When someone you know or love is addicted to drugs, you probably feel a variety of emotions: anger, fear, anxiety, confusion and sometimes disgust or disbelief. These feelings may continue throughout the addict’s period of active use or after he or she attempts to quit the drug. Here are some coping skills to get you through:
- Learn All You Can About Drug Dependence. Having some knowledge can help ease your own feelings and lead you to a better understanding. (Start here — reading the addiction articles on the Horizon Blog can help!)
- Speak Up and Offer Your Support. Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support, including your willingness to go with him or her to get help.
- Express Love and Concern. When you talk to the addicted person, you may be met with excuses, denial or anger, but be prepared to respond with specific examples of behavior that has you worried.
- Don’t Expect the Person to Stop Without Help. It’s not easy to quit. Treatment, support, and new coping skills are needed to overcome drug addiction. Help your loved one follow all treatment recommendations.
- Understand That Recovery is an Ongoing Process. Once the addict is receiving treatment, or going to meetings, remain involved. Support their participation in continuing care, meetings and recovery support groups.
There are days when it will be difficult to remain positive, but here are several “don’ts” to keep in mind as well:
- Don’t Preach: Or lecture, threaten, bribe or moralize.
- Don’t Be A Martyr: In other words, don’t lay a guilt trip on the addict. This may only increase the compulsion get high.
- Don’t Enable: Don’t cover up, lie or make excuses for them and their behavior. And taking over their responsibilities protects them from the consequences of their behavior.
- Don’t Argue When They’re Using: You can’t argue with a person who is high; at that point they can’t have a rational conversation.
- Don’t Feel Guilty or Responsible: Their behavior is not your fault.
The most important thing to remember if you’re dealing with a friend or loved one with an addiction? Don’t get too involved. No matter how much you care for the person, you have to walk a thin line—that can sometimes feel like a high wire! You have to be available but can’t hover. You need to be able to ask questions but can’t interrogate. And you have to remember to take care of yourself too.
If you have questions or concerns about coping with a loved one’s addiction—or your own—do not hesitate to call Horizon Health Services at 716.831.1800. Horizon offers a variety of resources and treatment options for substance abuse in Buffalo. We’re here to help you on the path to recovery.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.