According to the Addiction Center, more than 20 million Americans have at least one substance addiction, yet fewer than 12% get treated for it. This figure suggests that very few Americans have the resources to combat their addiction actively, so it needs to change. Addiction is not easy to live with. It is a mental health condition often mistaken for weakness and cowardice.
There are many reasons why a person may start substance use. These can include genetics, a stressful environment, and suppression of mental health ailments like depression or anxiety. However, without timely help, not only does addiction spiral out of control, but it can become fatal.
So if you have a loved one struggling with substance abuse, reach out and help them. While it is a distressing notion to witness, your support can give them the courage to pull out of this cycle. Here’s how you can lend your support:
1. Connect Your Loved One With A Rehab Center
Rehabilitation centers have the tools that your loved one needs to feel better. These establishments will do more than get them off substances but also help them find a routine, develop a structure and find stability before rejoining society. You can help your loved one choose a treatment facility. This will ease their worries and assure them that no harm will come their way while they’re going to be at their most vulnerable.
Organizations like the Delphi Health Group have excellent services and are highly recommended as the ideal rehab facility. It has a well-trained staff, access to inpatient treatment options, and adequately maintained establishments that uphold safety and hygiene standards.
As your loved one prepares to check into rehab, make sure you are with them every step of the way. Change can be scary, and they may feel overwhelmed with their decision to get admitted. Hence you should reassure them that they’ll be safe, let them know that their choice is highly courageous and that you’ll visit them regularly.
2. Never Take On A Confrontational Tone
You may be distraught the first time you learn about your loved one’s addiction. It is natural to feel worried and scared for their well-being which can cause emotional outbursts. However, no matter where your emotions lie, you cannot let the situation get heated. Your loved one may already suffer under the weight of their addiction, and your anger may push them even further. In addition, it is not easy to ask for help, much less admit that they may have a problem, which is why they may show resistance and denial.
In such cases, don’t press for answers; instead, show your loved one that you care and want to help. Adopt a nonjudgmental tone and don’t make them feel guilty for getting into substance abuse in the first place. You need to earn their trust, allowing them to open up to you and lean on you for support. Listen without interrupting when your loved one narrates their story, and then reassure them there is help available. From there, it is a matter of you connecting them to the right resources.
3. Understand Recovery Is Not Linear
Treatment for addiction takes time. A handful of conversations and one trip to the rehab may not be enough for them to become sober. More than 80% of individuals experience a relapse within the same year they get treated. You need to realize this is part of the process, and there is no shame in falling back on old habits. Treat your loved one like a toddler learning to walk. They will continuously fall before they get the hang of it.
If someone you care about starts showing signs of relapse, offer your help by connecting them to support groups and helplines. You may even talk to a doctor or convince your loved one to start therapy to give recovery another shot. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and meetings like the 12-step program can be empowering for them. They may feel less isolated and develop a sense of belonging when they meet more individuals struggling with the same problems.
4. Help Your Loved One Manage Their Surroundings
Your loved one’s environment can be a significant source of trigger for them which can also induce a relapse. Therefore you need to actively distance them from any environment that can push them into severe distress, which includes their home. For example, if your loved one has the option of moving to a new house, help them move. But if they can’t afford a new home, your best option is to help them stay in an organized and sober environment.
Familiar spaces, scents, and colors can remind your close ones of their addiction days. This can cause cravings and may force them to start using again. However, these cravings aren’t like your familiar hunger pangs. Instead, the sensation is compelling and can take hold of them, leaving them unsatiated unless they give in. So, clear up their space by removing all substances.
5. Don’t become an enabler
As much as you want to be a pillar of strength for your loved ones, you need to draw boundaries. Coming out of addiction requires resilience and patience, which is why you cannot enable them. Sometimes, your loved one may convince you to let them use again or replace one addiction with another. However, you cannot allow your resolve to weaken and have to be firm to help them stay on track.
Encourage your loved ones to be more independent and let them handle their chores by lending a hand now and then. For example, ask them to help you when preparing meals and slowly pull back, letting them take the lead with cooking. You may need to lay down ground rules to maintain structure, such as motivating them to sleep early, exercise, and find new hobbies. If your loved one tries to stop or doesn’t listen to you, don’t cave into their demands.
Helping a loved one out of addiction is nothing short of a challenge. Beating addiction requires immense work before users can finally get back on their feet. Therefore, to make their journey more effortless, try to check them into a rehab unit as soon as possible. Don’t confront them or make them feel guilty for their choices when you’re attempting to connect your loved ones to the right resources to facilitate their wellness.
Pulling yourself free from the shackles of addiction takes time, so continue extending your compassion and kindness even if your loved one experiences a relapse. For example, you can help them tidy up their house so they can adjust to their new surroundings without feeling triggered. Lastly, don’t be the reason why your loved one struggles to give up their addiction. Active enabling and not holding them accountable does them more harm than good.