Knowing that your child, spouse or close friend is addicted to drugs is very devastating. While you may want to help and reach out, you find yourself conflicted and confused. Perhaps you don’t know how to approach the drug addict or you are just afraid to do so. One thing is certain, however: You can’t just sit by and watch the person you care about waste his life to drugs.
Here are some guidelines to follow when trying to help a loved one suffering from any form of substance abuse or addiction:
- Ask the addict what he is up to if only to confirm your suspicions. Some will deny, others will get angry while others will just laugh off your concern. There are those who will tell you the truth about their addiction and will just say that they are not going to be hurt by it.
- Offer your support. Tell the person that you are there to listen to him.
- Convince your loved one to get treatment. If the dependency continues, don’t wait for the person to waste his life away before getting help. Make him see reason and persuade him to seek intervention. If he doesn’t and continues in his ways, it’s time to bring him to a drug rehab facility by force.
- Take care of your own health and safety. If your child or spouse is the one addicted, all your attention might be focused on them and their welfare. However, you have to remember that you should not take your health and safety for granted. Surround yourself with people you can trust and if you feel the need to, vent out your frustration to them. Continue to eat nutritious food and stay at the top of your game at work. You will be in a much better position to help your loved ones if you don’t need help yourself.
- Let the addict feel that he is responsible for the consequences of his actions. You might be tempted to blame yourself for your loved one’s addiction. Avoid this. Rather, always remember that a drug addict has a choice to say no. If he blames you for all the withdrawal symptoms he is experiencing at the detox facility, remind him that these are consequences of his drug use.
- Threaten with punishment or bribe the drug addict to stop taking drugs. A person who is addicted to drugs will always find a way to use the substance no matter what you say. Remember that drug addiction is a brain disorder that needs treatment so threats or bribes won’t make a difference.
- Protect the user from the consequences of his actions. The drug addict needs to understand that there are consequences to drug use. Shielding him from the negative effects is only going to encourage the behavior.
- Shoulder his tasks and responsibilities. If you work in the same office and are friends, don’t take over his tasks just to save him from the ire of the boss. This will only make him feel that he is worthless and useless. He has to feel that he still has a purpose so he will strive to break free from the addiction.
- Fight with the person who is using drugs. If your loved one is high on drugs, he is on an altered state of mind. He might even grow violent if you confront him at this point and put yourself in danger.
- Join him in his drug use. Showing your support to a loved one addicted to drugs does not mean going as far as taking drugs with him. Drug use can creep up on you unawares and you will eventually end up needing help yourself.