There’s nothing more devastating for a parent, sibling, lover, or friend than to watch the person you love and adore struggle with a substance addiction. An addict or alcoholic is powerless against a biological and chemical mechanism that seems to be ruining their life one day at a time. It’s awful to stand by and witness this slow train wreck without the ability to truly affect the outcome in any direct way. While this is difficult to digest, given that real addiction recovery is only possible if the addict makes the choice to get clean, we can still be supportive to our loved ones who are wandering in the lonely valley of addiction.
Just Be There to Talk
For someone who has never had to go through an active addiction, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to connect to the person in your life who is suffering. The best thing you can do for your addicted loved one is to be a positive, inspirational presence in his or her life. Often an addict is struggling with substance abuse as a way to cope with inner trauma or pain. They are either self-medicating for pain or they are attempting to escape a reality that is unpleasant or uncomfortable. The primary alternative to drugs in these situations is a loving, supportive friend who will listen and share the struggle.
Sometimes all it takes is staying up late to talk through the night without any alcohol or drugs. Having a friend to lean on is better than a bottle of anything, hands down, but often that doesn’t seem possible or within reach for an addict. If you can make an honest, no-strings attempt to care about their struggle and listen to their experience, you may find a whole world of opportunity open up for helping and supporting your loved one’s recovery.
Offer Help but Don’t Enable Addiction
While you are offering your presence and listening to the addict’s struggle, you will be tempted to help them in many ways. This level of support is a true blessing for someone who is sitting at rock bottom and wondering how to get out. Maybe it means doing some healthy grocery shopping or picking up the house. These are helpful things you can do to support a friend who is in the dumps, but be very careful not to cross the line into enabling.
Enabling an addict is when you shield them from consequences or otherwise make it easy for them to pursue their addiction. This can be a parent footing the bill for someone who is spending his money on drugs, or continually cleaning up a mess or lying to protect him. You can be there to support your loved one’s daily life if it means helping them cope with the low point in their life. However, make sure you aren’t contributing to the addiction by covering up faults or making it easy to use.
If you have questions about addiction and want information on how you can help a struggling addict or alcoholic in your life, contact Hired Power’s 24/7 help line at 800-910-9299 to schedule a meeting with a professional addiction counselor.
It’s never too late to fight addiction.