Addiction is a disease that destroys one's body, influences one's choices and breaks apart family and friends. However, after an addict seeks help, they will need the help and support of their loved ones to continue down their path to recovery. However, because it is not only a difficult situation, but because some past issues may still need to be dealt with, it can be hard for family and friends to be there.
Here are some tips on how friends and families of addicts can help and support without alienating the recovering addict in their life.
Take Time to Understand Addiction
It's important that those trying to help a loved one understand the addiction process. Whether one has past experiences because of their own addictions or seeks help from a professional who can explain the process, knowing the ins and outs of addiction is important.
Set Limits & Boundaries
By setting limits and boundaries, you are showing the addict in your life that there are consequences for their actions. For example, tell a friend that you cannot be around them or spend time with them if they are drunk or high. While you believe this is just hurting their feelings, they will recognize that they are hurting themselves not only because they are taking drugs, but because they are affecting others in their life.
Informal Substance Abuse Intervention
Known as an informal intervention, confronting a loved one about getting help can be difficult. Practice the conversation you will have well before the confrontation as you will most likely be nervous and emotional during the experience.
It's important that as someone who is seeking to help someone, they cannot do so if they are not ready to change. Don't blame yourself if your attempts at helping don't work. You can do nothing but offer assistance to get help, you cannot force an addict to do so unless they are breaking other laws that may call for an involuntary trip to a rehab center.
However, do not continue to pester someone who isn't willing to get clean. Also, don't give up hope though that they will eventually listen and decide to begin a recovery process. It's just important they know that help is available for them and you will support them during the experience when they are ready.
Professional Substance Abuse Intervention
You've tried to confront someone to no avail. They are destructing others' along with thier property and most importantly, themselves. It's time for a formal intervention. As mentioned before, an addict will only decide to make a change when they are ready. However, if you feel that your loved one may be at this point, then it's time to hold a formal intervention. Gather all the loved ones who want the addict to know they are there for them and who want to speak out to them. Don't create a hostile environment, but one that is pleasant, calm and loving. State that you love them and want them to live as long as possible in a healthy way. Include all the things they do that hurt you, or make you feel certain things. Being as honest as possible is the only way to hold a proper intervention.
For many family members and friends, this is the hardest part of the process. However, practicing detachment is important for their mental health. You must separate yourself emotionally from the damage and negative effects of the addict to you, yourself and your life. You're not abandoning them, but you're caring for yourself, so you no longer feel responsible for their actions. This is the healthiest decision a family member can make as it allows them to clear their head and provide the best support possible for their loved one.
All of these things are just suggestions and ideas for how to support an addict in your life. Taking close care to show your love to the addict in your life can help guide them to a path of sober living in the future. Good luck!