If you are the family member or friend of a drug or alcohol addict, you have a very difficult job.
You must be supportive of your loved one while at the same time curbing your impulses to say or do things that may not be helpful. How do you know what to say or do to be supportive?
Here are some guidelines for friends and families of addicts that will help them encourage their loved ones to get the drug addiction treatment they need and stay off the substances that are hurting them.
Understand that the addict thinks differently. It may seem logical to you for addicts to seek treatment, but that does not mean that the addict will comply. Addiction is a complex set of behaviors and is often spurred by mental issues.
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Your loved one did not ask to be an addict, and may not understand why he or she keeps using. Judgmental attitudes are not productive and may alienate you from the very person you want to help. Instead, remind yourself that the person you are supporting does not think in the same way as you and that these differences are not personal but based on chemical imbalances and other problems.
Be prepared for a lifelong battle. Addicts do not suddenly “recover.” Recovery for an addict is a lifelong process and must be maintained day-by-day. If you commit to help your loved one recover, remember that you are committing for life, not for the next six months. Taking a long-term view will help you be prepared for the work you will need to do in the future.
You cannot force a loved one to recover. However, you can and should offer encouragement and talk with them about treatment options. Even if the addict does not seem to care, the fact that you are willing to become educated about treatment shows him or her that you are supportive and will be someone to turn to when the addict finally admits his or her problem.
Expect denial, fear, and anger. The first step in fighting addiction is admitting that you have a problem. For many addicts, this is also the hardest step. It is easy to believe you have control over your behavior when it is clear to family and friends that you do not.
If your loved one is in denial, do not argue. Instead, seek advice and counseling for yourself to learn ways to cope with this denial and encourage the loved one to seek treatment.
Take care of yourself. While you want to help your addicted loved one, no one benefits if you harm your own health through stress and worry. Take the time to seek relaxing and healthful activities for your own peace of mind. Be sure you eat a balanced diet and refrain from alcohol and other drugs.
Keeping yourself healthy is the best thing you can do to support your addicted loved one. If necessary, seek counseling for yourself to help you cope with the stress of dealing with an addict, and if your loved one’s treatment program offers family or friend participation, become a part of the process.
Surviving addiction withdrawal and treatment is one of the most difficult things a person can ever do. Addicts need the loving support of families and friends, even though it is hard for loved ones. Be the best friend you can be and support your loved one through this difficult time.
Tags: drug addiction treatment