The battle with addiction isn’t an individual one. It takes a village. Just as addiction impacts a person’s family and friends, battling it requires the support of many. If you are wondering how to help someone with addiction, you first need to understand what your role is in this fight.
Maybe you are the person they want to talk to every day about their problems. Maybe you’re the person they want to go for a run or a ball game with. Or maybe – especially if you are a family member who has been taken advantage of – it’s time to create boundaries with the person suffering from addiction, for your sake and for theirs.
Understanding your role is essential in being an asset to someone’s recovery. Here are some things you can do to be better prepared to offer your support, in whatever form that happens to be.
9 Ways to Help Someone with Addiction
- Do your research: Substance abuse has become so common that there are now thousands of websites where you can learn how to help someone with addiction. Many of these resources are available for free, allowing you to find out everything you want to know about addiction, what causes it, how it can be treated, and what it takes to fully recover.
- Call an addiction treatment center: If you are not sure where to begin with approaching someone about their addiction problems, try calling a qualified addiction treatment center and ask for some guidance. They understand your challenge and will can help guide you. They can even get on the phone explain to the person you are worried about how they can benefit from professional help.
- Line up resources: There really is no free addiction treatment. Either it’s paid for by insurance (whether it’s Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance), out-of-pocket, or through a facility that receives grants and/or donations. If you lack insurance or access to one of these facilities, all is not lost. You should ask for at least a partial scholarship, a sliding scale fee, or a payment plan. You can also approach a family member if needed. This is something to deal with now, so that, when you are helping someone with addiction, you are ready to go when they are, which brings us to the next point.
- Be ready when they are: In many cases, there comes a time when people with addiction are ready to get help. Be there when that opening materializes for your loved one. Now is time to activate the plan for treatment you’ve been working on. It’s important to act quickly, because sometimes that mood passes and then you have to wait for another opening.
- Join your own support groups: There are plenty of programs and groups for those dealing with addiction. There are also support groups for people like you who are trying people with addiction. These people are going through the same things you are. They can offer some advice on how to maintain your composure, be supportive, and maintain your sanity.
- Take care of you: It’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s life. However, as Al-Anon puts it, you didn’t cause the addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. Proper interpersonal boundaries help us stay healthy, mentally and physically. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Whether it’s keeping a journal, going fishing, taking a walk, or streaming your favorite show, make self-care a part of your everyday life. And don’t miss those meetings!
- Address the problem one-on-one, no interventions: The media has made interventions a well-known method of confronting those in need of addiction treatment. One-on-one is more personal and doesn’t embarrass them. This may help them to stay less defensive and understand what you are trying to point out to them.
- Don’t be discouraged: The first time you bring up the problem of addiction in someone’s life, you might not get anywhere. In fact, it may be better to step back a bit and let them realize some consequences (remember, healthy boundaries, right?). But don’t go down the rabbit hole of discouragement, because recovery has happened to many people before and it can happen for your loved one, too. As long as they are still breathing, there is still hope.
- Let them know you still love them: While you should make it clear you are not supporting their addiction, people who suffer from addiction should still have no doubt that you care about them. It can be a reason for them to try to stay alive instead of sinking into the abyss. Even though certain behaviors are off-limits, you are rooting for them and will always be there when they are ready to step away from addiction.
How to Help Someone with Addiction: It May Not be Easy, But it’s Definitely Worth It
If this was an easy fight, everyone would do it. That’s why millions struggle with this every day, and you have to help your loved one understand that as well. This is not a fight they have to go through alone and you are there to help them every step of the way.
There may be times when you feel unappreciated. You may feel that the person you are trying to help is being rude to you. This may even be true. However, you need to understand it’s the addiction talking. Your loved one is still in there, underneath the shroud of addiction.
As always, there are things you have control over and things you do not. Similarly, there are things you can do and things you cannot. It’s okay to have limitations and boundaries Just be there for them when they truly need it.
Most importantly, don’t lose hope. People who’ve had addictions for decades have still been able to turn it around. One day soon, it could be your loved one. And on that day (and the ones that follow), it will all be worth it.