Addiction can strike anyone. Often, it strikes those that you’d least expect it to – close friends, family members, lovers, your children. Nobody ever expects that their loved ones are going to start using drugs, it’s just something that happens.
Just because you don’t think it’ll happen to anyone you know, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for it. Addiction’s a nasty situation and there’s no real way to completely protect yourself from it. The least you can do is have a backup plan – for yourself, and for your loved ones.
Are You Sure Someone You Love Is Addicted?
There are some telltale signs that can indicate someone’s addicted. Before taking any action, make sure that your loved one actually has an addiction problem! The last thing you want to do is confront someone who doesn’t have a problem.
- Are they spending money with nothing to show?
- Are they tired, sluggish, having difficulty speaking?
- Are they missing important engagements?
- Are they leaving the house for short periods of time frequently?
- Are they staying up all night?
Drug addicts can be pretty good at hiding their usage from people, but if you keep an eye out, you’ll notice the signs.
Someone I Love Is Addicted to Drugs
This is a hard realization for most people to accept. A lot of folk even deny it – they’ll find excuses for their husbands, children, or family members so that they don’t have to acknowledge that they have a substance abuse problem.
Do: Encourage them with positive affirmation. Find out the specific details of their drug addiction in a friendly way.
Don’t: Judge or act condescending. This is a great way to discourage an addict from trusting your advice.
Do: Approach the problem in a light-hearted but serious manner. Acknowledge that there is a problem, but don’t treat it as if the addict is at fault.
Don’t: Make excuses for your loved one. This is the last thing you want to do. Making excuses and covering up the problem will only allow it to fester – it’s like slapping a band-aid over a broken bone. You know there’s a dangerous problem afoot – don’t hope that it’ll just fix itself.
Addiction very, very rarely ‘sorts itself out.’
Don’t Point Fingers
At your loved ones, or at yourself. Putting blame on somebody will only strain the situation. A lot of parents blame themselves for their children’s drug problems. A wife might worry that it’s her fault that her husband turned to the bottle. Two best friends might accuse each other of enabling each other.
Ultimately, pointing fingers only causes more damage. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is that someone’s developed a drug problem – all that matters is addressing the problem. If there’s someone blatantly pushing drugs on your loved one, then obviously they should be avoided – but blaming yourself or others for the problem only adds guilt and shame to a problem that’s already incredibly stressful.
Don’t: Suggest that they were at fault for experimenting with drugs
See Past the Addict
Treating an addict like an addict is a great way to burn your bridges with that person. Until the later stages of addiction, most addicts don’t see themselves as such. They’re just casual drug users who really enjoy their drug of choice.
Do: Treat the addict the same as you treated them before
Treating a substance abuser differently because of their habits often pushes them away. They won’t consider you to be reaching out to them, they’ll consider you to be antagonizing and accusatory. If you want to get through to them, you have to treat them as an equal.
Don’t: Approach them like a counselor or authority figure
Forcing an addict to go into rehab is a tremendously unreliable way to help them. If an addict’s dragged into rehab before they’re willing to check themselves in, there’s a huge chance they’ll relapse upon release.
Do: Give the addict time to realize they have a problem
The sad truth is that most addicts have to hit rock bottom before they’re willing to quit. I tried to go clean half a dozen times – sometimes by choice, and sometimes not. It was only on my sixth attempt that I knew I’d stay clean.
Don’t: Try and force them to do something they aren’t ready for
You can’t quit drugs unless you really want to. You may be destroying your body, brain, and relationships – but if you don’t want to quit, you won’t. For a lot of addicts, they first must do so much damage to their lives that they can no longer deny that their addiction is ruining them.
Offer Support, but Don’t Enable
A lot of drug addicts can weasel money out of the pockets of their friends and families. I know – I’ve been there. It’s easy to craft a believable story when the only thing standing between you and your next fix is borrowing twenty bucks.
Do: Provide verbal and emotional support. Try to find a rehabilitation facility that suits them.
While it might seem cruel to refuse your son or daughter $20 that they need for groceries, you have to. Instead, ask them to come out for lunch. Drive them to the food bank. Bring them a care package of fruit and vegetables. If they’re truly hungry, they’ll appreciate this just as much as money – if they’re resilient, or come up with excuses about why they need the cash, they’re probably using it to score.
Don’t: Provide finances or an easy route to supplementing their drug use
Care for Them Like You Would Care for the Rest of Your Family
A drug addict may behave differently than the rest of your loved ones, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be treated the same in most situations. Drug addiction is a tricky situation, and needs to be treated carefully.
Patience, sympathy, and concern are three necessities for someone hoping to help somebody overcome drug addiction. If you can muster these three traits, you’re already on the right path towards helping your loved ones towards sobriety.