From drugs to pornography, addiction is a serious medical condition that destroys a person physically, emotionally, and socially. Oftentimes, it’s the person’s family that’s most affected by the condition.
While it has the potential to cause rifts in relationships, it doesn’t mean recovery is impossible. According to an article on StatNews.com, one in every 10 people in the United States has overcome a certain form of addiction.
Family members play an important role in helping someone with addiction problems. If you have a loved one who is battling an addiction that’s affecting their lives, this guide is for you.
Understanding the Nature of Addiction
Before we get to the practical steps to helping someone recover from addiction, it’s important how it develops. Being the very people who belong to a patient’s inner circle, family members will need to understand how addictions are formed.
Addictions do not develop in a vacuum. There are various factors that allow them to form. In an article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the level of risk to addiction depends on an individual’s genetic makeup. The person’s social environment can also play an important role.
Whichever the case, family members should approach addiction as a mental health condition. People who battle this condition are often the subject of stigma which also makes clinical treatment impossible for the individual. It also pays to know that addiction patients have had personal issues that led them to adopt destructive habits.
The sooner you realize that addiction is not the result of a person’s conscious choice, the more effective you are in helping a loved one recover. Once you have acknowledged the actual nature of an addiction, you can now use these tips in leading your loved one to the path of recovery.
1. Make Your Move as Soon as Possible
An addiction can affect an individual in various ways. Alcohol abuse, for instance, increases the risk of liver disease and digestive problems. Gambling addiction also has physical effects. People who spend most of their time gambling are more likely to skip meals.
It’s best not to wait before the problem becomes worse. The person may resort to deviant behavior to satisfy their addictions. They can get arrested or, worse, harm other people. Reaching out as soon as possible not only prevents them from harming themselves but also avoids injury and property damage.
If you notice that your loved one is acting hostile to you and to others, don’t delay. Talk to them about their condition and show them how concerned you are about their lifestyle and well-being.
2. Wait Until They are Clear-Headed
Although you need to intervene immediately to stop a loved one from harming themselves and others, it’s still important to wait for the right moment when you can sit down with them. They may not be in the mood to start a conversation, so make sure to pick the right time and place.
This depends entirely on the state of the person as well as the nature of their addiction. If a family member is addicted to heroin, you might want to wait until they are in the right state of mind. If they are high or drunk, it could be difficult to have a reasonable conversation with them. There is also the risk that they become violent.
With the intent to reach out to them, you need to know when and where would be the best time to talk to them about their problem. A good strategy is to send them a private message that doesn’t mention their addiction. Tell them that you just want to talk about something in private. Let them pick the best place to have this conversation. Anywhere that’s peaceful is ideal so the person can focus on the topic.
3. Communicate How You Feel
In most cases, people who suffer from addiction are not aware of the physical and mental toll that it’s causing. They might even deny this condition and lash out at you for bringing it up. If that’s the case, you can reframe the conversation to focus more on how they are affecting the people that love and care for them.
Instead of talking down on a loved one, it would be better if you let them know how their addiction is affecting your relationship with them. Communicating your concern will help them realize that they have gone far down in their addiction. It also helps them become self-aware and nudge them closer to getting treated.
This may take a long time, but letting the person know how you feel about their problem opens up the opportunity to talk about their addiction in-depth. Be patient and stay calm. Do not put them on the hot seat. Instead, you will want to express how willing you are to help them recover.
4. Form a Support Group
If the addiction is too severe, you might want to gather other members of the family and create a support group. Handling the problem yourself can be mentally and physically challenging, so you will need backup from siblings, parents, and even cousins who can talk to the person about getting treatment.
In addition, you can also reach out to the person’s circle of friends and colleagues. You just need to make sure that you can trust these people who could play an active role during and after the recovery process.
Getting more people involved in the intervention can offload much of the emotional baggage you will be carrying as you try to reach out. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, especially from the people who are closest to the person and who are not aware of the problem.
5. Discuss Possible Treatment Options
As the person starts on the road to recovery, work closely with them in finding treatment. This could be a challenge since the person might feel ashamed about their addiction. Let them know that it’s going to be okay and that undergoing treatment is for their own good. You just have to take their needs into account and look for treatment options that lead towards a full recovery.
It helps if you can take them to a licensed therapist in your community. The right professional can help with developing a recovery plan catered to the needs of the person. If your family member is battling alcoholism and drug addiction, they could also enter into a substance abuse recovery program. If this is the step you will be taking, you can look for a drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility within or around your community.
Make sure to involve the person in helping them find a solution to their addiction problem. You can also ask for suggestions from other family members. As you place all options on the table, pick one that’s the most effective.
6. Stay Involved in the Long Run
As the person continues on the path to recovery, you will need to cooperate with their therapist in making sure that they are following the recovery program. It’s important to know that there’s always the risk of a relapse, so it matters a lot to help them adjust to their post-recovery life.
For this, take part in the activities that they are doing and make sure to follow up on them. Spending quality time is also a great way to help them embrace their newfound freedom.
Addiction is a serious mental condition, but it’s not a dead-end for a family member who is suffering from it. With these tips in mind, you will be able to help a loved one on the path to a renewed life.
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