5 Concrete Ways to Help Someone You Love Who Struggles With Addiction

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When someone you love suffers from addiction to drugs or alcohol, you might be unsure how to help them. At The Detox Center of Colorado, we have five concrete ways to make a difference in the life of someone you love who deserves support and recovery. Whether they are still in the grips of addiction or preparing to enter treatment, you can make a difference.

1. Ask Your Loved One to Talk About How They’re Feeling

A common complaint from those who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction is how those around them don’t understand. Parents, partners, friends, and others often assume they know how the experience of addiction feels. Sit down with the person you want to help and ask them some questions:

  • What is the scariest part of experiencing your addiction?
  • Who helps you feel like you can conquer this?
  • Who feels like they keep you rooted in addiction?
  • Do you feel like you can turn this all around?
  • What first step can you take to get help?
  • How can I help you choose recovery?

Be prepared to listen to their answers. They may put to rest incorrect assumptions you had. When your loved ones feel heard, they are more likely to feel safe coming to you for help. Let them know your door remains open for any future talks.

2. Educate Yourself About Their Illness

There are many misconceptions and incorrect assumptions about addiction. Do your research to find out exactly what the person you love is up against. Search engines provide a plethora of articles and information. You can also talk to a doctor, therapist, or addiction specialist to brainstorm ways to help someone. When you are well-informed about the topic of addiction and recovery, your loved one may be more likely to listen to you. Let them know what you’ve learned. Offer assistance in meeting with a treatment professional to assess their options.

Even if the person acts reluctant to seek help, continue your education by seeking out support groups for yourself. Many programs can help you hang in there while your loved one is still sick. They can also provide guidance once your loved one enters detoxification and treatment.

3. Use Kind Language When Talking to Them

The language of addiction has changed over time. Terms like “addict” and “junkie” typically only stigmatize a person. The treatment community has learned a great deal about the illness of addiction, including how using less harmful labels can help those struggling. Your loved ones likely already name-call themselves and experience self-blame. Learning to turn that around can spur them towards positive choices.

When you talk to a person experiencing addiction, let them know they have an illness. Knowing they are in the grips of a substance use disorder can help them be more open to treatment. Reframing their condition as something treatable can have a positive impact on their self-esteem.

4. Be Aware of How You Might Be Enabling Them

While a person with a substance use disorder can benefit from knowing they are ill, it doesn’t dismiss their responsibility to choose recovery. Look for ways in which you might be enabling someone you love. Consider the following questions:

  • Do I buy or provide alcohol or drugs for them, believing they need a temporary fix?
  • Do I offer excuses for addiction-related behavior, such as why they didn’t attend an event or acted in a combative manner?
  • Do I cover up for them by hiding details of their addictive behaviors or shifting blame to someone or something else?
  • Have I told them that while they are sick, they are still responsible for the consequences of their actions?

5. Prepare to Help Them When They Leave for Treatment

Often a person considering leaving home for treatment feels overwhelmed by how the process will work. Talk to your loved ones and ask what concerns they have. Help them brainstorm how to tell their boss that they need time off. Offer to provide or procure childcare while they are gone. Make yourself available for household tasks like picking up their mail or caring for their pets. Ask if they would like help with last-minute errands. Offer to do laundry or help pack for their stay at a treatment facility. Load up playlists and photos on an electronic device they are taking with them. Reminders of home and music they love can provide much-needed incentive to do well.

You can also offer to drive them to their treatment program or help them book an airline ticket. Once they are in a residential program, let them know if you can visit. Offer to support their family members and friends remain in contact while they are gone. Emails, phone calls, and good old-fashioned snail mail can mean a lot to people ensconced in a treatment program.

Often the loved ones of those who deal with addiction to drugs and alcohol flounder when trying to help them. Luckily, there are many concrete steps you can take to aid them. Try asking them to talk about their feelings. Educate yourself about their illness. Learn how to speak kindly to them while still expecting them to take responsibility for their actions. When they are ready to leave for treatment, you can offer to help them prepare. The Detox Center of Colorado provides in-person detoxification in a cozy setting among the lush beauty of the Denver area. Our short-term stays prepare you for the next step, which we can help you plan. Along with drug and alcohol addiction, we also treat co-occurring mental health disorders. Our facility can help you with the financial and family obligations your loved one faces. Call us today at (303) 952-5035 to see how we can plan for your loved one’s recovery and good health.

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