How to Help a Drug Addict
Substance use disorder is a serious problem that can affect all facets of drug users’ lives, including their friendships. It can be incredibly stressful to care for an addict, whether in a romantic capacity or as a friend or relative. While no one but the addict him- or herself can choose to stop using drugs, there are a few things loved ones can do to help.
Learn the Signs
People who are using drugs or abusing alcohol sometimes try to hide their problems or the extent of their problems, and may not be willing to talk about them outright. Their loved ones should learn to identify the signs of addiction so they can know when to offer help. Here’s what to look for:
- sudden behavioral changes
- lack of attention to personal grooming
- neglect of responsibilities
- sudden loss off interest in favorite activities
- sudden weight loss or gain
- bloodshot eyes
- impaired coordination
- presence of drug paraphernalia like spoons and syringes, baggies, pipes, or burnt foil
Trust is a two-way street and unfortunately, drug addiction can quickly erode trust even between good friends. Addicts often lie about their problems and may treat their loved ones poorly in attempts to push them away. Try to understand that the person is struggling with a serious disorder that has changed the way he or she thinks and exercise compassion instead of judgment.
Try to keep the other person’s perspective in mind. He or she may not understand that it’s time to seek help and may feel controlled or looked down upon, and these negative feelings only add further fuel to the fire of addiction. Be direct and don’t lie about the problem, but avoid lecturing, criticizing, and name-calling when discussing substance use and remain as calm as possible.
Talk About Concerns
Many drug users are unaware of the detrimental effects that their substances of choice are having on their own lives and the lives of those who care about them. Instead of making generalizations about substance use disorders, come up with specific examples of how drug use is hurting the relationship. Many give little thought to their own health and the consequences of their drug use, but those who have retained close relationships with friends or family members may be motivated by the knowledge that those they love are suffering as a result of their addictions.
Since many consumers use drugs to deal with stress, it can help to focus on positive goals. Make sure to acknowledge and support achievements and don’t abandon a loved one when he or she is unable to turn things around immediately. Most addicts have to quit using substances multiple times before they give them up for good but having healthy relationships, coping mechanisms, and alternative activities in place can make it easier.
Get Professional Help
The most important thing to remember is that drug addiction is a serious disorder that requires specialized care. While having the help and support of loved ones can make it easier for addicts to decide to give up their substances of choice, it almost always takes professional help for them to actually stop using. Find a drug rehab in Portsmouth that can help.
The Bottom Line
Substance use disorders ruin lives and friendships. Don’t take things personally. Instead, focus on staying calm and compassionate, offering support for positive behaviors, and encouraging loved ones to seek the help they need to recover.