4. Expect Bumps In the Road
Drug or alcohol addiction recovery will not be a smooth road ahead, even after initiating a conversation about concerns. Your friend or relative may not agree with you that their addiction is a problem, or may feel too embarrassed or awkward to talk about it with you.
Expect that there will be bumps and uncertainties in the conversation that make it difficult to communicate effectively. Trying to persuade them or convince them to radically change their behaviors is more than likely not going to work. However, there are evidence-based treatment options that can assist in behavior changes.
Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) is one initiative that is evidence-based for helping families find help for relatives that are suffering from addiction. Instead of following traditional methods, CRAFT ensures resources are in place for loved ones to receive and value professional help towards recovery.
Step 5. Encourage Them Towards Getting Help
Keep in mind that you cannot convince someone immediately to get help. It often takes time and establishment of trust in order to encourage them towards professional help.
Addiction is not something that should be shamed or criticized. Instead it should be brought up in a safe space where you both can talk through concerns and acknowledge behaviors that may exacerbate or put strain on the relationship.
Do not try to encourage help when they are under the influence, nor should you bring it up if you are under the same influence as them. If you are concerned about a violent reaction after encouraging help, consider contacting a helpline or emergency services to ensure you are keeping yourself and them as safe as possible.
Encouraging a loved one to seek help does not always involve intensive care. There are a variety of treatment options available that include inpatient and outpatient care, partial hospitalization, support groups, or help through a licensed drug counselor.
Step 6. Be A Support Throughout Recovery
To be a support throughout recovery is not always an easy responsibility, but it is possible with the right boundaries in place. When seeking support for your loved one, look at an addiction help app that may be suitable to their specific addiction help needs.
An addiction app serves as a safe space for them to connect with others who have experienced the same or similar experiences. Addiction apps also have the ability to set up contact numbers and accountability methods that you can support.
As a support in their recovery journey through an app, you can cultivate a safe space that may not be as direct or intimidating as it may feel in person. By letting your friend or relative know you are there as a support, it gives them more avenues and encouragement to stay on the path towards long-term recovery.
Step 7. Look After Your Needs and Safety
Setting boundaries for yourself should be a priority when trying to help someone with addictive behaviors. Protect your wellbeing by protecting your home, relationships, and finances first before offering other means of support to a friend or relative who is experiencing addiction.
If you are unsure about how to protect your own boundaries, search for a “treatment center near me” for further resources that can help you establish healthy limits. If you are concerned about their addiction worsening or causing harm, contact help immediately.
Step 8. Join A Support Group
While there are support groups for those in recovery, there are also support groups for those with loved ones who are experiencing addiction. Al-Anon or Naranon are more common support groups to join, but you can also download an addiction help app. Within the app you can access resources and connections to those who are looking how to support a sober life.
Step 9. Respect Privacy and Treatment Choice
If your loved one declines to discuss what happens in therapy sessions or in an addiction center treatment program, it is important not to push the subject further out of curiosity or control. Most of all, addiction treatment is a long-term process and there will not be results overnight after one conversation or looking for a “treatment center near me” for them to potentially go to. At the end of the day, the choice is theirs to make about seeking help and overcoming addiction.
Step 10. In Case of an Emergency
If you are worried about your loved one harming themselves or others, seek immediate help. If symptoms of an overdose occur or the potential of an overdose occur, contact emergency services. After admittance, they may be transferred to a drug and alcohol addiction recovery center.