Substance abuse has been a known vice in our society for ages now and continues to throng the lives of many families across cities—both metropolitan and small.
However, the most traumatic experience is perhaps for those who endure this with the addict. Here is a 10-step guide for the parents, spouses, siblings, close friends or partners of the one suffering from substance abuse:
1. Listen Up
The most important juncture in an addict’s path to recovery is the first one—when the partner, parent or any other trustworthy person listens to them. Make sure you are open to hearing the addict out.
2. Understand What’s Going On
However difficult it may be to listen to justifications for using drugs, alcohol or any other substance, it is imperative to understand the reason for the addict picking it up in the first place. The root problem usually also holds the solution for grave issues.
3. Accept Reality
As a parent, spouse, partner or sibling, it is the most difficult thing to do—accept that the person you love so dearly is addicted to drugs, chemicals or alcohol. It is better to do so sooner rather than keep struggling with the facts and not accept reality.
4. Communicate Regularly
To stop communicating or avoid topics such as addiction, recovery and related issues is like blocking off the path to recovery. Make sure you involve yourself in the process of recovery by regularly discussing the methods of healing and the wrongs that the abuse is causing.
5. Share The Problems
If the person is someone very close to your heart, you are probably enduring the trauma as much as, if not more than, the addict himself or herself. Share what you experience with the addict. And encourage them to share. If they do not have access to meetings, they would need to share with either other recovering addicts, or someone who understands their condition, without being judgmental.
6. Encourage Recovery
Merely shunning the abuser for his or her condition may not be the most advisable step to take. Encourage recovery and the medical steps to be taken for it.
7. Allow Minor Responsibilities
It is very difficult to build trust in a person who lies, uses your money for illicit drugs and cannot take on any responsibility. However, the solution lies in being patient and allowing minor responsibilities to make way for building that lost confidence —from both sides.
8. Attend Open Meetings
Recovery from drugs or alcohol has support systems worldwide. Informal institutions such as the Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous allow meetings of other recovering addicts, thereby encouraging sharing and recovery. Some such meetings are open. Try and attend some of those with the addict. This will help you understand better and the affected will gain more confidence in you. What’s more, you may just give them more reason to get out of the condition.
9. Reposition The Relationship
The dynamics of a relationship based on abuse, lies and cheating are always tricky. It takes a lot of patience, tolerance and strength of mind to deal with an ailing mind, which is what an addict is, since his or her mental health also deteriorates as a result of the substance abuse. Therefore, it is important to be cautious about the way your feelings get affected. Learn to love, despite the condition. Strengthen your heart and mind to deal with the trauma. Make room for forgiveness, knowing the lies are a result of a disease.
10. Keep Medical Help At Hand
Since the addict is a person dealing with an ailing mind, he or she needs medical attention from time to time. Psychiatric appointments on a regular basis will help them stay stabilized and focused. These will also help you assist in the recovery better. Always keep the number of a medical professional on your speed dial, should there be an emergency.
Dealing with a person undergoing substance abuse is no piece of cake. It takes immense patience, courage and understanding to handle the situation. However, the addict himself or herself should be open to recovery, else no one help those who don’t want to help themselves.