Helping friends and family overcome addiction
There are many personal consequences to having an addiction such as depression, anxiety and physical health problems. One of the other consequences that is often overlooked is the effect it has on the people around the addicted person who suffer indirectly from the addictive behaviour.
These problems can may include conflict, anger, resentment and stress – but also the pain of watching someone who you care about suffer can be a heartbreaking experience. In addition, even when they overcome addiction, mistrust and anger may continue to linger for some time as a result of a breakdown in relationship.
Learn to understand the reasons behind addictive behaviours
From an outsider’s perspective, many of an addicts actions may feel callous, cold, and hurtful. If you find yourself in a position where you want to help someone facing addictive behaviours, it is important to learn about how the body and mind change throughout the course of addiction so you are less likely to take their actions personally. Rather than wanting to hurt you directly, an addicted person simply struggles with strong cravings and is motivated solely by the benefits of their addiction, which is usually a euphoria or high.
Step 1 : Educate yourself
To really offer help to someone, you should try to educate yourself and gain an understanding of the problems they face. You may find it helpful to talk to someone with experience of addiction or use some of the numerous resources available on the internet for practical tips and advice.
Where possible, look out for information provided by local and official sources such as governmental health services as these are more likely to provide real advice that is impartial and relevant to you and your location.
Step 2: Set boundaries
The second step in supporting someone through addiction is setting boundaries. While this initially may seem insensitive, setting boundaries can minimise the hurt that you will experience from their addiction. It is possible to be supportive while also sticking to your own rules.
For example, you may tell your loved one that you are not willing to spend time with them when they are under the influence. You can convey this message while also letting them know that when they are ready for help, you will be there to support them.
It’s also important to engage in your own self-care when you are close to an addicted person. The stress of watching a family member or friend suffer can have significant effects on your physical and/or mental health. There are many different self-help groups available that offer education and support.
Hearing others’ stories can remind you that you are not alone and can help keep you grounded and focused. Bear in mind that you may have little to no control over your loved one’s addiction. The best that you can do is to implement structure to avoid your own hurt and remind yourself that you will be there for them when are ready to make positive changes.
What happens when someone doesn’t think they have a problem?
It is common for addicts to deny they have a problem. This can be a huge headache for everyone around them who can clearly see that there are behaviours that need to be addressed. There are many reasons why an addict will not accept the situation they face and this can create conflict between friends and families.
One option that can be used to deal with the denial is an intervention – a procedure that seeks to confront an addict by having close relatives and friends express feelings about the behaviours they see from that person with a view to them accepting that they need help. The primary goal of an intervention is to create acceptance and move forward into an appropriate treatment plan.
Interventions need to be handled with care, often requiring the assistance of a trained interventionist to direct the course of events. An intervention can in some cases extend for several day and must be managed carefully to avoid creating boundaries that can ultimately cause more harm than good by preventing the addict from accepting help.
Is someone you care about affected by addiction? Please leave a comment or contact Addiction Friend for independent advice and support.