Surrounding yourself with loved ones is one of the most important things that many believe can bring lifelong happiness. Healthy relationships with friends and family often create an invaluable support system, companionship, entertainment, and higher life meaning. But what happens when you have a loved one who is suffering from drug addiction and destructive behaviors?
Recognizing the Signs
Bringing up the issue can be an embarrassing or touchy subject for some, but when subtle hints evolve into emotional, behavioral, and physical indicators that are telltale signs of an addiction, you will likely feel compelled to take action and help. Since some people battling addiction may hide the physical evidence of their use, paying attention to the following signs may help you determine if your loved one needs help:
- Socially inappropriate behaviors out of the ordinary
- The use of classic defense mechanisms when the subject is brought up
- Secretive behavior
- Sleep problems
- School or work performance
- Speech patterns
- Change in physical appearances such as weight, skin conditions, and eyes
Refuse to Participate in Reinforcing Behaviors
When a close relationship is at stake, it can be intimidating and nerve-wracking to make your loved one uncomfortable. However, it may be necessary for change. Offering help goes beyond than just giving recommendations and insisting on a rehabilitation program. By not participating in scenarios that make drug use easier or more appealing to your loved one, you can help avoid reinforcing it and making the drug or behavior more easily accessible. For example, refusing to provide money to purchase substances, or declining to accompany or transport your loved one to places where drugs and other drug users are known to frequent, can make it more difficult for your loved one to have access and to be tempted to use. Your actions along with kind and firm advice can help assert to your loved one which behaviors are healthy and acceptable.
Seek Professional Resources
If your loved one is struggling with an addiction, it isn’t fair or expected for you to take the place of a qualified therapist. Often, these issues are much more complex than they seem to the average person and may need a special approach, such as dual recovery treatment, to make genuine progress toward recovery. While you may not be able to replicate the help that a professional can offer, helping in other ways such as accompanying your loved one to appointments, checking in to provide words of encouragement during rough patches, and researching other resources such as support groups, are just some ways that an average person may be able to help.
When it comes to addiction, the reality is that the person with it must be the one to make a conscious decision and ongoing effort to make a change. While the circumstances surrounding an addiction may be troubling, and symptoms may be worrisome, it is important to realize your place in this person’s journey. Helping where you can, and even making the extra effort from time to time can be effective ways to be a supportive friend or family member. However, it is important to remember that your health and well-being are as equally important as anybody else’s. Establish clear boundaries and stick to them, and if necessary, consider taking a break from the situation or getting help for yourself if it begins to take a toll on your own health and well-being.