It feels like being lost in the wilderness.
The life of a loved one being thrown into turmoil – a son, daughter, aunt, uncle, mother, father, best friend – also throws your life into disarray.
That stability you took for granted all of a sudden shattered by the realization that addiction is in some ways a shared trauma.
If you can get your friend or family member back on track it’s like getting everyone back on track.
But how? How to help someone with an addiction? What can you tangibly do to affect change?
Be Compassionate, Supportive and Understanding
Addiction is a brain disorder, a disease.
Anger doesn’t change it. Nor does criticism, intimidation, pressure or any other type of overwhelmingly negative response. Much like you wouldn’t blame someone for contracting cancer, rendering condemnation for a person’s substance abuse is not just fruitless, it’s potentially worse.
It’s worse because, as a chronic brain disorder, addiction isn’t static, it’s reactive. Cancer is unregulated cell growth, yelling at cancer won’t change it. Yelling at an addict and being confrontational or argumentative can have a real and adverse effect, creating boundaries & walls and perhaps even driving them to use more.
That’s why it’s imperative to lead with compassion and be supportive. That doesn’t mean being an enabler though, there is such a thing as tough love after all.
At the core of it is understanding that addiction is a disease.
What helps build and nurture that understanding is education.
Addiction isn’t something that you’re born with a knowledge of and that’s ok. To be honest, the fewer people that have direct touchpoints with substance use disorders, the better.
Until we can get to that point though, when it does enter your life, learning as much as possible will not only help you deal with it much better internally, for yourself, but it’ll also give you the ability to truly be there for your loved one.
Knowledge is power as they say and getting educated on addiction and the nature of it will make it easier for you to guide them towards the light of professional assistance.
Stage an Intervention
An intervention is a powerful tool – the tipping point – in finally getting someone the treatment they need for their substance use disorder. The idea is essentially to turn a mirror to how their addiction is not only tearing their own life apart but also showing them the havoc it’s creating in the lives of the people they love.
Importantly, an intervention is not something you should cobble together on your own. It’s an extremely delicate affair and doing it correctly is crucial to increasing the likelihood of it succeeding, therefore working with a dedicated interventionist is a must.
An intervention specialist will guide you through the entire process, everything from giving direction on whom to include in the group to helping you prepare what to say and, crucially, determining specific consequences and ultimatums for if they refuse treatment.
Secrecy is of course paramount for executing an intervention because if your loved one gets wind of what’s about to happen, they may not show up, they’ll get defensive or have any number of reactions that could destroy the effort before it even starts.
Look Up Different Rehabs
A natural byproduct of all the above is that you’ll find yourself becoming something of an expert on rehab facilities, especially once you get to the stage of planning an intervention. Why? Because if you’re loved one agrees to treatment and you haven’t organized the where and when of it, that’s no good.
Finding the right rehab is all about understanding their addiction and getting educated, both things you’re already doing. The more you know about the specific substance use disorder they’re dealing the more you can home in on the right treatment center for their needs.
Whether it’s inpatient care, partial day program, intensive outpatient care or standard outpatient rehab, finding the right place for your loved one makes a big difference.
If you’re looking for more ways you can help someone with addiction or want to learn more about Multi Concept Recovery, reach out to us, we’d love to help.