5 Ways to Help Someone with a Drug Problem

If you have recently discovered that someone you care about struggles with drug addiction, you likely experienced shock and disbelief. Don’t let your own overwhelming emotions prevent you from helping your loved one. Here are some things you can do.

Stage an Intervention

Mayoclinic defines an intervention as “a carefully planned process involving family and friends. During the intervention, these people gather together to confront the person and ask him or her to accept treatment.” This is important because many substance abusers deny that they have a problem, and even if they want to reach out for help, they may fear change. An intervention lets the person know that you care and will support them through recovery.

The link in the previous paragraph gives guidelines on what an intervention entails, and it also mentions situations when you may need to hire a professional intervention specialist. You may need to do so if you suspect that your loved one may become violent during the intervention or if they've recently talked about committing suicide.

Create a Positive Environment

The intervention went well. Your loved one enrolled in treatment and is on the path to making a full recovery. Your role in helping that person is not over—not by a long shot. A recovering addict is fraught with a plethora of emotions and will need listening ears and an environment where he or she can focus on getting healthy.

One of the keys to creating such an environment involves getting rid of anything that might trigger your loved one’s desire to do drugs. That doesn’t mean simply checking every corner of the house for a hidden stash. A trigger is anything that makes the former user think of giving into the old habit. Talk with your loved ones about what his or her triggers are, and work to help that person avoid them. This is one of the key steps to recovering from drug addiction.  

Experts recommend meditation as an aid in helping former users recover. Meditation requires quiet time alone, so resist any tendency to cling to your loved one all the time.

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

The road back to health for an addict involves more than just leaving the drugs behind. It’s important to help your loved one focus on overall wellness. In an article about holistic ways to fight drug addiction, psychcentral says, “Physical exercise is a necessity” for obtaining sustained recovery. Everyone knows how difficult it is to stick to an exercise routine, so your volunteering to serve as a workout buddy can make a huge difference. 

A recovering addict’s diet must include healthy foods at regular intervals to reduce the likelihood of relapse. A diet with plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber will help keep blood sugar levels even, helping to avoid moods that might trigger substance abuse. Supplements, like B-complex and vitamins A and C may help as well.

You and your loved one can prepare nutritious meals together. If you struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the two of you can support each other in this regard. They'll be happy to help in addition to receiving help.

Have Fun Together

Oftentimes, leaving a drug habit behind means leaving friends behind. Help your loved one get out and meet people, people who will have a wholesome influence. Introduce him or her to your friends, or go to fun events together. Doing normal, enjoyable things together can help your loved one feel better in his or her skin without having to resort to harmful substances.

Going out and doing normal things does not mean you have to ignore your loved one’s problem. If he or she wants to talk about the struggle, be a willing confidant.  

Stay Watchful

Relapses may occur, despite everyone’s best efforts. Know the symptoms of abuse and be ready to take action. If a relapse does occur, don’t despair. Approach the situation calmly and form an action plan. Above all, do not give up and do not let your loved one give up.

Recovery from addiction is a long and complex process that involves all aspects of a person’s life, including you as someone who cares about the recovering addict. Support your loved one’s recovery as fully as you can.

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