Taking Charge of Life: How to Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction
Almost everyone has someone in their life who is suffering from an addiction problem, whether it is a dependence on drugs, alcohol, gambling or some other form of addiction. Many people even have a partner suffering from this condition or a family member who continually struggles with an activity or substance dependence. Relationships with substance addicted individuals and their family members are often considered painful, unsupportive and destructive. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With proper support, compassion and love, your loved one has a greater chance of overcoming their addiction and becoming a healthier and happier person. So, here are some ways you can help someone you love take charge of their life and overcome addiction:
- Searching for warning signs
Substance addiction is an inside battle, and it can often be quite difficult to tell whether your loved one is struggling with it, especially considering the fact that people with a substance use disorder generally tend to deny the fact that they have a problem, even to themselves, and they continue to act as usual, trying to keep their habits a secret for as long as possible. While symptoms can differ depending on the person and the type of addiction they’re struggling with, there are still some common signs that can be observed through your loved one’s physical and psychological changes. Lying, stealing and social alienation are some of the most common behavioral patterns of someone struggling with substance abuse, while bloodshot eyes, an unkempt appearance and memory problems are some of the most obvious physical signs of addiction.
Substance use disorder can have numerous negative effects on both the body and the mind of someone who is addicted. They tend to change their character and their personality, which often causes them to distance themselves from their friends and family, resulting in alienation, loneliness and even depression. This feeling of not belonging is very common, and it is often followed by suicidal thoughts that push a person even deeper into their addiction, providing them with an illusion of comfort and happiness. For example, a person who consumes heroin to divert their attention away from their problems will often use their heroin addiction to justify their position in life, perceiving this substance abuse as a helpful tool. However, that can’t be further from the truth, as addiction is detrimental to someone’s physical and mental health, especially when it comes to such harmful substances. But the sooner you notice the symptoms, the easier it will be to reverse the damage caused by substance abuse.
- Using love and compassion
When trying to help someone who is struggling with substance use disorder, the approach you choose to take towards them can be a deciding factor in your relationship, as well as the way they perceive you. By adopting the right attitude, you can get closer to your loved one and earn their trust, helping their path to recovery go more smoothly and easily. Being compassionate and having the ability to understand what your loved one is going through will build trust and strengthen the bond between you, which plays a crucial role in the recovery process and it provides the positive support your loved one desperately needs in a time like this. So, be honest with them and try to understand what they are going through, respect their privacy and never be judgmental or controlling, as that will only push them further away.
Helping someone realize they have a problem with substance abuse can be very difficult, especially when the person doesn’t even want to admit it to themselves. They may not want to change their lifestyle, thinking that what they are doing is actually beneficial for them, thus paralyzing themselves from making any positive changes until they start to see serious consequences of their choices. However, as much as that situation might make you angry and upset, using shame and guilt as a way of changing your loved one’s behavior will only push them further away, creating more distance between you. Instead, encourage your loved one to get back on track and take control of their life by being present, interested, empathetic and supportive. Only by recognizing their struggle will you be able to show them how much you love and care for them, motivating them to turn their life around.
While each situation is completely unique, the above mentioned guidelines will help you efficiently approach the task of helping your loved one overcome addiction and their substance use disorder and get back on the path towards health and happiness.