Drug addictions and substance abuse isn’t just people injecting in the streets and not all drug addicts are committed to rehab or treatment– drug addiction is everywhere and it’s highly likely that at least one person you know is struggling with a drug problem. It’s really important to remember that addiction is an integral part of society, people tend to underestimate the volume of addiction there is around us with varied types and strengths of addiction.
Many hide their problems but their cracks inevitably begin to show. If you’re worried about a loved one, here’s some light advice on the best action to take in helping them. It is vital to remember that unless you are a medically qualified practitioner, the only form of treatment you can support in is emotional support which is what this guide focuses on. Sometimes, a reliable and trusted friend can be more powerful than any rehabilitation centre.
Someone who is struggling with addiction is highly likely to be feeling shameful towards themselves, which can only heighten problems further. The worst thing you can do is make a struggling person feel guilty of their actions, pushing them to lose even more respect for themselves can make them lose hope and deny treatment.
Addiction is not a choice, it is a mental illness and has no reflection of the person who is struggling. No person should ever be made out to be any less of a person when struggling with drug abuse. The words ‘junkie’ and other negative stereotypes need to stop and we need to begin to understand that addiction is way more complicated than choosing to take drugs for the sake of it. The more society begins to accept addiction as a condition over a lifestyle choice will make those dealing with addiction be more likely to reach out for help and accept treatment without feeling shameful or guilty. When talking to a friend who is struggling, avoiding blaming or shaming will be a much more effective way of communication and will open new doors to treatment. Shaming, guilting and general prejudice pushes struggling people to shut away from society even more and worsen the problem in hand.
When a friend or loved one struggles with addiction, it can cause problems in social communication. It’s no secret that if you participate in drinking or drug taking with a known addict is immoral and will certainly not help their progress. Placing your loved one in a harmful situation around the dangerous substances encourages temptation and discourages their rehabilitation.
It is unfair to suggest that you should give up drinking or social events because your friend is struggling with addiction, but putting more thought in how you spend your time together is very important. Believe it or not, there are things you can do that don’t involve drugs and alcohol. Spending time with struggling friends is very important, so I stress how you should not just exclude them completely from your social events so as not to put them around temptation. Actively socialising in different environments away from drugs and alcohol will allow you to spend your time together in more of a supportive way, still keeping sociable in a healthier way. You can still have fun together without drugs and alcohol!
The best thing you can do when supporting a friend through addiction is researching and educating yourself about the subject. With the endless resources through a quick online search, anyone can be an expert on any topic. Read up on their condition and identify methods of helping them through blogs just like this one. This will prevent any harmful treatment methods from poor education of a condition and will also give you more of an open understanding of addiction as an illness, invoking more sympathy and realisation of how complex addiction can be.
Education leads to understanding. It is undeniable that those who have actively researched into or even experienced mental illness like addiction will be more understanding of others who struggle: they do say that you never know until you’ve experienced it yourself. I’m not saying you need to go and do a full degree in Psychology; literally a few minutes of researching addiction will open your mind a lot more to what causes it and how it develops. This also goes for those struggling themselves; there is nothing more eye-opening than learning about your own condition to inform you how you can better yourself.
One of the biggest challenges of addiction is opening up to talk about it to someone. There will be two types of people in a struggling person’s life: those who genuinely care about your wellbeing and those who couldn’t care less. The people who care will not enable addiction and will be there through struggles to communicate without telling the person struggling what to do. The other will dismiss their wellbeing whilst encouraging bad habits without a care in the world. Being the true friend who communicates and understands will be the trusted guidance that someone suffering with addition needs.
Trusted communication is vital. Talking to someone with genuine care and interest for their wellbeing and their life quality is shown and appreciated. Conversations shouldn’t always be about their addiction and shouldn’t avoid the topic completely either. Being a friend goes beyond support, you need to still have a laugh with each other and enjoy company together so friendships shouldn’t change when addiction is brought into the picture. However in terms of avoiding the subject, talking openly about the problem as though it is a task to overcome is helpful to all. Having a trusted, helpful and genuine person to talk to can do the world of good sometimes.
When I write any form of mental health advice on this blog I am always aware that it is far easier said than done. When facing illnesses like addiction, you need to expect difficulties and deal with them the correct way. You can’t expect someone to wake up one morning, ask for treatment and completely quit their habits within one day because that is just not realistic. Taking the perspective that it is a long journey and any progress is incredible, no matter how small, is definitely the mindset to have.
Even admitting to a problem or accepting help is an enormous achievement. Praising progress and accepting downfalls as part of the process is so important, perseverance is key. Addiction is one of the biggest challenges anyone could overcome and it certainly won’t be easy or quick, but the outcome will be worth it for all involved. Being realistic, supportive and understanding that difficulties will arise but giving up isn’t an option are the perfect tools to providing support to anyone struggling.
-Beauty by Disaster x