Almost every addict will go through a period where they have no doubt that their drinking or drug addiction is under control when it’s not. Just like the smoker who insists that they can quit at any time, those who are addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol often assume that they can stop whenever they choose to. They feel like they have their drug use under control and insist that when they choose to stop they’ll be able to without a problem. To them, it’s simply that they choose not to quit, no big deal.
As a friend or family member, we may have seen many times that their use is out of control and causing problems at home, work, or both. Watching someone destroy their life and not being able to do anything about it is beyond frustrating, and can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless. How do you help a loved one see that they need help without pushing them away?
Don’t enable them.
Sometimes we support destructive behaviors without even realizing it. If the addict in your life has run into financial or legal trouble due to their drug or alcohol use, you may think that by helping them we are doing the right thing, but often times it helps them to stay in denial. Don’t pay their legal fees, or give them money to pay off debts. By staying out of it, you’re not neglecting them, but helping them to realize just some of the problems that their substance abuse causes. If you find that you are often bailing your loved one out of trouble, you may be in a codependent relationship. If this is the case, it’s important to seek help for both of you.
Write things down.
If the addict is convinced that their drinking or drug use isn’t an issue, start keeping track of all of the problems caused by their habits. If they often miss work when they’re not sober, write down the dates of each day they’ve missed work. If they insist that they don’t drink or use as often as they really do, log each day that they do. Be as specific as you can about certain events. Being able to see a pattern in their destructive behavior may be just what they need to realize that they do have a problem.
Don’t neglect yourself.
Actor Robert Downey Jr., a recovering drug addict, says this to Vanity Fair about helping someone with a drug problem. “Can you help someone get out of those woods? Yes, you can. By not getting lost looking for them.” It’s easy to lose ourselves in an effort to help an addict that we love, but you’re not helping anyone by doing so. We may start spending all of our time watching over our loved one and finding ways to help them, but by doing this it’s easy to stop tending to our own needs. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of someone else, if not more so. If you aren’t in good health mentally, you won’t be much good to anyone else.
Choosing when to confront the addict or alcoholic.
Finding the right time to talk to a loved one about seeking help can be tricky. It is usually best to consult with an addictions’ professional or counselor that has experience with these kinds of situations. Attempting to “go at it” alone is never a good idea. An addictions professional can give you suggests and/or recommendations in what to say, how to say it, and how to handle negative outcomes. Some things they would certainly recommend would be: Don’t confront your loved one when they are drunk, high, or agitated, or when you’re agitated yourself. It’s best if you can plan out what you’re going to say ahead of time, rather than flying off the cuff.
Avoid placing blame on them, and try not to say things like “You always…” or “You never…” Instead, let them know how their habits affect you. For example, you can say something like “When you drink and get angry it makes me feel…” Try to use “I”, rather than “you.” For instance, “I noticed..” “I feel..” Try to be patient and understanding, and always ask about how they feel about certain things. Try to ask open-ended questions rather than closed questions that only require a yes or no response. Talk about the negative effects their addiction has on specific areas of their life, such as work or time at home. Remind them that you’re only concerned for their well-being and want what’s best for them.
Let them know that you’re there for them.
Even if the addict isn’t ready to accept help now, make it clear that when they do decide to seek help, you’ll be there every step of the way. For them, the thought of leaving their lifestyle behind and embarking on this new journey can be scary. Knowing that they have someone who will be with them and support them is a huge comfort. Remember, there is nothing you can say that will make someone stop using and change. All that you can do is be there for them in a healthy and supportive way, and show them that you care. The decision to get sober has to come from them.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or alcoholism, we can help. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has provided quality treatment to the chemically dependent person. Furthermore, we believe strongly in the healing of the whole family. While the alcoholic or addict is in treatment, you will have the opportunity to take part in our Family Educational Program, where you will be educated on the disease of addiction and gain the support necessary to heal as well.
If you or a loved one is in need of help, please do not wait any longer. Contact our Admissions Specialists today and get on the road to recovery.