One of the most difficult things in life is watching a loved one dealing with drug addiction. Who you see every day is not the person you love. You see an addict that is either in denial or lying about being an addict. You desperately want to find the best approach to help the person you love overcome the addiction. Drugs significantly change the way a person behaves. You see someone you love, but they are no longer the same person.
The worst part is when the problem deepens. Soon, you too are affected by the drug addict’s behavior. The constant lying, lack of money, missing expensive items, or problems with the police eventually lead towards your indifferent approach to the problem. You start to care less. You start to be in a phase where you think you have tried everything and nothing worked.
In most cases, it can be helpful to recognize the addiction at an early stage. Early stage identification will allow you to understand the addict’s perspective and educate the person of the ‘possibility’ they have a problem. What you need to remember is that there are no shortcuts in helping someone overcome drug addiction. Drug addiction is for a lifetime. It is a continual process that requires attention at every stage.
Although, every individual is different, here are things you should or shouldn’t consider doing when trying to help someone overcome their drug addiction.
What SHOULD You Do?
#1 Educate yourself about drug addiction, treatment, and facilities
The first thing you should do when you or a loved one is addicted to drugs is to understand the situation. By understanding addiction, you will know that addiction is not going away if you ignore it. You will learn that addiction is an illness that causes the person to behave in a certain way and it is a disease that takes over an addict’s entire life.
You can start with some information that will help you see the bigger picture. For example, the number of people using drugs worldwide, or drug treatment success. Although the information you will find is devastating, research will make you knowledgeable and prepared.
The struggle with addiction is like battling cancer or any other disease. The chances of winning the battle are 50-50. Understanding addiction at a deeper level means:
- Understanding how drugs affect the human body;
- Why drug causes addiction?
- Is it possible for the addict to overcome a drug addiction?
- Evaluating the stage of the addiction;
- How can you convince the person you love to seek help?
- Where can you find treatment facilities?
After you educate yourself, try to talk to your loved one as well. Tell the addict about your findings and show them actual results. Explain why they should consider treatment. If they are in denial, make them reconsider. Encourage them to face the reality and realize what they do to themselves affects everyone who loves them too.
#2 Be Patient
You need to lower your expectations and be extremely patient. The sooner you understand that addiction is something that doesn’t just disappear, the better. There are numerous examples of people that overcome their addiction for many years but they eventually return to drugs and end their lives by overdosing.
Being patient is the hardest thing to do. But always keep in mind that the person you love is a drug addict. Never forget that small things in the addict’s surrounding may trigger their return to drugs. You might go through the same pattern over and over. There will be good days, and there will be dark days. There will be days when you will be fed up. And that is okay. It is all part of the process. What will keep you patient is love. Keep telling yourself you are helping your loved one overcome drug addiction.
#3 Take care of yourself
Dealing with a loved one that is going through such a severe, life-threatening condition will drain your energy. You deal with high level of stress, expecting bad news on daily basis. You consistently care, have many negative thoughts and are incapable of doing the things you do every day. And you often forget to take care of yourself. There is a period when you feel guilty. Many family members have a feeling they failed the person that is trying to overcome drug addiction. A member of a drug addiction forum shares advice for every family member that feels guilty:
“You have to remember what Al-Anon teaches: You didn’t cause your brother’s addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. It’s hard for loved ones of people struggling with addiction to realize this, but it’s true.”
#4 Share your story
Do not hold everything inside. Share your story with a close friend, a parent or a support group. There will be days when you will feel ashamed. But there is nothing you should be ashamed of. Go online and share your story on forums. Those are the places where you will find unconditional help and support from people that survived the same. At some moments, this can mean so much.
#5 Understand that everything depends on the loved one
Whatever you do, remember that nothing depends on you. You can never make an addict overcome the drug addiction if there is no will from the person’s side. The saddest part is that they know. They know what they are doing, they know that they are eroding their families, but until they end up in jail, or see someone they know ending up dead, they might not consider treatment. Their addiction is so strong they eventually end up losing faith which may lead to quitting.
Then they feel helpless and continue doing what they are doing. You need to show them it is not too late. You need to show them there is still hope. They can beat their addiction with your help. But they need to be serious. Tell them you don’t want their promise because people break their promises. Instead, you want their actions. Day by day. And if it takes one step forward, and two steps back, you will be there to encourage. And you won’t quit on them. This is an example that shows an addict’s perspective:
“Meth addiction is the hardest thing to overcome, and you can’t trust an addict. I’ve been there, and I was married to one. They aren’t your husband, or your son, your cousin, your brother or sister. They are an addict and will lie and steal and do whatever they need to get that next hit. Their minds aren’t functioning like they should anymore. There is nothing more important than the next bag. They can’t love, they aren’t happy… They can pretend otherwise, but all they are is an addict.
The hardest thing I face is knowing that even though I was in her life, I wasn’t a mother to my daughter for three years. I wasn’t a wife, I was an addict, and I still consider myself an addict. I’ve been clean for about eight months now and I still wake up in sweats wanting it. It’s always on my mind. Always. It’s going to come down to who is stronger. Me or the drug. And I’m terrified I’m going to lose the fight.”
#6 Show your loved one a better approach
Talk to the person you love with compassion, love, and understanding, more like a friend. Put yourself in a role of a friend that wants to offer support. While everybody else might abandon them, show them you will be there. Maintaining that balance of keeping your sanity, be patient and disappointed at the same time is hard. Mostly because you still need to set your boundaries.
Your loved one is in a dark place. Be the light they need to see. That will be the right path that will help them overcome their drug addiction.
For more information please call this Toll Free 24/7 Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a completely confidential call. If you have health insurance it may cover up to 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now!