If you have identified that your friend or loved one is suffering from a substance abuse issue, your support may go a long way in their path to overcome it. But, it is essential to note that certain words or actions that you may perceive as “being helpful” may not always yield the intended results. If you’re looking for what may be the best course of action, the tips listed below can help you out.
1. Understand That You Cannot Control Their Path
It is extremely difficult to watch your loved one deteriorate and suffer but at the same time it is essential to understand that you cannot control the direction of their life. It is vital that the individual offering support understands that they cannot make decisions on behalf of their loved one. They can offer their support and express their concern but they cannot do the work for them.
2. Listen With Empathy
Sometimes the best way you can help the someone suffering from substance abuse is to simply listen to them without judgment. Don’t jump into a lecture about everything that he or she is doing wrong, but rather ask them questions about what they feel and why they feel the way they do. Listen and speak with compassion and kick any false sense of superiority to the curb. Ensure that your loved one is in an environment where he or she feels safe so that there are no inhibitions while expressing their thoughts.
3. Communicate Openly And Honestly
Never shy away from discussing your friend’s substance abuse issue with them. Once you and your friend are in a safe and private environment, you can begin to ask them direct and clear questions about the issue at hand. Let them know that you may not completely understand what they are going through, but that you want to be there for them nonetheless. Let them know that their behavior is affecting and causing concern in the lives of the people around them. Try and ensure they are sober when you speak to them.
4. Ask Them If They Want Your Help
People often exhaust themselves trying to resolve a loved one’s drug or alcohol problems when the abusers themselves have no intention of receiving help. It is therefore essential that you openly ask your friend or loved one if they are willing or open to the idea of receiving help. If they have answered positively, ask them how involved they would like for you to be in their process of recovery or change. This is to ensure that you don’t overstep the line and cause friction in the relationship.
5. Understand The Difference Between Helping And Enabling
Sometimes people think they are helping their friend or loved one by providing excuses for their behavior, bailing them out of trouble, taking over their responsibilities, and prioritizing their needs over their own. On the contrary, all of the above actions enable the abuser to continue on his or her path and decreases the likelihood of change. If you have done this in the past, put a stop to it immediately and encourage your friend or loved one to take up responsibility for their actions.
6. Staging An Intervention And Talking To A Professional
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is no evidence that points to the effectiveness of staging a confrontational intervention. Interventions may or may not help. In some cases, it may even take a negative turn leading to violence or a strained relationship. It may be more helpful to ask your friend to speak with a healthcare professional who can discuss all the potential dangers he or she may encounter as a result of the substance abuse.
7. Identify Treatment Centers And Support Groups
If your friend or loved one does not appear to want your help, find contact details of a support group or treatment center and leave the information with them. Let your friend know that they can get in touch with the concerned professionals whenever they feel they are ready to make a change.
8. Don’t Partake In Drugs Or Alcohol In Their Company
If you are aware that your friend has a problem with alcohol or drugs, make sure you don’t use these substances in their company. Try to ensure that the environment is free from these substances to the best of your ability. The last thing you want to do is demotivate and discourage them from changing their own behavior and lifestyle.