How to help an addicted person

A good drug addiction rehab clinic will help to educate the family of the patient and integrate them into the addict’s treatment and recovery process. Common methods include family or loved ones having conjoint sessions with the patient and facilitated by their focal addictions counsellor.  Often family group therapy sessions allow us to reassess who you are at home and if you’re comfortable to continue playing that role. Finding out how to help an addicted person is very important because we want to ensure that we discontinue enabling and set firm boundaries for recovery behaviour.

Family Support

The more the family is involved in the addiction treatment and recovery process, the easier the adjustment for both the patient and the family. As understanding of the illness grows in both the patient and the close family this will be helpful in learning to avoid patterns that previously fuelled the addiction. Drug addiction creates dysfunction throughout family relationships, and learning how to stop addiction enabling behaviour’s is crucial.

Recognising Enabling Behaviour

While family support is crucial, it is also important to recognise enabling behaviour that can hinder recovery, even if the intention is good. The most obvious example is lending money for bills to a friend or family member with a drug addiction problem, whilst intended to be helpful, is in fact more than likely that you’ll just fund their addiction. While the intention is good, it is not really helping the addict because it is sheltering them from the consequences of their actions and not allowing them to take responsibility.

Often the circumstances can be so extreme that the drug addict has no reason to clean up until the family seek some advice and allow the addict to take responsibility. It can be very difficult to watch a loved one suffer and struggle with drug addiction and the consequences it brings, but it is so important for them to see the reality of what they are doing, otherwise they may never realise that they are out of control.

Protecting the drug addict from the reality of their situation and the consequences of their behaviour only prolomgs their active addiction and delays them getting into recovery. As a result, one risks being constantly ashamed, confused and hurt when the addictive behaviour continues. This will only leave you feeling even more angry, sad and distrustful towards the addicted person.

Learn to recognise some common enabling behaviour:

  • Making excuses for the addicted person
  • Giving them money or paying their bills
  • Cleaning up their messes and getting them out of trouble
  • Rationalising their behaviour and ignoring problems
  • Believing their lies and excuses and ignoring that they have a serious problem

I suggest you seek some advice from a qualified addictions counsellor to guide, advise and help you choose the most effective way forward for the addicted person and the family as a whole. Remember that you can provide them with lots of love and support without fixing their problems for them. I heard a story of a father whose young daughter told her parents that she wanted to run away because they didn’t love her and were horrid to her. This was because her mother would not let her eat sweets before bedtime.

The father did the amazing thing of allowing his daughter the responsibility for her decision and sat down on his daughters bed helping her to  decide what she was going to pack; some food, some warm clothes, some toys – but only a few of  her best because she couldn’t carry them all, and her Barbie umbrella in case it rained. After their discussion, the daughter decided that running away may not have been her brightest idea and that a hug and a kiss from mum and dad and a warm bed would probably be the better option.

Often patients when first admitted to an drug addiction treatment centre will report to their loved ones “these people at the rehab have locked me in the cupboard and beat me with a broom, the food is disgusting and the toilet stinks, the bed is hard as a plank and everyone’s high on drugs in here” much like the situation with the runaway daughter. If you let them go they get down the road, look at the big wide world, it won’t be long before they run back home. It is not unlike that with some of our patients; they are confronted with their pain and told that they are going to have to change their coping skills and deal with it in a new manner. The whole treatment process can be quite painful.

Often addicted people’s first instinct is to hightail it but it is common knowledge that most addicts do not have the ability to maintain their addiction without some support, so we encourage family and friends to withdrawal any support and insist on the patient seeing treatment through till the end. There are often patients that discontinue rehab and refuse treatment. They even leave the premises and some even spend a day or so wandering the streets waiting for their families to capitulate, relent and go back to their old ways. In every case, once the patient finds that no one will support and enable their illness, they quickly return and begin a significant treatment experience – not unlike the little child who runs away from home.

The process of addiction recovery can be a rewarding one regardless of whether you are the one with the addiction problem or you are a family member or friend who is providing support, as long as you’re supporting the patient in the right direction and not enabling their addiction.

Commitment from both parties is essential for successful addiction recovery. Consult with one of our drug addiction treatment advisors today for free, expert advice on your nearest reputable rehab centres. We work with only the best drug addiction treatment centres through the UK, South Africa and Thailand.  Our trained rehabilitation consultants are waiting for your call.

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