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Addiction is a disease that affects one out of eight people in the world. It ranges from light, often healthy addiction such as working out, to moderate ”functional” addictions such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and certain food. Then, there are severe kinds of addictions such as addiction to opiates, hallucinogens, painkillers, and alcohol.

Addictions of this degree often cause grief, sorrow, tribulations, and pain for others. If you are among the millions of people affected by an addict’s behavior, what can you do about it? How do you deal with it? How do you help them fight the monster inside them?

How to Help A Loved One With a Drug Addiction

It can be your friend, lover, spouse or family member. The closer they are to you, the more their behavior affects you and soon enough, it becomes a toxin that slowly degrades your quality of life.

You’ve heard the stories of drunk fathers going home in a fit of rage, terrorizing their family and all they could do was live with it. Other tell of people addicted to drugs who’ve isolated themselves from the family and succumbed to crime, hurting the family’s reputation and dynamic, with members of the family struggling to save and maintain the addict.

The only way to truly help them is to help in quitting. Though the journey to quitting is theirs alone, there are key things you need to do to help them.

  • Educate Yourself

The first step to beating the habit is understanding it. Learn everything you can about addiction, about the effects it has on the user, withdrawal symptoms, rehab programs, and more. Having knowledge prior to acting will help you decide on what to do to help your loved one.

  • Set Boundaries Firmly

If an addict can step into your boundaries without consequence, they will take another step. By the third step, they will won’t recognize the boundary anymore. It may sound too metaphorical, but the point is to set boundaries for your loved one and defend it. If they did something that offends you or stifles you, or plain invades your comfort zones, tell them to stop and push them back to their space.

It will very likely upset them, but you’re making sure that you’re true to your word. Eventually, they will respect that. When they respect your boundaries, they will respect your word, then respect you.

  • Learn the Difference Between Helping and Enabling

Sometimes, we do things for our loved ones out of simple love and compassion. When helping an addicted loved one, certain positive actions can actually cause negative effects, often in the long run. These positive-turned-negative actions are called “enabling,” literally, you’re enabling the addiction, worsening the problem.

Examples of enabling are the following:

  • Helping them with financial problems because their addiction tanked their own.
  • Covering for their behavior and condition, such as lying to their employer or family about their addiction.
  • Giving them rides home after a binge, or taking them to shady places.
  • Caring for them during the aftermath of their substance abuse.

If the examples appear cruel, there’s one general rule: Never give the addict comfort or convenience in anything related to continuing their addiction. Sometimes though, the boundaries between helping and enabling are blurred.

Examples of helping are the following:

  • Listening to them, opening dialogue when they are NOT under the influence
  • Helping them find a program that will help their addiction.
  • Fortify your integrity towards them. Set their boundaries and stick by them.
  • Impose that rehabilitation is the only solution with care and love.
  • Understanding what pushes them to addiction.

Examples of actions that don’t help them are the following:

  • Hiding their stashes and supplies. This will aggravate them and cause them to look for other sources away from you.
  • Criticising them and using shame/guilt tactics. Shame and guilt are double-edged blades, it may push the addict to quit but can equally push them away from it.
  • Confronting them when they are under the influence. If you “ruin” their escape, they will do what they can to defend it, or avoid you.

It’s an intricate process, but as long as you’re mindful of what helps them quit and remain consistent, you’ll see results.

  • Take Care of Yourself

Helping your addicted loved one is already a stressful process. You need to take care of yourself and make healthy choices. Not only will this benefit you, you can act as a role model for your loved one. If they see positive action, they will at least think about copying it. Even better if you have your loved one do the same with you. Take them to exercise with you, cook healthy food and so on.

How to Help Someone With Drug Addiction and Depression

Addiction is often coupled with mental states such as anxiety, aggression, or depression. Often, the addiction is a way for the person to self-medicate. To help someone who is both an addict and suffering from depression, there are a few things you must understand.

  • Depression is a serious illness

Depression is fundamentally different from sadness. You could say that depression is a “willpower disease.” Often, people would dismissively say “snap out of it!” or “Just be happy! It’s easy!” followed by an advice that generally tells them to move on. Symptoms of depression aren’t personal, it’s a state of mind caused by constant factors common among all people suffering from depression. In some cases, it’s clinical and caused by an actual physical condition.

  • You cannot fix someone’s depression

Just like addiction, they must walk the road to recovery on their own. The best you can be is someone who encourages them when they stop. Don’t force them into things nor manipulate them. The best course of action is to make them understand why they must walk the path to recovery.

  • There is no quick solution

Same with addiction. Depression is brought by constant factors exposed over a long period of time. Depressed people can’t “bounce” back as if they are cured. If this happens, something worse is taking place. True solutions come with practice, developed habits, and proper perspectives, things that are achieved only through a long period.

Fortunately, helping someone with depression and addiction is not as complicated.

  • Talk about it

Let them get it out of their chests. Let them talk about what keeps them down so you can understand the machinations behind it. Talking about it also helps the depressed person understand their own condition. Afterwards, offer your help, but make sure to set your boundaries.

  • Validate their depression

One of the main factors that cause depression to deepen is dismissal. A depressed person’s view of life is bleak enough that dismissal actually confirms their misguided thought process. When talking to your loved one, acknowledge that they are going through something difficult and that you’re concerned. Treat depression as a condition, not an emotion, that your loved one is sick and needs help.

  • Let go of logic

An addict and a depressed person’s world is vastly different from the normal world. They work under different rules and certain things may mean another. Instead of rationalizing with a depressed addict, understand their point of view and their logic, then validate it.

Think of it as empowering their existence by letting them know that what they feel is real.

How to Stage an Intervention

One of the best ways to confront an addict and help them quit is through an intervention. Sometimes, a personal conversation filled with care and a bit of tough love will suffice, but addiction can warp a person’s brain to thinking it’s opposition. In these cases, a focused approach is needed.

What’s an intervention?

In simple terms, it’s a group confrontation. All concerned parties all gathered into one place to confront the addict about their problem. This helps the addict understand the scope of their own problem, and how many people care about helping them. This can cause a powerful effect on the person and motivate them to recover from their addiction.

Things to do to stage an intervention

  • Make a Plan

Everything starts with a plan. The best way to start is to contact a specialist or professional. Get the information you need and begin organizing the needed components, such as the program steps, where to take the addict for recovery, and how to deal with aggression and opposition.

  • Learn about the person’s addiction

Try to understand what’s behind the person’s addiction. Is it about an ex-lover? Career? Is there something they could be hiding or running away from? Contact the people close to the person to find out.

  • Gather your team

Contact your specialist, the addict’s friends, and family and ask them to join your cause. Once you have your people, agree on a time and place where to set your intervention. Rehearse the intervention and make sure some of the members act as guides during times of heavy emotion.

  • Set your ultimatums

An intervention is not a negotiation. It’s either the addict accepts and goes into recovery, or face an ultimatum. For example, if the addict chooses not to go to recovery, then he or she will have to move out, or be denied certain privileges, or even a break-up. Either way, the result must be absolute.

  • Finalize and keep notes

Rehearse what you need to say, along with everyone else. Keep notes if you must. You’ll be telling your loved one, the toll of their addiction and your feelings about it. You must all be free of hesitation when saying so.

  • Start the Intervention

This commonly starts with the loved one going to the intervention sight without knowing what’s going to take place. When the intervention starts each person will express their feelings and concerns. After everyone is finished, the addict is then asked to accept rehabilitation on the spot, along with the ultimatums if the addict doesn’t. The consequences should not be said in a threatening manner, and should only be stated if they can be followed through.

  • Follow up and update

Accept or not, the next steps must be taken. They should follow the agreed recovery plan, with everyone’s support. If not accepted, everyone should stick to their ultimatum without hesitation. Even after the rehab or recovery program, care and support should be given to avoid relapse.

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