Millions of people in the U.S. are living with an addiction, and while the reasons behind the substance abuse vary, it’s important to remember that there are just as many reasons for the individual to seek treatment. Not only are substances harmful to our physical and mental health, they can cause rifts in relationships, harm careers, and lead to devastating effects on just about every aspect of life. Yet trying to help a loved one who is struggling with addiction can be very tricky, and it can lead to stress for both of you if not done properly.
That’s why it’s so important to understand as much as possible about addiction and what your loved one is going through. Leave blame or guilt at the door and simply have a conversation; listen and let them know that you’re there for them, and make a point to talk to them when you know they haven’t recently abused a substance, as this will only lead to more problems.
Keep reading for some of the best tips on how to help a loved one who needs addiction treatment.
Do some research
It’s helpful to understand what your loved one is going through and to learn as much as you can about their addiction since every kind is different and they all affect the individual in different ways. Talk to an addiction counselor and do a little research to find out all you can about your loved one’s addiction, the warning signs of issues like depression or suicidal thoughts, and the dangers of living with a long-term addiction.
Choose the right moment
Timing is everything when it comes to talking to your loved one about their addiction. Choose a moment when you know they’re sober and refrain from using blame words. Instead, let them know that it’s hard for you to understand exactly what they’re going through, but that you are there to help them. Let them talk; even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, it’s important for your loved one to be able to have their feelings heard.
Sometimes it’s easy to confuse helping your loved one with enabling them. Many friends and family members fall victim to this confusion time and again, which leaves them feeling used, heartbroken, and exhausted. Keep in mind that you may be enabling your loved one if your actions don’t help them get better; this might include giving them money when you know they’re lying about why they need it, or covering for them when their addiction affects their behavior or performance at work or school.
Understand that there may be deeper issues
In many cases, a person falls prey to addiction because they are harboring much deeper issues, from depression to memories of childhood abuse that they can’t cope with. Sometimes, it’s necessary to treat not only the addiction itself, but also the catalyst behind it. Help your loved one find a counselor or support group so they may begin to heal and learn to cope in healthier ways. And be patient as they deal with the recovery process.
Helping a loved one who is in the throes of addiction is rarely easy; they have to want to get better, and sometimes it may seem like nothing you say or do will get them to a sober path. However, with a little research, some compassion, and the right timing, you can guide your friend or family member in the right direction and help them become clean and ready to live a new life.