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An addiction is a serious health problem that can destroy the life of the person himself, but also of his environment. Family members have an essential role in recovery, although they may feel lost in how to act.
When a family member or friend is addicted, it is most common for that person to refuse to recognize that there is a problem even though it is obvious. Therefore, it will not consider it necessary to go to a professional for treatment.
Regardless of the object of the addiction (alcohol, medicines, illegal drugs, gambling...), this condition is a serious problem that can destroy the life of the person and those around them.
Therefore, every individual who suffers from this phenomenon should receive professional help. Depending on each case, it may be necessary to carry out a rehabilitation process, detoxification, psychological therapy... among others.
In addition to professional help, there is no doubt that the role of those close to them is essential, although it is often difficult for them to know how to handle the situation. Therefore, in this newsletter, we are going to talk about guidelines that can be followed to help a loved one get out of an addiction.
How to help people with addictions?
First, it is essential to keep in mind that, when the adult who is addicted refuses to receive treatment, it is impossible to be able to force him. The last word is yours, and loved ones can only recommend or reinforce their initiative to ask for help.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that the process of recovering from an addiction is never linear. It is common for relapses to occur, and accepting this as a natural thing is helpful to avoid feeling continuous frustration during the process.
In addition, it is vital that the family members themselves do not neglect their own needs. Many times, the desire to make that person recover can lead to forgetting one's own well-being and further harm the entire family unit.
Next, we are going to discuss some basic guidelines that can be key to helping those who suffer from an addiction.
1. An addiction is a pathology
It is often believed that people who suffer from an addiction are really aware of what they do. However, when an addiction is established, the person is sick and does not respond to warnings, threats or reproaches.
His life and his will are subject to the object of addiction, and no word alone will change that. Therefore, stop beating yourself up and investing energies in that person for reasons, as they are not in a position to do so.
2. Ask for help
Asking for help is essential, since it is difficult for the addicted person and his or her family members to overcome the problem on their own. Professionals can, from their experience and knowledge, guide loved ones through the hard process to recovery.
Sometimes admission to a clinic may be necessary, and at this point trust in the team of professionals and coordination between them and the family is more important than ever.
3. Support him when taking the step
You can't force that person to receive treatment, but you can give him your full support. Tell him that you are together in this and that you will accompany him throughout the process because you trust that he can recover.
4. Set clear limits
Although it is very difficult, it is essential that the family adopt a position of determination in which the limits are clear. Therefore, it is crucial that the red lines are not exceeded.
These seemingly harsh measures are, in fact, part of the solution to get it back. Giving permission implies allowing the violation of the agreed limits, and this is another obstacle to helping that person you love and who is suffering.
In addition, setting limits is also a way to prevent relapses and for people around to protect themselves without being emotionally and/or physically damaged.
5. Get information
Information is power, so a good way to help the person who suffers from an addiction is to investigate about it. Try to learn through official and reliable sources, which will allow you to learn more about addiction and everything it implies. This way, you will be able to provide better help to that person.
6. Stimuli control
It is important that the person's family and friends avoid behaviors, places and stimuli in general that can act as triggers of addictive behavior in that person. For example, if the loved one suffers from alcoholism, it is not a good idea to drink in front of him or have parties where alcohol will be everywhere.
In this sense, it may be necessary to review the circle of friends and the places that the person himself frequents, since it is often the friends themselves who incite consumption.
7. Listen to him
When someone suffers from an addiction, they may need to feel heard to get rid of their feelings. Try to be available for it and give it a space to vent.
However, it is important that you can limit this so that the time of consolation does not become an invasion of your own time for you. Remember that your emotional needs are also important.
8. Stay calm
Maintaining a calm attitude is not easy, but it is very necessary to avoid worsening the situation. Try to express your feelings assertively when you feel anger, helplessness... Avoid raising your voice or entering into judgments and threats. Instead, tell that person you are worried about their health and their future.
9. Reinforces your commitment
It is important to remember that overcoming an addiction is really difficult. Therefore, it is essential that you be able to respect that person's decisions regarding the treatment he or she decides to do.
In addition, it is key that you reinforce that person's commitment and initiative towards change, letting him know that you trust him and believe that he is able to achieve it little by little.
10. Substitute activities
The void left by addiction when recovery progresses must be filled with other things. The family here again has an important role, because it can help that person look for pleasant activities that fill them and allow them to feel fulfilled.
We all have determined talents or tastes, and it is about exploiting those strengths so that the person feels that their life really has a meaning and is full. Some people find their place traveling, others cooking, others discover a new vocation...
11. Help him set short-term goals
Helping that person who is trying to get out of an addiction will also require us to approach the situation in a simplified way. Instead of focusing on a single long-term goal, it is better to divide the challenge into small short- and medium-term goals.
This will favor your motivation and make you see the recovery as something much more feasible. It is a good idea that you can carry out an action plan with your family member with daily and weekly objectives, also with the support of the professional who is taking care of them.
12. Don't let him fall into isolation.
Social isolation is a risk for relapses in those who suffer from an addiction. Therefore, an essential point to work on has to do with social relations. The family can, as I have already mentioned, collaborate to carry out pleasant activities with that person that make them feel fulfilled.
It is important that family and friends constitute a support network in which you can talk about emotions freely and in which drugs have no place.
In case the friendships were an incentive to use, it is time to help that person creates new friendships away from the drug. This will allow you to discover a new way to have fun and enjoy your leisure time, finding new sources of motivation away from your addiction.
In this newsletter, we have talked about some guidelines that can be key to helping a family member who is suffering from an addiction. When someone close to you goes through this type of problem, loved ones find themselves in a very difficult situation in which there are often doubts about how to act.
In this sense, the family has a decisive role in:
- setting limits,
- doing good control of stimuli,
- reinforcing that person's achievements,
- and supporting them to go to therapy.
In turn, loved ones must show firmness and determination and not neglect their own emotional needs.
Family, friends and professionals must coordinate to provide the person with a strong support network in which social isolation is avoided, and short-term goals are established that maintain motivation.
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