As experts point out, “Addiction is tricky and calculating, and it’s the only disease that can take more than one person down with it, if it is left unchallenged. Addiction dramatically alters the lives of not just the addicted person, but of everyone within his or her vicinity, namely family and friends.” Yet it can be difficult to confront someone you love when you believe they are suffering with an addiction; no one wants to challenge a relationship or bring stress into their own lives. It’s important to talk to your loved one, however, to let them know you’re there to help. Leaving guilt or blame at the door is the best way to begin, because often, a person who is addicted to a substance already feels those things. They can feed the addiction cycle, making it harder to break, and taking a toll on the individual’s self-esteem.
If you feel a friend or loved one is suffering through an addiction, it’s important to start with a good plan before making any decisions or having any conversations. You’ll need to understand exactly what addiction is, how it affects an individual, and what the warning signs and symptoms are.
Here are a few of the best tips on how to help a loved one get through addiction treatment.
Do some research
It’s imperative to know as much as possible about addiction before talking to your loved one. Knowing about the different types of addiction, how they affect everyone differently, and what the symptoms are will help you figure out the right way to begin a conversation while avoiding using statements that might incite an argument or defensiveness.
Look for options
Being knowledgeable about all the treatment options available for your loved one is important, because it will help them feel like they have some space. No one wants to feel boxed into a corner, especially when it comes to finding treatment for addiction. There are many different types of treatment and no one type will work for everyone, so having choices is helpful. It’s also a great way to help address co-occurring disorders, such as alcoholism and depression, since many individuals who are living with an addiction are also battling undiagnosed mental health issues.
Know the facts
Sometimes, the symptoms of addiction can mimic those of a mental health disorder, and vice versa, so it’s important to know all the facts before having a conversation. Some of the most common signs that a person is struggling with an addiction include:
- Poor personal hygiene
- Sudden issues at work or school
- Changes in sleep or eating habits
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Glassy eyes
- Emotional disconnection
- Withdrawing from friends and family
Don’t use ‘you’ statements
Talking to your loved one about their addiction can be hard on both of you, so it’s a good idea not to put any unnecessary stress on the situation. Using “I” statements rather than “you” statements will keep the conversation directed toward the issue instead of creating a blame game. Let your loved one know that you’re there for them and that you can’t imagine what they’re going through.
Helping a loved one get through an addiction can be stressful, and it can be a long road for the both of you. Finding a healthy way to address it and find treatment is the first step; being patient and loving is the second. Start with a good plan of support and go from there.