Where do you start?
We believe that addiction not only affects the individual, but it also affects the family and the community. Families are often left searching for ways in which they can help their loved ones or even help themselves cope with someone else's addiction. In order for someone to cope with an addiction of their own or of someone else, it is imperative that they understand the complexity and nature of addiction. Education is always important regarding addiction as well as understanding what treatment options are available and the most appropriate options for that individual. With this knowledge, they are better able to support someone else trying to achieve recovery and support themselves.
How to help:
*Educate yourself about addiction: It is imperative that if you want to help someone who is struggling with addiction that you educate yourself on the basics of addiction and also the substances they are using. Once a person becomes addicted to a substance, their brain chemisty changes which changes their behaviors and emotions.
*Offer support but do not enable: This is a crucial component in trying to support someone who is struggling with an addiction. This can sometimes be one of the most difficult aspects in supporting an individual in the healthiest way possible. Enabling comes in many different forms including allowing negative behaviors/actions or giving an individual money. Finding ways to support an individual without enabling them can be challenging but it is necessary in process of recovery. Setting realistic boundaries and maintaining them will help you in the process of no longer enabling.
*To help them, you must also help yourself: It may not seem this way, but in order to effectively help someone struggling with addiction, it is important that you also help yourself. Addiction affects relationships with others in numerous ways and can be emotionally draining on the individual and those trying to support them. Sometimes we can find ourselves wanting them to feel the way they make us feel (hurt, scared, angry).
More often than not, this leads to more negative feelings and destructive behavior and can only complicate the relationship more. Taking care of yourself and seeking out support when needed - will help you to continue to support and encourage them in a healthy manner.
*Look what treatment options are available to them: Whether it may be self-help meetings, outpatient counseling, or inpatient treatment - it always helps to research the options that are available to the individual. An individual can feel exhausted and overwhelmed when they start to think about change and these feelings can sometimes return them to their drug/alcohol use. If they are able to know what options and resources are readily available - there is a greater chance they will pursue them.
*Continue to encourage and support: Once an individual does decide to seek help for their addiction, it is crucial that they continue to receive encouragement and support for pursuing their recovery. It can be a challenging process for someone struggling with addiction to achieve sobriety and understanding that relapse may be a part of that process. Support can be provided through family, friends, professional help, community members, self-help meetings, and faith-based members.