3 Ways You Can Support Someone With A Drug Or Alcohol Addiction

Watching someone you love endure the pains of addiction can be difficult, and you're not alone. Approximately 9.2% of the American population struggle with a form of addiction and less than 1% of these people don't get the help they need to overcome their battle. Often, their family members don't know how they can help. The last thing you should do is assume there isn't a problem, or that your loved one can handle their addiction on their own. Help them move forward in getting the help they need.

Here are 3 ways you can support a person you love who has a drug or alcohol addiction. 

Try to understand their addiction

Substance abuse is a very real addiction, and can force a person to do harmful things to their body, forgo favorite activities with friends and family, and can even make them ignore their responsibilities in life, such as work, children, and paying attention to their spouse. You may be frustrated and concerned, but you haven't walked in your loved one's shoes. Research their addiction so you can better understand the physical and emotional turmoil they are going through, so you can be more patient, concerned, and ultimately helpful in helping them find recovery.

Don't support their addiction

This may seem counteractive to helping, but supporting a person's addiction gives them a sense of permission to continue their abuse. Do not do the following:

  • make up excuses for their behavior
  • loan them money
  • hide their addiction
  • take ownership of their addiction as if it were your fault
  • pay their bills or take over other responsibilities
  • try to argue with them while they are using it

Your loved one may lash out at you for not supporting their behavior and their actions, but this only means that you are doing the right thing. As long as your loved one knows they can rely on you to pay for their addiction, give them a place to stay, and have you to blame for their problem, they will feel more comfortable continuing their behavior, and not feel the consequences of their actions that may otherwise cause them to quit.

Encourage them to find help

Doing an intervention on your loved one will probably be the hardest thing you'll ever do, since you may feel that you are cornering them to make a decision about their substance abuse. An intervention, however, gives a sense of reality to a substance abuser and how they are affecting their loved ones, and ultimately, themselves. With an intervention, you give your loved one an open invitation to seek help and know that they will be supported throughout their recovery. Gather up other concerned family members and friends, and lovingly approach the individual so you can discuss their addiction and the ways it is hurting them. Offer them a recovery plan, be it rehab or a support group, so they can immediately take action should they choose to take control of their addiction right away.

If you have a loved one who is suffering from addiction, know that there are many ways you can help. You can do this by better understanding why and how they are addicted, not giving them avenues to use, and in offering them true help that can change their lives.