Drug addiction never affects just one person. When someone you love is suffering with substance abuse it can feel impossible to know what the best way to handle it is – how do you support them without supporting their addiction? Though you can’t force someone to recover, you can certainly respond in a way that is loving without being enabling.
Allow consequences to happen
Though your natural instincts might be to protect your loved one from the negative consequences of drug addiction, it’s not conducive to recovery. In order to have a desire to change, an addict must recognize that there are consequences to their actions – if someone is there to “bail them out” every time, it makes it easier for them to continue using drugs.
People are more motivated to change by love than by other negative responses such as criticism, shame, or control. Treat people as they can become – this will help them feel capable of overcoming their addiction. Guilt may cause addicts to further abuse substances to try and numb the pain associated with people being so disappointed in them.
Love gives people hope, so try to show as much of it as possible, without seeming accepting of their bad choices.
Always speak calmly, without seeming attacking
A person’s response to feeling attacked is nearly always defensiveness, and drug addicts are particularly prone to responding in this way. Don’t confront a drug abuser in an overly confrontational way – speak in a way that avoids a potential argument, and express care and concern for them. Don’t let your emotions take over, and don’t let yourself manifest anger towards your loved one.
Consider an intervention
Interventions should be handled very carefully, if used. Those present at an intervention should be close to the person struggling with drug addiction, and the tone of the meeting should be love and concern, not shaming or disappointment. Friends and family involved can write letters that specifically describe how the person’s addiction has affected them and their relationship. Have a recovery plan prepared before, to give the addict an understanding of how to move forward toward positive change. Some people also offer specific consequences if the addict rejects the idea of overcoming their problem – if you decide to state these, make sure you follow through with them.
Relapses are nearly always a part of recovery, unfortunately. Don’t respond to them as if your loved one has “failed”, but keep supporting them with their recovery efforts, seeking treatment each time it is needed.
Be there for them
Regular calls or texts of love and support can make all the difference to someone struggling with drug addicts. Also aim to spend as much time with your loved one as possible, to help them stay away from their addictions and to engage them in activities that they genuinely enjoy for good reasons. Try to do their favorite things, and stay positive when you’re around them. It’s important that they feel hope.