To manage an addiction, whether it is caused by drugs or alcohol is a really difficult thing not only for the person who suffers from it but for those who surround them. In the majority of the cases, people do not know how to react when there is a close friend or family member suffering and urgently needing a drug or alcohol treatment program.
My friend needs help. What should I do?
It can be very difficult to see a friend fight against drug or alcohol use. The self-destructive behavior and bad decisions that that person can make due to the brain changes from the substance abuse, make everything very difficult emotionally for them and for the people that surround them. Contrary to what others think, trying to avoid the fact and prevent a confrontation is worse. Do not wait for the person to hit rock bottom, help them immediately. The best thing you can do when you suspect that there is an addiction is to approach that person and follow the recommendations below.
Intervention / Who should be there to help?
One of the biggest considerations you will encounter in an addict’s intervention is choosing who will be there. You must consider this matter out in advance. If possible, reach out to the person the addict respects the most. This person is an opinion leader for the addict and has to be there to give full support to the person receiving help and proper treatment. If that person may be you, then take these actions so you can know how to respond:
1. Make that person know you are there to help, although it may be hard
Talk to your friend, try to do it politely and without judgment. It will always be much harder to do than to say, but you have to start by doing it. It is their life that is put at risk if we do not decide to actively help. Always use positive affirmations, without criticism, and always in a tone that will not blame or aggravate that person or else you may start arguments before you can give advice or feedback and ruin the opportunity to help and support this person. Show your concern and display sincere appreciation. Telling empathetic stories of other addicts you know and how you want your friend to recover like another person or not to lose his family or friends or career like another addict you know may hit home with the person. Suggest that the person seeks help or offer information about how bad an addiction can be, but don’t force-feed them the information if they are not receptive to it. Have information and resources available if they choose to seek it. A professional interventionist is recommended at this stage.
2. Involve the closest ones carefully
Make sure that there are family members and loved ones involved. It is important for you to make them know that the person needs help and that they must support the overall agenda when thinking about making an intervention. A united front is imperative at this stage. If there is someone antagonistic in the family, that is the addict for some reason and is not able to control themselves from presenting arguments and accusations, then you may consider leaving that person off.
Generally, the addict has many enemies and has done wrong to the majority of the family but you want to redirect the focus from the addict’s past mistakes because it does not benefit the cause of encouraging the addict seeking treatment. Instead, focus the attention on helping the addict recover.
Healing is a Process
Help yourself or someone you know make a complete recovery.
3. Make an intervention
An intervention is a kind of meeting in which a group of people closest to the person gathers together to talk to the presumably addicted. Each person involved should be sincerely concerned about your friend and should be willing to tell him that getting help is necessary. This is not an easy step.
It is important to recognize any violent or suicidal behavior before doing this as it may require a professional to be involved. Not everyone reacts the same way. The overall goal is to take the addict to a time when he realizes that there is a problem and that he is willing to seek help. When this has been achieved, be prepared to take it to treatment promptly.
4. Do not hesitate about using complete professional help
You should investigate and know everything about an addiction to know how to deal with the person, not just emotionally, but what kind of help or treatment is usually used for those people who need a recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. More serious addictions may require hospitalization or at a treatment facility. Never hesitate to look for local resources such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, local treatment clinics, mental hospitals and so on. The important issue at this point is to make sure that your friend or loved one initiates a recovery process to pursue an effective treatment.
5. Keep supporting him
Do not assume that your friend already knows that you are there for them. Tell them that you are proud of their accomplishment. Acknowledge small steps and any progress. After all, it takes a lot to recognize an addiction and start working to eliminate it. Let them know how much you enjoy being with your newly sober friend. Spend time together and participate in activities such as meditation, reading, yoga, fitness and so on. Value the friendship but never act as they are some kind of monster that needs to be treated with special care. Do not change your vocabulary, just be you, as always, but be open and verbally affirm and appreciate them. Reiterate how much you care and how proud you are of the steps they are taking.