How to Help Loved Ones Deal with Addiction

Oftentimes people who have a loved one or relative struggling with an addiction often don’t know how to help them. The decision to try and get help for someone you care about who has an addiction or substance abuse problem is never easy. Fortunately, with your support, they have a greater chance of overcoming their addiction. Each situation is unique, but here are some general guidelines that will help you approach this task.

Expect Some Challenges
There are many reasons that helping someone you care about with their addiction can be difficult:

  • They may not agree they have a problem.
  • If they DO know they have a problem, they may not want to change what they are doing.
  • They may fear consequences e.g., losing their job, going to prison.
  • They may feel embarrassed, and not want to discuss it with you.
  • They may feel awkward about discussing personal issues with a professional.
  • They may be engaging in the addiction as a way to avoid dealing with another problem that bothers them more.

There is no fast and easy way help someone suffering from addiction. Overcoming an addiction or substance abuse problem requires great sacrifice and dedication, so if they do not want to change what they are doing, trying to persuade them to get help is unlikely to work. However, you can take steps that will help your loved one to make changes over the long term, and these steps can also help you cope with a loved one with an addiction.

Step 1: Establish and Maintain Trust
Avoid the following trust-destroyers:

  • Nagging, criticizing and lecturing the addicted person.
  • Yelling, name calling and exaggerating (even when you are stressed out yourself).
  • Engaging in addictive behaviors yourself, even in moderation (they will think you are a hypocrite).

Step 2: Get Help for Yourself First
Being in a relationship with a person who has an addiction is often stressful. Accepting that you are going through stress and need help managing it is an important step in helping your loved one, as well as yourself.

Step 3: Communicate
Although you may feel tempted to let your loved one know that their addiction is a problem and that they need to change, the decision to change is theirs. They are much more likely to be open to thinking about change if you communicate honestly but in a way that does not threaten your loved one.

Step 4: The Treatment Process
The treatment process will vary according to the kind of treatment your friend or relative needs.

If you are involved in your loved one’s treatment:

  • Remember to keep working on establishing trust. Re-read Step 1 before going to counseling with your loved one.
  • Be honest about your feelings, what you want to happen, and what the addiction has been like for you.
  • Do not blame, criticize or humiliate your loved one in counseling. Simply say what it has been like for you.
  • Do not be surprised if your loved one says that things you are doing are contributing to their addiction. Try to listen with an open mind.
  • If you want them to change, you will probably have to change too, even if you don’t have an addiction. If you show you are willing to try, your loved one will be more likely to try as well.

If your loved one has treatment alone:

  • Respect their privacy in everyday life. Do not inform friends, family or others about your loved one’s treatment.
  • Respect their privacy in therapy. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t push for them to tell you what happened.
  • There are many different approaches to the challenge of how to help addicts, but remember, change does not happen overnight.

449 Recovery is here to Help
449 Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation center helping people overcome their fears and assisting families to deal with a loved one’s challenges. Through evidence-based treatment plans, we are the light at the end of the tunnel and strive to provide hope and comfort. Whether you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction or substance abuse, the nightmare can end. Contact us today for that new you, by calling 855.435.7449.

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