What to Expect from Someone With Substance Abuse Problems

If you have a friend or family member who lives with an addiction, it’s only natural to think of how you can help. While it may not always be easy, providing your loved ones with the help they need to fight their addiction will give them a better chance of overcoming it. In this blog post, we discuss everything you need to know about drug and alcohol abuse, how codependency may affect relationships, and where to find help to combat addiction. 

Things to Do

Here are a few things you can put into practice when trying to help out a loved one cope and overcome their substance or alcohol addiction: 

Build Trust 

Start by building trust with them so that they’re more likely to listen to you. But if your loved one has already broken your trust before, it can take a while to establish it again. Keep in mind, however, that establishing trust is an important step towards helping them to change. 

  • Be honest by letting them know how their addiction has affected your relationship and life with them 
  • Stay supportive but respect their privacy — while you can’t force them to quit, you can be their source of strength 
  • Avoid actions that destroy trust such as: criticizing, nagging, lecturing, yelling, exaggerating, and name-calling. 
  • Engaging in substance abuse yourself

Expect Difficulties

Various reasons make it difficult for a loved one to quit their addiction. They may: 

  • Not be willing to change their habits 
  • Not think that they have a problem 
  • Feel embarrassed and be unwilling to discuss their addiction 
  • Not fear consequences such as going to prison or losing their job 
  • Feel awkward discussing their issues with a professional such as a counselor or doctor 
  • Be engaging in their addiction to avoid having to deal with other problems such as finances or a mental illness 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to instantly help someone with an addiction, and overcoming it takes a lot of support and effort. If a person doesn’t want to help themself by changing their behavior, then trying to convince them is unlikely to work. 

Things Not to Do

There are certain things that you’ll need to avoid doing to encourage the healthy recovery of your loved one:

  • Don’t threaten your loved ones by giving them an ultimatum, as this may cause them to hide their behavior 
  • Expect them to change immediately because recovery takes time and setbacks are likely to happen 
  • Don’t criticize your loved one as this may add to their shame and make them doubt their ability to quit 
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