Today I was reading this article Addiction Help which had many great points about others who want to help someone who is slipping into the grips of drug addiction or alcohol abuse.
What really caught my attention about the article is that it had suggestions for someone to help another person in various stages of addiction – someone who is just starting to show signs of starting a habit, someone who had been addicted for a long time and you both know they need help but they will not get it, and someone who’s ready for help – but isn’t making the effort to clean up and finally overcome the addiction.
All three situations are difficult when you are someone who is concerned about a family member or friend’s drug use and addiction. The first scenarios is one of the toughest – since the person is not so deeply into their addiction denial is very high.
They might not think they have a problem, and they probably see you as a pest and an annoyance. It can be very difficult to get through to the person, and you may even find they distance themselves from you completely. This is sad, not only in the fact that a relationship is in jeopardy, but as the person continues with their habits they find themselves getting sucked deeper and deeper into their addiction and actually quitting will only become harder.
There’s not a lot you can do at that stage unfortunately. You can attempt to talk with them, but be prepared for resistance and anger. Sometimes just stepping back and letting them know you’ll still be there can help. Other times, all you can do is consider your own personal mental health and decide if trying to help them is healthy for you.
In the phase where someone knows they need help, but doesn’t want it – again, just making yourself available to talk can be a help – and at the same time it may make them only angrier at you. Part of this is fueled by fear – they’re afraid of how they will cope without drugs and alcohol, and they’re afraid the recovery process will be a painful one. Sometimes having them meet with recovered addicts or a therapist who specializes in that type of thing can help them overcome those fears enough to begin treatment.
In the case when you have someone who knows they need help, but have stipulations such as “I’m not going to group therapy” or “I’m not going to a hospital or drug abuse treatment facility”, it can also be difficult, because even if they manage to quit for a short time, their chances of relapse increase, or they may not actually quit, only going to greater lengths to hide their addiction. Until they are willing to listen to the advice of medical professionals, it’s going to be a long tricky road. Eventually, they will give up if you continue to be supportive and offer ways to help, such as attending a meeting with them.
In most cases with the drug or alcohol addiction, they need to first hit “rock bottom” before they realize changing their behavior is necessary. When there is nothing left to do but lose everything, die, or get help – some will eventually get the help they need. Unfortunately others may continue on until eventually addiction claims their life.
When you are friends or a family member of an addict, it can be painful. Seeing someone self destruct and only push you away hurts. It’s important that if the addict still refuses to get help, that you still take care of yourself – talking with a friend or a counselor can not only help you deal with the stress, but it may also enable you to give you the ideas and support to breakthrough in helping them.