True Compassion: An Honest Guide on How to Help an Addict
Supporting a loved one who is addicted to drugs is challenging. What are the best ways to support them genuinely? Read on to discover how to help an addict.
Are you worried about your loved one’s substance abuse? You think they’re using too much, but you don’t know how to bring it up. How can you help them?
Navigating your relationship with an addict can be stressful and confusing.
Luckily, many have come before you. The guidance you need to help your loved one is available. You just need to be willing to learn about addiction and your role.
Only your loved one can save themselves, but you can make the path easier for them. Keep reading to learn how to help an addict get clean.
1. Understand What Addiction Is
Forget your preconceived notions of what an addict is like. Addiction affects all types of people from all walks of life.
It’s also a disease, not something the addict is choosing. They made the initial choice to experiment with substances. But brain chemistry took it from there.
Do not blame them for having a sickness.
Plenty of people experiment with drugs and alcohol but don’t become addicts. Your loved one is different because their brain is more inclined to become addicted. Understanding this will help you remove judgment and criticism from your perspective.
2. Accept Your Role
As mentioned above, you can’t save your loved one. Only they can do that. But, your role as a compassionate supporter is crucial to their path.
Your influence has the power to give your loved one hope and motivation. We learn from example, so you can set an example of strength and compassion.
Before you start a conversation with them, set your expectations. It’s normal for addicts to relapse many times after getting clean. This is going to be a long journey without a quick fix.
3. Open the Communication
The way you discuss addiction with your loved one matters. If they sense you’re being judgmental or unsupportive, they won’t want to talk. You need to make your conversations a safe space for them.
This means asking questions more than telling them what to do. Talk about things besides the addiction; ask about their goals, interests, and passions. Be excited about their future.
When the topic of addiction does come up, approach the topic of getting help. Tell them you can help find a treatment center. But, the ball is in their court; they have to be willing.
It’s crucial you speak from a place of compassion and love. Yes, it can be infuriating and heartbreaking to see your loved one throwing away their life. But, speaking from those emotions will not help them right now.
4. Consider an Intervention
Interventions are an option once it’s clear your loved one doesn’t want help. If they won’t choose to get help on their own, start researching the different types of interventions.
Some interventions ambush the addict and make them feel trapped. Others are invitational and they know what they’re sitting down for.
There are so many factors involved with planning an intervention to be successful. It’s best to get a professional interventionist involved to guide the planning. They can also mediate the intervention so you can focus on your part; read more here.
5. Don’t Be an Enabler
Part of being a compassionate supporter is setting boundaries. You cannot enable their behavior anymore. This doesn’t mean you stop loving and supporting them; boundaries come from a place of love.
Addicts will often ask or beg family and friends for money. They may steal from you to get money for their substance. Sometimes, they’ll manipulate your emotions to feel bad for them.
Your strength in this step is crucial.
Set new boundaries. Here are some examples of boundaries that have worked for others:
- No more using in this home.
- No substance-abusing friends allowed in this home.
- I will not lend you any more money.
- I will not bail you out of jail or pay for a lawyer.
Depending on your relationship, you may want to set a “no more covering” boundary. You will not lie for them or cover for them anymore.
This is a scary step for many loved ones of addicts. You’re scared that setting boundaries will push them away and into more using. It’s important to remember that this disease will push them whether they live with you or not.
6. Be a Positive Influence
Once your boundaries are set, you need to work on being a positive influence. You may need to make some life changes to fit into this role.
For one, consider cutting substances out of your life. Even if you can handle your alcohol, cutting it out shows your loved one that they can do it. At the very least, don’t keep any substances in your home.
Be a reminder to the user that there is more to life than using. Bring them into the present by engaging them in normal conversation. Plan sober activities for the family or your friend group.
7. Practice Self Care
Supporting a using loved one is overwhelming and stressful. You place a huge burden on your shoulders to help them. Their refusal to get help is heartbreaking.
It’s crucial that you take care of yourself first.
Go to therapy by yourself and learn tools to cope with this situation. Treat your body and mind well through exercise and good food. Do things you enjoy and are passionate about.
You can’t help anyone if you’re falling apart yourself. The one way to keep yourself together is by making your well-being a priority.
Want to Learn More About How to Help an Addict?
Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. Your loved one is sick and needs help. When wondering how to help an addict, know that only they can truly get better is by helping themselves.
The best ways to support your loved one are by following the steps above. Be a positive and compassionate person in their life. But, set boundaries and set an example of strength.
To help others well, you need to treat yourself well. Self-care is super important.
For more information on addiction, well-being, and living your best life, check out these interviews with people killing it in life.