You can definitely be a lifesaver and help someone struggling with addiction.
January might officially be Get a Balanced Life Month, but you can balance your life every month with the right priorities, tools, and tips.
One way to balance your life is to make a difference to someone close to you who needs treatment for an addiction. Certain things you do could make your loved one’s life easier, and strengthen the benefits of professional treatment.
How to Help Someone With an Addiction
1. Educate Yourself
First, dispel any misconceptions you may have about addiction by educating yourself on the subject. Learn why and how addiction happens, some of its common root causes, triggers, and treatment options.
That is to say, the more you know about drug or alcohol addiction, the better you will be able to help your loved one. Learning about the chemical effects drugs can have on the brain and body, for example, can help you recognize the importance of medical-assisted detoxification.
A simple Google search can teach you a lot about addiction, as long you rely on reputable sources.
You can also call (855) 869-7132 to talk to a specialist in Arizona about addiction and treatment options. Consultations with specialists at Continuum Recovery Center are always free and completely confidential.
Conducting research on addictions can give you the fuel you need to convince your loved one to seek help. It can also help you take the best approach to assistance during and after treatment.
2. Identify The Signs Of Addiction
If someone you know needs treatment, but he or she is not aware of the problem, you can make an enormous difference by broaching the subject.
This is not an easy thing to do, and could hurt your relationship with the person – at least temporarily. However, it could change the individual’s life forever.
If you notice signs of a drug or alcohol use disorder, talk with other family members about your suspicions. Then, seek help from a professional or speak directly to your loved one.
Signs of addiction may include:
- Obsessive thoughts or behaviors
- Loss of control over drug or alcohol use
- Denial or hiding the substance abuse
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Poor personal hygiene
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
Your loved one could be experiencing an overdose if you notice difficulty breathing, nausea, hallucinations, seizures, or loss of consciousness. Call 911 right away if you suspect an overdose.
Otherwise, talk to your loved one about his or her addiction. Express that you are speaking from a place of love and concern, and that you are willing to help him or her get help.
3. Locate Resources
Many people who struggle with addiction do not have the means or mental clarity to seek resources on their own. Thus, they may be in denial of their addiction or reluctant to look for professional help.
You can help by gathering a list of local resources for your friend or family member. Research detox and rehabilitation programs near you, such as those at Continuum Recovery Center.
Use our overview of addiction resources to help your loved one understand his or her options for treatment.
4. Show You Care
A friend or relative struggling with addiction is in a low place in life. He or she might feel ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed. Your loved one needs your support now more than ever.
Express how much you care about the person and that you’re willing to help. You might assume he or she knows, but hearing it from you can mean a lot during this difficult time.
A reminder that people care can be the push the individual needs to decide to seek help. Showing that you care can help your loved one stick with treatment programs, even when it’s hard.
5. Offer Rides To Support Groups
The inability to find transportation to attend meetings could get in the way of someone’s addiction recovery.
If your loved one does not have a vehicle, or cannot drive because of a DUI, offer to give him or her rides. This can eliminate a potential obstacle to treatment, as well as ensure that your friend or relative is actually going to meetings.
If you cannot offer rides, help the individual find someone who can drive, or provide alternative transportation such as paying for an Uber/Lyft or a bus pass.
6. Learn The Difference Between Helping And Enabling
If the person is already sober and in treatment, the things you do now are most likely helping the person rather than enabling.
Learning the difference, however, can be important to your loved one’s overall recovery.
Enabling refers to giving someone the means to continue an addiction. You might be an enabler if your loved one has yet to seek treatment, but you provide things like money, food, or housing while he or she struggles with addiction. You might feel like you’re helping, but in reality you are making it possible for the person to continue an addiction without experiencing the consequences.
If you think you might be an enabler, contact an interventionist for assistance.
A professional can sit down with your family and your loved one and help you figure out how best to help – in ways that do not enable addictive behaviors. It can be difficult to host an intervention without help from someone with experience.
Enabling simply means you want to help your loved one, but do not know how. A professional can give you ways you can actually help, such as attending family therapy.
7. Attend Family Therapy
Family addiction treatment therapy is an option at many recovery centers.
Family therapy seeks to address the underlying or root cause of the addiction, as well as to help everyone move on from traumatic experiences or arguments. In addition, family therapy also involves the person with the addiction.
It offers a safe space for everyone to express their feelings and try to overcome them together. Family therapy can help loved ones understand a person’s triggers and warning signs – ultimately creating a strong support system where the individual can feel safe post-treatment.
8. Attend A Support Group For Families
Aside from attending family therapy sessions, you can learn better ways to help (as well as to cope with your own feelings) at an anonymous family group meeting.
Friends and relatives of people with addictions can attend meetings with others going through similar hardships. Look for a group near you. Attend meetings as often as you wish to learn better ways to cope with your loved one’s situation, as well as to learn ways you can help.
If your loved one’s destructive addiction has impacted your life, a family support group can give you better peace of mind.
9. Provide A Healthy Distraction
While your loved one is in recovery, do your best to stay positive.
Avoid bringing up your own stresses and struggles outside of a family therapy environment, as this could put a mental toll on the person.
Help distract your friend or relative from his or her addiction whenever possible. Find fun things to do that do not involve drinking or doing drugs.
Show your loved one that sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Avoid going to places or being around people that could lead to temptation.
Encourage your loved one to talk openly with you about substance cravings and how he or she is feeling. Most of all, be there for your loved one in this time of need.