Learn About Addiction
In order to help someone with an addiction, you need to be able to effectively communicate with them and to do that, it’s imperative that you have a good grasp of their situation. Educating yourself about addiction is essential if you wish to help someone stop their addiction, and you can start by doing a few simple things.
Firstly, you can learn about where someone’s addiction may be coming from as well as understanding the sort of withdrawal symptoms they experience when they try to stop using certain substances. This allows you to empathize with the person and makes it much easier for them to open up and talk to you.
In addition to learning about addiction itself, you should also seek to understand more about addiction treatment help. Having this knowledge will make you much more confident to approach the person you are trying to help, which ultimately makes you more trustworthy. It can be very difficult to introduce the idea of treatment, let alone convince one to partake in it if you are not knowledgeable about it yourself.
Offer Your Support
When it comes to supporting someone with an addiction, first and foremost, you should let them know that you are in their corner. This means avoiding negative confrontation and being judgemental.
Positive Reinforcement Over Negative Reinforcement
It’s important to remember that positive reinforcement works much better than negative reinforcement. This is true for pretty much all sorts of human interactions. Positively reinforcing desirable behaviors, such as rewarding continued sobriety, plays a big role in healing an addiction while maintaining a positive relationship with the person you’re helping.
Conversely, negatively reinforcing undesirable behaviors, such as punishing drug use may reduce it somewhat, but it can only do so because the person being punished will want to avoid future punishment. Not only can this cause resentment to build and damage your relationship with the person, but it’s also not helpful for long-term sobriety either. In order to conquer an addiction, one must fully understand and accept their addiction and why they need to fix it. Doing something (or not doing something) just to avoid punishment from a third party does not help to achieve this goal.
Reintroducing the Idea of Professional Addiction Treatment
Once you are more confident that you understand someone’s situation and that you are prepared to explain how addiction treatment can help them, you can introduce the idea and answer any concerns they may have. This is where educating yourself about addiction will really pay off.
Don’t Fuel Their Addiction
Even if drug addiction is not on the books for the person in the near future, that does not mean that you cannot help them right away. In the meantime, at the very least, you can ensure that you are not fostering their addiction through enabling.
As is the case with many people trying to help someone with an addiction, you may not realize that you are enabling their addiction because you may think that you are helping them. However, there are various subtle ways that you may be enabling an addiction without knowing that you are.
Firstly, if you are allowing an addict to offload their responsibilities onto you, you are enabling them to continue their drug use without facing their due consequences. By not allowing someone to face their consequences, you are greatly harming them. It can be hard for an addict to accept that they are addicted or to see the harm in their addiction if they cannot see the negative outcomes that are directly related to it.
Secondly, if you find yourself justifying or defending someone’s drug use to make them feel better, this can only serve to reinforce their drug use. In fact, this can give them the impression that they are not addicted, and that they are actually in control of their usage. The short-term benefit of making them feel better pales in comparison to the long-term damage that this does to their perspective on their drug use.
Lastly, financially supporting a drug addict is another way of offloading their responsibilities onto yourself, especially if you are funding their entire life. Once again, one cannot gauge the damage of their actions if they are consistently protected from consequences. Although this may sound similar to the previous point about offloading responsibilities, it comes with an additional significant point. Which is that denial is often the root of many enabling behaviors. Funding an addict’s life and pretending not to know that a substantial amount of their money will fund their addiction is very damaging.
Non-Subtle Enabling Behaviors
There are of course a variety of behaviors that should immediately be stopped if you wish to help someone to stop their addiction. For instance, directly funding someone’s drug use, as opposed to indirectly funding it is an obvious thing to avoid. Additionally, even if you are not addicted yourself, partaking in drug use with someone who is addicted, will only serve to normalize the behavior and decrease your credibility when it comes to talking about addiction and treatment.