When someone you care about struggles with addiction, it can be scary and challenging. After all, addiction touches many lives directly or indirectly. It’s also not something that ends when the intervention or rehab is over. Supporting friends and family members during this difficult time is an important part of the process for everyone involved.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can offer them support as they work towards getting healthy again. Here are four ways to help your friend during this trying time.
Understand the process
As with many things in life, the best way to support someone with an addiction is to understand the process they are going through. Addiction isn’t a quick fix; it’s a lifelong journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and ultimately, healing. When an addict enters into treatment, they are entering a process of self-exploration and discovery — one that will likely include both highs and lows, moments of clarity, and times of self-defeat. This is in large part due to the fact that many addicts also suffer from co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and more.
When a friend first opens up to you about their substance use, you have the opportunity to start a conversation about getting help. Unfortunately, not all friends or family members take this step. And that’s totally understandable — it’s a tough conversation to have. But it could be critical for their health and well-being.
If your friend comes to you and says they have a problem, the first thing you should do is reassure them that you care and that you want to help. You can also help by checking out a few resources that can assist you in talking to your friend about getting help.
Offer to help with tasks
Depending on where your friend is in the recovery process, they might not be able to do certain things that they used to be able to do. At the very least, they will be dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety. Your friend might not be able to go to work, take care of their kids, or do other important tasks that they need to do.
One way you can help is to offer to take on simple tasks that your friend might not be able to do, like picking up groceries or doing some household chores. This can give your friend time to rest, relax, and regroup. This can also be a great way to show your support. It lets your friend know that you are there to help them through this difficult time.
Be there for moral support
Much of the early stages of the recovery process involve learning how to manage your emotions. Addiction is a disease that hijacks your brain and changes the way you think and feel. It’s often a long road to recovery, and your friend is likely to experience a range of emotions throughout the process.
When your friend is struggling, let them know that you are there for them and offer any help that you can. If your friend is going through particularly intense emotion, like a bout of depression or anxiety, try to be there for them and listen. Let them know you are there for them and that you care. This can be a huge help to someone who is struggling.
Don’t enable their bad habits
People often enable bad habits. This happens when you enable a loved one to continue their destructive behavior because you don’t want to see them suffer. Unfortunately, this can cause your friend to continue on their destructive path. This isn’t to say that you should treat your friend poorly or be mean to them. It simply means that you should be aware of your own actions and how they might be affecting your friend.
Let’s say that your friend is going through a particularly stressful time in their recovery process and is having a hard time managing their emotions. If you constantly let them off the hook when they do something wrong, you are enabling their bad habits. You might do this because you don’t want to see your friend get reprimanded for something, or because you don’t want to deal with their feelings.
Avoiding enabling your friend’s bad habits is important, as it can prevent them from getting the proper care and support they need to stay on track.
When someone you know is dealing with addiction, the best thing you can do is love them through it. Addiction can affect people from all walks of life. Whether your friend is in between treatments or has been sober for years, there is always space for improvement. Offer to help your friend and let them know you are there for them. A person who is struggling with addiction can use all the help they can get.