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Helping a loved one with an addiction problem1 is one of the hardest things to do. When you do not have the correct information or are going through the same thing yourself, it can be really tough. Battling addiction is like battling a life-threatening disease2, you need constant vigilance, patience, and a tremendous amount of support. The good news is that there are many ways you can help people you care about who are recovering from addiction on an emotional, spiritual, and practical level.
Here are four ways to help loved ones who are struggling with addiction:
Be a Good Listener
If you are a friend or family member of someone who is struggling with addiction, you must be a good listener. This includes not passing judgment on them and listening without bias. Asking questions is also essential, and it is a crucial step in gaining insight into how to treat your loved one’s addiction, as it opens the minds of those affected. Instead of asking what they did over break, inquire about their day or what they missed out on.
Recognize That Addiction Is a ‘Disease’
Addiction is a medical condition, and it is not a choice, a moral failing, a weakness, or a character flaw. Addiction is caused by the brain’s inability to regulate its reward system, not by a lack of willpower or personal failure. The good news is that you can help your loved one recover by explaining this key point:
Addiction is a ‘disease’ caused by a lack of regulation in the brain’s reward system, which manifests as cravings for substances such as alcohol or drugs. For someone with an addiction problem to recover, they need support from people around them who do not judge but instead listen to them. This way, the addict can start recovering naturally without relying on medications prescribed by doctors.
Encourage your loved ones to seek help if they are ready. Numerous resources are available in the places like Florida, New York, and New Jersey, among others, and on the internet to assist people suffering from addiction. Finding a doctor or therapist who specializes in treating addiction disorders or an organization that provides a kind of substance abuse intervention service in your city is an important step. If necessary, a counselor will be able to recommend additional services such as group therapy or medical detoxification programs3. A counselor can help your loved one through this process by providing emotional support during treatment sessions and guiding them through relapse prevention strategies.
Be Honest and Do Not Pass Judgment
It is important, to be honest, and open about your feelings when speaking with someone with an addiction problem. If you, too, have struggled with this issue, you should not feel ashamed or mix words. If you feel judgmental, it is time to take a step back. You cannot help someone if you are judging them.
The person with addiction problems is not trying to be bad; they simply do not know how else to deal with their feelings and emotions, and that is okay. They may believe they require an escape from reality. Still, they truly require support and understanding from someone who cares enough about them to listen without passing judgment on their actions or character flaws, even if those actions seem ‘crazy.’ Remember, you are the most important person in the life of your loved one.
You may become resentful and angry with them for failing to do what is best for themselves or everyone else. When you begin to feel this way, it is a good idea to join a support group or take a break to exercise or do something else. Support groups provide a safe place to express yourself and learn about the various addiction treatment options. Participating in a support group may allow you to talk about things that have long been difficult for you, such as loving someone with an addiction problem, which is important not only for them but also for yourself.
Always remember to be a good listener. Because they are embarrassed or ashamed, the person you care about may be unable to express themselves freely. In that case, simply let them know you are there for them, and keep reminding them how important it is to share with someone who is as concerned about their health and well-being as much as they are. Remember that recovery is a process that requires time and patience4. Make sure to take care of yourself to support your loved one.
- Shaffer, Howard J., Matthew N. Hall, and Joni Vander Bilt. ““Computer addiction”: a critical consideration.” American journal of Orthopsychiatry 70.2 (2000): 162-168. ↩︎
- Canbay, Ali, et al. “Acute liver failure: a life-threatening disease.” Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 108.42 (2011): 714. ↩︎
- Hayashida, Motoi. “An overview of outpatient and inpatient detoxification.” Alcohol health and research world 22.1 (1998): 44. ↩︎
- Roberts, Jennifer L. “The power of patience.” Harvard Magazine 116.2 (2013): 40-43. ↩︎
Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Namita Soren