Substance abuse does not just affect the person who is abusing drugs or alcohol; it affects their friends, loved ones, and co-workers as well. But when you suspect a friend or loved one has an addiction problem, you may feel helpless when it comes to getting them the help they need.
The following tips will help you know what to do when you think a loved one has an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or any other substance:
• Join a support group for yourself. Groups like Al-Anon and many others exist specifically to provide support and coping mechanisms for loved ones of those who have an addiction problem. This can be a valuable tool.
• Don’t place blame or guilt. Threatening to punish an addict, appealing to their emotions (“Can’t you see what you’re doing to the family?”), and trying to guilt-trip a loved one into getting help can actually be counterproductive. More often than not, they already know there is a problem.
• Don’t blame yourself. It’s easy to turn the blame inward, but it’s important to remember than no one forces another person to drink or do drugs.
• Don’t attempt to reason or argue with them when they are impaired. This could be dangerous to you.
• Do not try and force them to get help. If your loved one doesn’t want to get help or doesn’t think there is a problem, they can’t be forced to seek treatment.
• Provide support. It’s important to provide support as a loved one receives treatment for addictions. Recovery takes time and can include relapses or therapy to get to the initial problem.
Whether your loved one is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or something else, encouraging them to recognize there is a problem and seek treatment and then supporting them through that treatment is a long and difficult process. Luckily there are a number of resources available to those who are dealing with their loved ones’ addictions.