I’ve seen a lot of struggles in my time. You can read about a lot of those in my 41 Lessons in Life book. Among those struggles that I’ve witnessed, few are quite as crippling as an ongoing battle with addiction.
When you love someone addicted to drugs and alcohol, it’s easy to feel conflicted. You love the person with all your heart, but their addiction can be incredibly difficult to cope with. They’re feeling lost, and so are you. Here are a few things to do if a loved one is addicted and needs help.
Discuss options with them
There are multiple treatment options available for addiction. There’s therapy, inpatient and outpatient rehab, and medications. Discuss each of these with your loved one. For the most effective treatment, you should look into using a combination of approaches.
None of these options are shortcuts to sobriety. They need to be serious about their recovery if they want to have any success. You also need to be serious regarding offering support. This means avoiding any enabling or downplaying of their addiction. Your loved one needs to admit that they need help, and you need to be there for them.
Never be judgmental or thoughtless
You shouldn’t be expected to support your loved one’s addiction, but you should help them anyway. There are times when it’s going to be very difficult for them, and this is when they need you to show you love them. If you have to offer any criticism, make sure you do it constructively. You can set ground rules, such as what you won’t tolerate, but you should never turn it into trying to act superior.
Lift them up
Going through an addiction can be a low point in a loved one’s life, but you can make their recovery a high point. They might become despondent, feeling like they’re not making any progress.
Sometimes, a battle with addiction can resemble a mental illness. As The Recovery Village points out, “some of signs that look like alcoholism could also be red flags for a mental or physical illness. Encourage your loved one to be evaluated by a physician or therapist.” You can lift their spirits by talking about how well they’ve been doing.
Give them specific compliments, such as how much more focused and happy they’ve seemed. Some distraction can also do them good. Find activities that the two of you can enjoy together, such as going for a hike or playing games. Your loved one is more than their addiction, and they deserve to have healthy fun.
Try to find the root of their problem
Addiction is a disease that can’t be easily explained. It’s about more than these substances being addictive. Some people have brains that are more prone to addiction. There can also be childhood trauma and hereditary reasons. According to the Cambridge Health Alliance, “many people engage in potentially addictive activities to escape discomfort — both physical and emotional.”
None of these explanations are meant to condone substance abuse. Instead, they should give you a better idea of how addiction happens. Some signs that look like alcoholism could also be red flags for a mental or physical illness. When your loved one can understand how their addiction started, they can have a better sense of their mind and the decisions they make.
It takes strength to love anyone, especially someone who is going through addiction. If the two of you are committed to each other and to solving this problem, you can come out stronger. Take time to understand one another and the nature of addiction. It will be a challenge, but it will be worth it.