Drug Addict Friend

As difficult as it is for someone to personally suffer from a drug addiction, the experience can also be devastating for a drug abuser’s family members. In addition to watching a loved one go through the physical and emotional effects of addiction, family members of a drug addict may also encounter:

  • Emotional guilt
  • Constant worrying
  • Isolation
  • Anger
  • Neglect
  • Financial issues
  • Grief

Whether someone is dealing with a parent, child, sibling or other relative who suffers from a drug addiction, it can also be difficult to know exactly how to handle the issue. While every situation is unique and should be addressed on an individual basis, there are some essential steps family members can take to help them deal with the drug addiction of a loved one.

Learn About Addiction

Concerned family members should always learn about the nature of their loved ones’ addiction so they help make informed decisions about courses of treatment or other issues. While it’s useful to learn about the exact type of addiction – whether it involves cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin – it’s also important to understand some of the common myths surrounding addiction. These misconceptions include the following:

  • Addiction can be overcome with will power
  • Only certain types of people suffer from addiction
  • A drug addict needs to hit rock bottom before getting help
  • All treatment methods are the same

If there are multiple family members who are dealing with a loved one’s addiction, it’s good idea to set aside time for everyone to learn about the subject of addiction. Dispelling some of these myths can give family members a better understanding of what their loved one is going through and give them the knowledge that allows them to offer useful support instead of judgment or condemnation.

Avoid Enabling The Drug Addict

When a person is dealing with the addiction of a family member they care for deeply, it may feel natural to engage in behavior that actually harms a drug abuser. “Enabling” is a common term for this type of behavior. According to the Keep Kids Drug Free Foundation, Inc., enabling can encompass many types of behavior that family members typically perform for one another.

Enablers may consistently help drug abusers get out of trouble by lying, covering their tracks or helping them get out of dire financial situations. In some cases, enablers may also commiserate alongside drug abusers and join them in blaming their problems on others. On the other hand, an enabler’s lack of action can also cause harm. For example, when an enabler avoids talking about the addiction or pretends that it doesn’t exist, it may cause everyone to downplay the severity of the addiction.

Regardless of what the specific enabling behaviors entail, they generally make it more comfortable and easy for a drug abuser to continue using. Even worse, these behaviors can actually get in the way of an abuser’s willingness to begin treatment.

Take Care of Yourself

The family members of a drug addict may devote countless hours to trying to help a loved one with a drug problem. And while this may not take a toll at first, over the long term it can put serious emotional strain on a person. While it’s tempting for family members to put their personal health and well being on the back-burner, they can actually offer more effective support when they are healthy and well adjusted.

Family members should avoid skipping their own personal commitments, hobbies and any activities that they enjoy. Missing out on these events could cause bitterness and long-term feelings of resentment. In addition to keeping up with normal engagements, all family members should communicate regularly and check up on each other to ensure that nobody feels neglected or overshadowed by the family member with the drug issue.

For some people, individual or group therapy sessions may be appropriate, even if the person with the addiction problem isn’t interested in attending. Because family members go through so many of their own struggles, they can benefit from having dedicated support for their unique emotions.

Seek Professional Rehabilitation Options

When drug abusers are unwilling to find treatment options on their own, family members can step in and take the reins. Even drug abusers who do want help may initially be intimidated or frightened about seeking out rehabilitation options, so a family member can offer valuable support.

Professional help from a rehabilitation center is often the very best way to ensure that a person not only gets clean, but remains drug-free over the long term. While many people believe that drug rehabilitation centers are all the same, the truth is that each facility offers a unique environment and a slightly different overall treatment approach. For some people, it may be useful to be close to home in a familiar location, while other recovering drug abusers may do best if they are away from familiar triggers. Some recovering abusers might have an easier time recovering while on a highly structured schedule and others might have a better path to recovery if they are allowed more freedom.

In addition to these differences, individual facilities also provide various types of rehabilitation programs, including:

  • 12-step programs
  • Faith-Based Treatment
  • Medically Supervised Detox
  • Individual Counseling
  • Aftercare Treatment
  • Group Counseling
  • Holistic Treatment

Not every facility is right for each person, so if family members help select treatment options they should remember that the right fit can make all the difference in a person’s ultimate success.

Consider An Intervention

Many family members are unsure about when and how to approach a drug addict about getting help. In some cases an intervention could be the best method for creating a focused and heartfelt plea for a loved one to seek treatment.

An intervention is a meeting consisting of a drug abuser as well as family members and friends. During an intervention the abuser’s loved ones typically explain how they’ve been affected by the destructive behaviors that the drug abuser has been committing. While this aspect of an intervention may seem difficult at first, it can be helpful for drug abusers who are in denial about the widespread effects of their substance use.

It’s also important to provide a solution during the interventions. Family members and friends will need to agree on a treatment plan before they begin. After explaining how they’ve been affected by the drug abuse, they can offer up the plan and share the exact steps they think the drug abuser should take.

Stand Your Ground

The family members and friends should explain what will happen if the drug addict doesn’t opt to follow the plan of recovery that everyone has laid out. This may include cutting the person off financially or eliminating contact. While family members can carry out interventions on their own, they may have a better chance at success if they consult with a professional or have a professional present.

While these steps can be highly effective, both for the health of a drug addict and family members, there is no single path to success. The good news is that these steps – along with other individual approaches – can help family members cope with an addiction and give them the tools to encourage their loved one’s journey toward recovery.

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