How to Help a Loved One Struggling with Addiction: A Guide

Seeing a loved one struggling with addiction is painful. They aren’t just ruining their life. They are hurting you and even threatening the lives of others. They become argumentative, secretive, and downright hurtful when the addiction takes hold. They start to steal, start to become different, and at times break away completely.

If you know what is happening, you can find more patience for the situation, but you cannot let it go on for long before taking action. If you don’t, you may just lose each other.

A Guide on Help a Loved One Struggling with Addiction

Before Intervention

There are actually a few steps that you should take before the intervention.

Build Trust

You need to avoid nagging, being critical, or lecturing your loved one about their addiction. Don’t name call or belittle them. For them to be willing to get help, they need to be prepared to listen to your first. The frustration can get to you, which is why a strong support system and a strategy are going to be game changers.

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This does not mean that you should allow them to walk over you. Set very specific ground rules and pre-set consequences. If you find you can trust them, then you can have an open and honest discussion one-on-one. Otherwise, you will want to gather support and stage an intervention.

Collect Information

You want to become very knowledgeable about Struggling with Addiction and its underlying causes. This isn’t to lord the knowledge over your loved one, but to instead approach their addiction with compassion. Save any articles, pamphlets, or other useful pieces of information to give to them during the intervention, so that they can go through it and hopefully come to the same conclusion that you have.

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Tips for the Intervention

Every intervention is unique, and it is essential that the goal be to get their attention so that they listen to you. Denial is the biggest hurdle to overcome when you have an addiction, and that alone is the purpose of an intervention. You need them to listen to you and agree on their own volition. Have pamphlets and other documents for them to go through on their own time so that they don’t feel rushed into a decision.

The Treatment Process

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There are two ways to get them help. One is if they overdose and end up in the hospital. The other is if they willingly agree to treatment. In both cases, they will eventually end up in a treatment center. If you can, try to choose one like Harris House, which customizes their approach per person, so that your loved one can graduate from inpatient to outpatient on their own schedule.

How You Can Help When They Are Undergoing Inpatient Treatment

Follow the guidance and advice of their therapists and counselors. If they don’t believe your loved one should see visitors, don’t go. If your presence is essential to a session, be there. Follow their advice so that you can provide support when it is appropriate.

How You Can Help During Their Outpatient Treatment

Having your own support system is essential when they move back in with you for outpatient treatment. Be prepared for anger and blame, and try not to be aggressive towards them, just be plain about how you feel. The initial adjustment period is going to be hard, so try to find patience and remember to rely on your support system. You are not in this alone.

Helping their Recovery at Home

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Struggling with Addiction is not a virus. It isn’t a matter of getting better and suddenly having the cell memory or antibodies to fight it off again and again. Your loved one’s brain has been hardwired to want that substance, and more importantly, the underlying cause of why they started their substance abuse will still be there. Ongoing outpatient treatment can give them guidance and very effective support, but they need healthier relationships and habits at home to truly provide them with the strength to stay sober.

1. Build Healthy Habits

Healthy habits are a fundamental building block to work on with your loved one, and you can easily be a part of that process just by spending time together. Choose a sport that you start to do together. This could be as simple as going on walks a few times a week, or both joining up to the same local sports league.

Set up standing dinners once a week so that you can ensure they are eating right and see them regularly, or even help them prep healthy lunches so that they can continue to eat right during work.

The best side effect of spending this time together is that you are there and present. You can see any warning signs for yourself, and you can keep up to date with what is going on with their lives and how they are feeling.

The only thing you need to remember is that it shouldn’t just be you. Their other family and friends should also be on board like this so that your loved one can have a strong support group and have every opportunity to build healthy habits and make smarter lifestyle decisions.

2. Work to Keep Them from Triggers

The reason why it is essential to stay up to date with their lives is that relapses happen. Knowing about a job loss, or about a potentially abusive or unhealthy new relationship, can prepare you and help them. Being prepared for a relapse can help them avoid it entirely or, at the very least, get help again ASAP.

3. Care for Yourself

Caring for someone else’s well being like this, especially in those first few weeks and months after their inpatient treatment, is exhausting. It is also frustrating and stressful, and you should not do it alone. As stated before, your loved one needs the help of more than just one person, they need an entire social network. You also need to rely on your own support system. This can be friends and family, or special support groups.

To care for another, you must first care for yourself, so stay strong and help in whatever way you can. Your loved one may not thank you at first, but one day they will.

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