How to Help A Friend Fight Drug Or Alcohol Addiction
Fighting an addiction all by yourself is tough. It often leads to a serious case of depression or worse. Alcohol or drug addiction should be treated right away but with a lot of care and compassion. The journey might be long, and there’s always a chance of disappointment. But what is important here is to never stop believing. If you have a friend who is battling with alcohol or drug addiction, lend out a helping hand and be kind to them. Make it clear to them that putting the matter under wraps can’t be the solution; instead, encourage them to get proper treatment for it is highly necessary.
Most addicts do not even understand the consequences of their addiction on themselves and everyone around them. Hence, intervention is absolutely crucial. Heavy drinkers and drug addicts are blinded by substances that prevent them from making conscious and wise choices. Intervening might give them the right perspective to their condition and well-being, and prepare them for the treatment they need to get sober or clean.
Understanding why the addiction started in the first place is the first step to rehabilitation. For most people, it starts casually — almost out of curiosity — as they observe others doing it which might give them the illusion that doing what others are doing makes them cool, too. However, at some point, it changes from casual to a serious problem. Not every person who uses drugs or drinks is addicted. It becomes an issue when it starts disrupting normalcy and creating a problem in the workplace, personal life, and health. There are several other factors that might contribute to addiction — family history, past traumatic experience, anxiety, or depression.
Educate yourself first. If you do not know enough about addiction and the problems it can create, then you can’t help or teach anyone else about it. Hence, gather whatever available learning materials that you can manage to get your hands on, and increase your knowledge about the whole issue. When you know how addiction affects someone, you will understand the signs and symptoms of your friend better. Also, gather all information that you can about help lines, rehabs, and treatment centers.
Be gentle and patient when approaching a troubled friend. Remember being harsh is never going to work with people who are addicted or depressed because you are highlighting and judging their mistakes and insecurities. You will have to avoid confrontations and accusations at all cost, and keep persuading your friend. Expect them to get defensive or even violent, but always stay calm and level-headed. Never point fingers or blame them. For instance, say “I feel you need help”, instead of saying, ” I think you are a drug addict”.
Be sensitive with what you say, and choose your words carefully. Don’t straight out tell them that they are drinking too much or getting aggressive or violent of late. Instead, tell them, for example, that you observed that their speech was incoherent last night, or that they seem to be having a hard time lately. Express your sincerity in seeing them recover from their addiction, making sure to emphasize that the path to sobriety is possible. You may even tell them your observations on how addiction has disrupted their relationships and life in general.
If your friend declines your help, then leave the door open but don’t be angry with them. Remember, avoid preaching, lecturing, demoralizing, or threatening them because these actions might only cause more harm than good. Instead, keep supporting them through thick and thin. Make it quite clear that whatever decision they take, you will do your best to support them, and keep them away from harm. Also, leave important information regarding their treatment all around the house and also include a few emergency numbers in their phone contacts list. If they do decide to get treatment, then be there for them when they go through the difficult phase of abstaining. Encourage them to join self-help groups where they can talk to people who are on the same journey.
While you are caring for your friend, do not forget to show some self-love. Taking care of yourself while you are helping another is important. Since you are in charge here, you should stay physically and mentally fit at all times. There are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous sessions for caregivers, too. You can attend them to see what else you can do for your friend in order to help them.
Intervene as early as you can, and don’t get discouraged. Motivation and encouragement are two things that both you and your friend will need in this long and difficult journey to get clean or sober.
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