man clasping hands together in front of face who looks nervous

How to Help Someone Struggling with Addiction

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Addiction is a long journey that can be draining and overwhelming. Watching someone, especially someone who you care about, battle their addiction is also hard to navigate. 

You don’t want to ignore the situation, but you also can’t fix their problem for them. Luckily, with the right treatment and support, it’s something that they can recover from. Here are tips to consider while you assist someone who is struggling. 

Learn about Substance Addiction

Addiction can mean different things for different people and present in a variety of ways. Symptoms of addiction can be behavioral, physical, and social. 

Behavioral symptoms include mood swings; irritability; isolation; withdrawal; and loss of interest in hobbies, school, or work. They may also include lack of concern for themselves and their appearance. They may demonstrate risky behavior and neglect daily responsibilities.

Physical symptoms may include bloodshot eyes, irregular pupil size, sweating, tremors, and slurred speech. There may also be a sudden, significant weight loss due to substance use.

Social symptoms include becoming isolated, being surrounded by substance paraphernalia, having financial difficulties, especially when there is no other explanation for money issues, and potentially legal issues. 

The more you know, the easier it will be for you to identify the problem and support the person struggling. Aside from symptoms, it can be helpful to research intervention methods and options available as possible resources.

Don’t Use Love Against Them

When you’re close with the person who is struggling with addiction, you may find yourself in a space to have more intimate conversations. You need to be careful how you approach the conversation and how you word your concern. 

Avoid making statements like, “If you care about me, you’ll quit.” These types of statements are not effective and can actually be more damaging in the long run. You want to express your concern in a supportive manner and reassure them that you’re in their corner. 

man clasping hands together in front of face who looks nervous

Don’t Enable

It’s human nature to want to help and protect your people, especially when they’re struggling. When it comes to addiction, you want to be mindful of your efforts and make sure you’re not enabling their behavior. 

If they’re having a bad day, don’t encourage going out as a stress relief — same with celebrations. You don’t want to encourage risky or bad behavior as a celebratory practice. If finances are an issue, be cautious with your support. Providing material support can be beneficial for seeking treatment, but can also be used to enable their addiction. 

Allow Them to Learn

You never want to see someone fail, especially with addiction matters. It’s normal to want to help, but they do need to be able to conquer this on their own. 

Allow them to develop the skills to say “no” to continued use and open up about their struggles. As they gain more independence in their addiction, they’ll be more able to overcome it. 

Know Recovery is Long

Addiction isn’t always a linear process. There will be ups and downs . . . times that seem easy and some that are extremely trying. The road to recovery could include struggle and relapse. 

Research shows that two out of three people are likely to relapse during the first year of recovery. A relapse doesn’t indicate failure, only that treatment approaches may need to be modified. It’s a dynamic, lifelong process. 

Take Care of Yourself

Addiction can impact the person who is struggling, but also those close to them. You want to help them more than most things. But just like the airplane spiel, you need to put your oxygen mask on first. 

In order to effectively help them, you need to make sure you take care of yourself too. Remember to do your self-care, take time to yourself away from the situation, and keep yourself healthy. 

Do you know someone who is struggling with addiction? Contact us today to learn about somatic therapy and how we can help one or both of you.  

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