It can be the hardest thing in the world when you discover that somebody you love suffers from a problem with addictions. It’s a huge problem in the United States, costing the country more than half a trillion dollars annually. Whether the addiction is alcohol, drugs, gambling or something else, the feeling that a loved one is a victim to a behavior they struggle to control can impact you and your family or friends hugely.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you have a loved one that needs help with their addiction, there are several steps that you can take to help them out. Here is a checklist that you go through if you are faced with what can only be an incredibly difficult situation.
Understand What Addiction Really Is
Addiction is such a unique experience that very few people fully come to accept it for what it really is: a disease. That puts addiction on the same level of chronic illness as something like diabetes, which is equally rooted in genes and the environment. It’s not about willpower – you don’t choose to have a disease. There are chemical changes in the brain’s pleasure system in addicts that mean they lose the ability to both control and satisfy their cravings. This powerful combination can explain how an addict can be aware of their disease but feel no long-lasting motivation to break it.
After you have understood what addiction is, you should try to educate yourself further. There will be a lot of anger, anxiety, confusion and helplessness felt by both yourself and your loved one suffering from addiction. Part of this education process could be attending alcoholics, narcotics, gamblers anonymous, etc. meetings, which can help you learn both from experts and those who have gone through addictions themselves. Family and friends are welcome to attend.
Understand Your Role
There are roles that you can have as a friend or family member of one suffering from addiction. It is very possible that you don’t play either of these roles, but it’s important to be aware.
- An enabler is an individual who makes excuses for the addict’s behavior and never talks directly about the problem or about the steps that should be taken to help stop the addiction. Enablers typically arise when an addict’s behavior is creating c