Helping someone you care about who has a substance use disorder is never easy. Fortunately, with your support, your loved one will have an increased chance of recovery. While each situation is unique, depending on the type and severity of the addiction, there are several guidelines that can help you better cope and help your loved one to make sustainable changes over the long term:
Before we outline some specific steps, it’s important to set the expectations for yourself. As we said, there is no easy or fast way to help someone overcome addiction and there are bound to be difficulties. Knowing what to expect can ensure that you’re better prepared.
For instance, your loved one may…
- become angry and deny they have a problem.
- not want to change or stop using.
- fear consequences like losing his or her job or doing jail time.
- feel too embarrassed to discuss his or her addiction with you.
- resist discussing personal issues with a professional.
Lending a Helping Hand
Here are a few steps you can take to help your loved one get addiction help:
Get educated: Learning all you can about addiction and addiction treatment is the best first step you can take to help your loved one. Ask your primary care physician for a list of reputable references.
Build trust: Again, this is easier said than done, especially if the person has already betrayed your trust as a result of his or her addiction. By building trust, you’re making it easier for your loved one to turn to you when he or she is ready to begin the journey toward sobriety. Note: Avoid the following trust-busters:
- Nagging, criticizing or lecturing your loved one.
- Yelling, name calling and/or exaggerating.
- Engaging in drinking or drug use yourself; you’ll come off as a hypocrite.
Get help for yourself: Loving a person who has an addiction is stressful and you’re likely wrestling with a host of emotions, including anxiety, anger, guilt, shame and/or grief. Plus, once your loved one sees you getting help, he may be more willing to get help for himself. Consider individual counseling and/or find an online or in-person support group like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon or Families Anonymous.
Understand your options: There are many types of addiction treatment programs and services and in a variety of settings, including outpatient, inpatient and residential. Explore the various options for your loved one and know that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all addiction treatment.
Be patient: Addiction recovery is a process – for yourself and your loved one. Try your best to respect the process; don’t push your loved one too hard. And, remember, change will not happen overnight.
Getting Help for Your Loved One
If you or a loved one suffers from a substance use disorder, NorthStar Transitions can help! For more information about our programs and services, call us today: 303-974-7953.