Addiction is something that is very hard to understand.
The reason behind the difficulty lies in the hard-to-face truth that no two addicts are alike.
Some people struggle with an addiction by abusing substances, such as drugs or alcohol.
Others are dependent on substances, which is usually more serious, but not any less important to get a handle on.
These individuals who are dependent, may experience symptoms such as withdrawal, as well as the inability to function in a normal day to day society.
They are unable to handle responsibilities, keep a job, or much worse, take care of their families.
It is not because they do not care–it is simply due to the fact that they need these substances to feel normal–no matter what is happening around them. I know, because I was there too, not long ago.
Substance abuse is steadily growing, especially in the United States. It impacts millions of individuals, and their families–adults and youth alike. You can find more information about addiction on great government help sites like Niaaa.Nih.gov, and DrugAbuse.Gov.
The sad truth is:
- 23-million Americans who are 12 and older suffer from some form of an addiction
- Out of these 23-million, more than 15-million of them are dependent on alcohol, approximately 4-million are dependent on drugs, while the remainder of the bunch are dependent on both drugs and alcohol
- Nearly 1.8-million Americans were admitted to drug/alcohol treatment facilities in 2006 alone–those treated for their alcohol addiction are about 10-times more likely to commit suicide, and 14-times more likely if they are addicted to drugs.
1. Research As Much Information About Addiction As You Possibly Can
You cannot begin to help a struggling addict until you understand the nature of their addiction.
While there are several models of addiction which attempt to describe what addiction is, and why it affects people, none of these models are 100% accurate.
These models do a decent job of describing the ‘real world’, but knowing that people who stay clean for years and relapse again will not help you change the present. It is still good to check this model out.
The more you research addiction, the better you will understand it.
You can’t just watch a YouTube video, or a reality TV show and expect to become a professional drug counselor.
You must dig deeper, and it really helps if that person is willing to help you. Addiction can affect anyone, even those who do not seem to have a condition.
The following are people who may also be at risk:
- Those who have no apparent predispositions (such as genetics) for addiction
- Those who seemingly have little environmentally-surrounding risks
- Those who have no laziness or moral shortcomings about themselves
While you cannot control an addict, you can control your own behavior–how you behave in your relationship towards your suffering, sick, and possibly manipulative addict.
The best advice can come from an addict, or those who are professionally trained to handle the situation, such as drug rehab counselors. You should attend a NA or Al-Anon meeting where people can listen to your situation, and give you the best advice on how to handle your situation.
Education, as well as setting boundaries and limits are some of the most important things you can do to get a handle on things.
2. Help Yourself First So You Are Able To Help The Addict
To help an addict, try plugging in an addiction of your own, and see what you would do to change your habits, or even to stop thinking about it. It is not as easy as it sounds.
For example, I go to the gas station at least 3 times a day to get a fountain drink, a Mountain Dew, which I absolutely love. How could I break this cycle? Why don’t I just drink something else?
The main problem is, although I know it is not good for me I love it, thus I continue to do it–regardless of the consequences of what this terrible combination that tastes so sweet and refreshing is doing to my body.
I guess you could call this my ‘replacement’ addiction. (No, it is still not good for me, but with the severity of the addiction to opiates which I had struggled with for years, I am pretty happy with my decision!)
3. Help Them Develop a Support Network of Personal and Professionals
There were many nights I curled up in a ball, waiting for the pain in my arms, belly, and especially my legs to dissipate–which never happened, at least not to my recollection.
It was terrible, I was snotty, nauseous, and in pain.
I wanted to stop, because I knew if I could just get past this withdrawal I would be in the clear–the problem was, it was much too painful to deal with, and way too easy to get my hands on a fix.
I needed to hit rock bottom before I could begin a sober life. I needed to surround myself with people who were doing great, and wanted to see me doing well–a support team.
I know it sounds childish, but I really needed someone to pat me on the back when I did good–show me that someone out there cared about me, about what I was going through.
Unfortunately for me, I did not have a family who could help, both my mother and father were addicts themselves. My mother was an alcoholic (and still is), and my father (who tried to tell me it was drywall dust) is addicted to cocaine, and alcohol.
Our relationships will either contribute or detract our personal efficacy.
Individuals who are attempting to recover from addiction should develop a support team of friends, family, and professionals who recognize what you are trying to do.
If you are trying to help someone with an addiction–BE that support that they need don’t just demand they go to a drug rehab in Florida.
Help them grow their support team, because chances are, you are looking out for them more than they are looking out for themselves.
Addiction is a strange, powerful thing.
I guess you could say I was afraid. Afraid of what they would think, afraid of who I would disappoint if I relapsed–but mostly, I think I was just hoping that I could simply ‘appear’ to want help and support, but secretly hope that an old ‘friend’ would bring me a pick-me-up, so that I could feel that euphoric high I missed, and which made me feel like queen of the world.
Do not get me wrong–I wanted help. I was just still dealing with the high-stress struggle of which I wanted more: My family, or the drugs.
Irrespective of which addiction you struggle with (or your loved one struggles with), there are solutions available. Implement as much of what you have researched, including what you have learned here.
You should be sensitive to the issue–provide support in a manner which can speed up the recovery process.
Becoming aware that an addict must let go of their destructive past, including people who will drag the addict back into the black hole of drugs, alcohol, and depression is an important thing to implement.
Just remember, no matter what, you are doing this because you are. Do not feel guilty about it, either, you are there to help because you care.
Are you currently trying to help someone through addiction? Do you have any experiences trying to help someone who is addicted? Please share your experience with us below!