Is someone you’re close to struggling with addiction? I’ve been there, and it’s a downright powerless place. Actually, I’ve been on both sides of this undesirable coin, so I may be able to offer some unique insight.
A little over a decade ago, my life revolved around my next fix. I had friends and family who cared about me, but they felt powerless over my addiction.
It took a ton of effort and commitment, but I made it through to the other side. I was sober for about three years before my aunt confided in me about my little cousin’s issues with drugs. Having gone through recovery myself, you might think I’d have some hope. But I felt just as powerless as everyone else. And they were all relying on me to “fix it” because I had recovered myself.
I had to explain (again and again) that no one can fix someone else’s addiction. The addict must want change in order for it to happen. What you can do, though, is provide an endless amount of support. As a recovering addict, I know how much easier it is to find help when you know you have the support of friends and family.
So I offered my best tips for being supportive during someone’s addiction recovery. Please use these if you also have a friend who is struggling. It may mean the difference between them getting help or falling deeper into addiction.
Understand They Aren’t In Control
Addiction is the only disease that tricks you into thinking you’re healthy. And if you think you don’t have a problem, how are other people expected to understand your internal struggles?
Ultimately, you must stop listening to what your friend is telling you and pay closer attention to how they’re acting. They may say they can stop any time, but if they can’t seem to make that happen, they’re probably addicted.
They may also tell you that the things they’re doing are their choice. Having been there, I can tell you that it’s a very confusing time. You are saying and doing things – it’s not someone else – but at the same time, you can’t stop.
Regardless of what the addict tells you if they are truly addicted, the substance is in control. This should also make it easier to forgive wrongdoings until they find their way.
It’s easy to cross the line from supporter to enabler if you aren’t paying attention. But enabling will have the opposite effect from what you want.
Before you make any decisions regarding your drug-addicted friend, ask yourself if your actions could make it easier for them to use. If the answer is yes, the action isn’t supported, it’s enabling.
When you make it easier for someone to do drugs, they’re more likely to continue along the same path. Even in your own life, you’ve probably seen how you need some level of discomfort before you can make a difficult change. It’s the same with an addict.
Talk About Addiction
Addiction is a difficult subject to discuss, especially with an addict. If you’ve ever seen a Lord of the Rings movie, think about how fiercely Gollum protects the ring. That’s about how addicts feel about their substance of abuse. So naturally, when you bring up the topic, it will not be met with agreeable conversation.
Still, you can’t truly support someone until the issue is out in the open. They must understand that you know what’s going on and will be there for support. Even if you think it’s obvious. Even if you’ve seen this person with a needle in her arm, talk about it.
This doesn’t have to be a major confrontation. Just make him or her aware that you know and they can come to you for help. And if you’re going to be the go-to person, find some helpful recovery programs to keep in your back pocket for when the time comes. When your friend asks for help, you’ll be ready.
When someone you love is addicted, all you want to do is help them. You want to keep them from destroying their lives or becoming another statistic. But in truth, all you can do is offer your love and support. With any luck, they will come around soon.