If you are living with a relative or loved one who is a drug addict, you need to be prepared to deal with any kind of situation that may occur along the way. Drug addiction is excruciating and harmful not only to the addicted person, but also to his/her surrounding family and friends. The emotional and financial consequences may be devastating for everyone involved. Here are some recommendations to help you learn how to face this problem and how to support your loved one during the process.
Tips for Living with a Drug Addict
1. Learn the Information of Drug Addiction
Every type of drug is different. The effect, the duration and the way the drug can be introduced to the body can vary from one kind of drug to another. Try to find out which drug or drugs your loved one is using and begin to investigate from there.
Visit certified and trustworthy medical or official online sites that can give you correct information, and remember that not everything you read on the web is true.
2. Search for Available Treatment Options
Drug addiction is a complex disease that has both mental and physical effects on the using person. There are many biological changes in a drug addict’s body and mind, which can make it very difficult for him/her to overcome the disease. Luckily, there are many available options to treat a drug addict, and a mental health professional will determine which one provides the best approach for each particular case.
- Motivational enhancement therapy: This method focuses on making the person see why it is so difficult for her/him to stop using drugs, so they can be motivated to receive the treatment.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This approach teaches the drug addict to effectively identify possible triggers or conducts that lead him/her to drug use, and learn how to control themselves.
- Family therapy: As the name indicates, family members of the drug addict are involved in the therapy process. This helps the person to see and understand how his/her addiction can affect everyone’s life and emotions.
- Contingency management: This therapy is based on behavioral supervision, teaching the drug addict how to slowly change his/her behavior by positive reward.
3. Encourage the One to See a Professional
If someone does not want to be helped, then you can do nothing to help him/her. In this condition, you should encourage him/her to get the help from a professional. Be patient and try to understand feelings that he/she may be experiencing. Be respectful and avoid being judgmental.
4. Find Local Facilities That Can Help with Drug Abuse
You can help by searching local groups, rehabilitation centers or detox clinics online. Talk with a health professional to find the best option available for your loved one to start the treatment.
In a detox program, your loved one will be admitted and taken care of by a group of professional people who will make sure the drug safely leaves his/her body, while at the same time treating his/her mental health to prevent a future relapse.
Outpatient treatment with a mental health specialist can also be available for your loved one.
5. Give Your Loved One Appropriate Support
When living with a drug addict, make it clear for your loved one that you offer emotional help and support, but only as long as he/she stays away from drugs and wants to make a visible change.
Under no circumstance should you give him/her money that can be used to buy drugs. State that your home is not a place that can be used to take or store drugs of any kind. Tell your loved one that even though you are available, he/she needs to learn how to take care of her/himself.
6. Learn How to Communicate
Learning how to effectively communicate with your loved one will greatly help to improve the relationship.
Do not focus on scolding or shaming the other person; instead, talk about how his/her drug addiction makes you feel and how worried you are. Keep your voice steady, avoid yelling and show how deeply you love him/her.
7. Attend Support Groups
Do not neglect the emotions of yourself. It is important that you help your loved one but at the same time, you should take care of your mental and physical health. Talking and communicating your feelings with other people going through the same situation can really help you to better understand everything about living with a drug addict.
There are many organizations that can give you support during this difficult period of time; some of the groups that offer a program to help drug addict relatives and friends are Ala-Teen, Nar-Anon, and Al-Anon.
8. Break the Relationship If Needed
Do everything in your power to help your loved one overcome his/her drug addiction, but you also need to take care of your physical and mental health.
- If you are mistreated or feel in danger, or your loved one involves in mischievous behaviors like selling drugs near your place, then you need to get away from him/her.
- You also need to take care of your financial stability. Sometimes the drug addict starts selling house items and electronics that could compromise the family economy.
- Never be afraid of cutting ties with your loved one, getting him/her into a rehabilitation center or getting in contact with the authorities to report the situation.
9. Other Tips
- Living with a drug addict is something very tiresome for anybody, more so if it is your loved one. It is advisable to take some time for yourself and rest for a little while.
- Sometimes it is almost impossible to change someone’s decision and you cannot do it by force, so try to not blame yourself for it.
- Trying to lead a balanced life focused on self-care will do more for the addict than trying to actively help by doing things for him/her.
- Avoid having a discussion or arguing with the addict when their senses are compromised by drugs.
- Avoid negative thoughts whenever you have to deal with a loved one who is an addict, as doing so will only make them feel guilty and make things worse.