Helping a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction can be overwhelming. The natural instinct for families and friends is to immediately help in any way they can, which could lead to bigger issues like enabling. It may be a difficult task just to figure out where or how you should begin.
First, you have to help yourself. As an example, when you’re on a plane and the oxygen masks come down, you’re supposed to put the mask on first before you help others. Without you being whole and healthy, it’s impossible for you to help someone else.
Friends and Families of Those in Addiction
Friends and family have to get connected to their own support network. There are support groups and meetings all over the country. Al-anon, Ala-teen, Nar-Anon, ACA (adult children of alcoholics), CODA (codependents anonymous). There is no replacement for you going to these groups and getting support and suggestions. These are people in the same boat, people just like you, dealing with the same issues. Some of these groups even use the 12-step method to help you deal with your alcoholic or addicted loved one.
If you only speak with other friends and family for support, you may just be repeating the same mistakes that got someone addicted. You are actively changing the dynamic by getting another outside viewpoint. Also, education on addiction just might be the game changer. Why repeat old patterns that were less than successful, when a fresh approach— with new eyes,- could be the answer?
What Can You Do For Your Friend In Addiction?
- Assist in Finding Treatment
- Offer Transportation
- Help With Employment and Shelter
- Support a Healthy Lifestyle Only
- Be There
- Be Proactive, Hold Them Accountable
Help your friend find a good, reputable, successful treatment program. Many times, the addict is just too high or out of it to find a good program. So, help them make the first step.
Why not offer transportation to treatment or meetings? Most of us can give a friend a ride or Uber/Lyft them to treatment center or a 12-step meeting. It’s not a small gesture when you’re down and out, friendless and broke. It could mean the world to an addict. It shows you care and support them.
Once they’re sober, help them find a job and a place to live. People newly sober may have a scattered resume with big stretches of time without legitimate work.
Help them get back on their feet, earning their own way. Homelessness and temporary homelessness affect at least half of people in recovery. The stability of having a place to rest your head every night is a lifesaver. The anxiety of not knowing you have a roof over your head tonight can be too overwhelming for most people.
People, places and things. Be encouraging of addicts and alcoholics staying away from the people they drank or used with, the places they drank or used and the things they did why drunk and high. How many times can they go back to the same bar sober and expect not to drink? How many times can they hang out with people in active addiction and alcoholism and expect to stay sober? The truth is, for a while, they can’t be with their drinking buddies, their using buddies. They should avoid their triggers.
Just spend some time with them. Show you care and support them. It can be a deep emotional conversation, or you can just watch the game together or go get coffee.
If they relapse, get them help and support as quickly as possible. No need to judge or get emotional. Just get them back into treatment, get them to a meeting, get them started on the road to wellness again.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to us. Our addiction specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 877-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Because We Care.