Addiction Help for the Struggling Addict
How can we best help a struggling drug addict? This article details some specific actions you can take that might make a difference in the life of an addict.
Drug addiction can affect nearly anyone because it has so many different avenues of attack these days. You have kids and teenagers who are smoking marijuana. There is alcohol everywhere in our society and the pressure to drink can be tremendous. Then there are painkillers, which have taken over the world and become the new gateway drug among young people. Opiates have become more popular than smoking dope among today's youth. So given that the problem is so widespread, what can we do to reach out and help others who are struggling? How can we help addicts who are caught up in a cycle of addiction?
The first strategy is to confront the person. Of course this can be difficult to do because many times you will be treated as a threat instead of someone who is genuinely trying to help so you might have to decide if it is worth it. In some cases you might want to just maintain the peace but at other times if someone is truly out of control or a danger to themselves then you must set those fears aside and confront them anyway. The goal is to see them get help, not to stand by and watch them self destruct.
There is no real way of avoiding a confrontation as there is no method to get them to ask for help indirectly. If you want to see someone change then you must talk to them about it. Formal interventions can be useful in some cases but they rarely pan out as well as planned. At best they might be a step on the path towards recovery, but don't expect to see instant success right away just because the whole family confronted someone together in a loving manner. They can be useful and they might actually help but don't think that an intervention is a magic bullet - it's not.
What can really help the struggling addict in the long run is for you to change your behavior towards them. What you want to do is act in a truly healthy manner and to do this you must not enable them in any way. This means that you might have to take a stand on some issues and put your foot down in cases where in the past you might have helped them. For example, if a struggling addict has children and they come over and beg for money so that they can provide for their children - do you give it to them? Some people might think it is compassionate to give them money because it's for their kids but this is actually hurting the addict and their children in the long run. Because they are actively using drugs and alcohol, the money you give them is actually supporting their habit, even if indirectly. Just because they played the "kids" angle on you does not mean that they are not still wasting money on dope.
So there are usually codependency issues involved when it comes to a struggling addict and the best thing for the people involved is to get healthy and set some boundaries. Make it clear to the addict what is not acceptable behavior and outline specific actions that you will follow in order to not enable them any more. If you need help with setting healthy boundaries then you might want to check out an Al-anon meeting. The people there can help you with dealing with a struggling addict and they can show you how to behave in a healthy manner so as not to enable them at all.
Helping a drug addict can be counter-intuitive for some people because many times we need to show tough love and let them face the natural consequences of their actions instead of bailing them out of yet another problem.
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