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Coping with an Addict in Your Life

It isn’t always easy to recognize that someone you know is struggling with addiction. The signs are not always so obvious as they might seem on television; there may be no drop in job performance or in their day-to-day life. You may need to be more observant of your friend or family member’s behavior. Does your friend get high every weekend? Does a family member take pain medication habitually?

Alcoholic
Image: flickr.com/photos/32135406@N00

Those could be signs that someone in your life has an addiction and while there is help with addiction recovery, you can offer support to your friend or loved one.

Understanding

One of the first steps in helping someone battling addiction is understanding how their abuse may have begin and why it continues. Your friend may have begun using drugs for a good time, to ease stress or depression, to lessen physical pain, or simply out of curiosity. As use progresses into abuse, frequency or quantity may increase or parts of your family member’s life will receive lower priority than their drug use. Being aware of these problems and their potential connection to drug abuse will ensure that you are not simply ignoring the problem.

Boundaries not Band-Aids

Setting boundaries is key to dealing with an addict. You will likely be tempted to try to “fix” your friend or loved one, but your friend isn’t something that you can repair. However, this shouldn’t mean that you must be afraid to speak up. Though you may not be able to fix your friend, you can certainly let them know you are concerned and why. Try to remember, however, that positive reinforcement tends to work better than threats or fear. To try to sway your friend, use reminders of the people who care and worry rather than tales of premature death or disease due to drug abuse.

Part of vocalizing your concern is also setting clear boundaries so that you are not merely an accomplice in their addition. Don’t agree to participate in harmful behavior with your friend and do not enable them by providing them with money to buy more of their drug of choice. Also, you should be careful not to make light of your loved one’s addiction; jokes are often viewed as a form of acceptance.

This may also include staging an intervention by assembling friends and family to show your loved one that there are people who care and are concerned. A number of addiction programs can help you to properly organize an intervention.

Offer Support

your friend of family member has expressed a need to change or a desire to overcome their addiction, try to be supportive. This could come in the form of encouraging words, attending a meeting with them, or simply listening. That last step can be particularly important as your friend may use you as a sounding board to decide whether they need or want professional help.

Part of offering support and being the person that your friend can turn to is keeping gossip to yourself. If you want to help your friend along the road to recovery, they need to know that they can trust you with the good news and the bad, the uplifting and the embarrassing. Your friend will need as many positive influences as possible, but if you are telling tales about your friend’s behavior, they are not likely to include you in their circle of friends for long.

Protect Yourself

Addictions may directly impact one person’s life, but often a person’s addiction leaves an impression on the people who surround them. If you work with an addict, it is possible that their job may suffer, and if you are not cautious, their poor work performance could also impact you. Family relationships can also suffer as someone battling addiction may neglect the care of children or elderly family members. This may include taking a step back from your friend for your own well being.

Contacting local drug rehab outpatient programs can help or facilities may also provide you with guidance or specialists who can offer additional, individualized advice.

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