Millions are learning to deal with substance abuse and addiction every year. It’s never easy. If you know someone with a substance abuse problem, you know how hard it can be to get through to them. You know how hard it can be to get them the help that they need while reminding them that you do care.
Addicts can be brash and harsh, and they often make bad decisions whenever they’re under the influence. You’d think this would be enough to persuade them to stop, but addicts get such a good feeling from their habits, they may worry that staying sober all the time isn’t worth it. Addiction is a disease, and no one can heal from it alone. They will need you. What they need from you more than anything else is understanding. If you want to help them, you have to know where they are coming from.
They need you to acknowledge that they have a problem without criticizing or judging them for it. They need you to encourage them to get the help that they need, not guilt them into it. There are dozens of things you should keep in mind when trying to convince an addict that sobriety is, not only possible but worth every minute of it.
Know the Symptoms
Substance abuse starts as substance use. Not everyone who uses becomes an addict, but every addict uses more than they should. Addicts can do a good job of hiding their problems, too, even from themselves. Just ask anyone who’s ever loved an addict. They’ll often deny they have a problem until it becomes so evident that it can no longer be overlooked. One clear sign that their substance use has turned into abuse is that they appear to be intoxicated more often than not. Another is that they experience withdrawal symptoms when they go without it. Addicts neglect themselves, sometimes looking tattered or acquiring an unpleasant smell. Their memories worsen, and their brains function differently when they are high on something.
They will likely also:
- steal money,
- have problems at work or in school,
- look and feel tired, and
- become less social if it means they have to sacrifice their high, even if it is only for a few hours.
The only way to help addicts is to address the issue. You can’t ignore the problem or force them to quit, but you can stop enabling them and believe in them even when they’re ready to give up on themselves.
What You Should Focus On
You cannot control an addict, so don’t try to. You can only influence them to make better choices for their lives. You’ll need to educate yourself. Even if you’ve suffered from addiction or alcoholism, everyone’s experience is different. They fear what will come from admitting they have a problem—like having to deal with a deeper issue. Your loved one could feel embarrassed or awkward talking about it. Listening can make a real difference, but it won’t be easy.
There will be many roadblocks, and you’ll want to build trust, be honest, and keep lines of communication open. All this means no nagging, no threats, and no criticism. Keep realistic expectations—no one changes overnight. You can demonstrate that sobriety is worth more than what they invest in their drug of choice by ridding yourself of recreational drug or alcohol use. Staying sober will make you stronger for what is to come. While you’re focused on your loved one’s problem, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. You’ll have to set boundaries and stand firm by them. Most importantly, you can’t give up.
Recovery is a long process; it can often take years. Be patient. Your loved one will need your support, but don’t let them take advantage of your kindness. Prepare for hate to be thrown your way, especially in the beginning. They’ll blame you (and others) for their problems. You can look into treatment options while they prepare for change. They’ll likely relapse—but don’t fret. It’s all part of the recovery process. Stay optimistic and keep encouraging your loved one to get help.
Therapy could be beneficial. You may even benefit from sessions with a therapist. Everyone needs help sometimes. Even with all this advice, you may still not know the best way to approach your loved one, but our counselors, who are available 24 hours a day, to help you through it. Call us at 123-456-7890.