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How to help a person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction

It is hard because you can’t do it for them.

One of the most important principles of helping people with drug and alcohol problems is to realise you can’t fix them. They have to fix themselves. Which means you’re limited in your ability to help them.  You’re usually only able to support them and give them empathy, understanding, and good advice.  However, have confidence that helping somebody by supporting them as they go through their journey is vitally important in their success.

Understand the limit of your control?

You can’t police their behaviour into success.  We always recommend that you don’t attempt to control or coerce, or force your friend or family member into doing drug or alcohol rehabilitation. This approach tends to make them become more deceptive, and more manipulative, in doing drugs and alcohol. Shaming, blaming, embarrassing them also doesn’t work.

Instead, it’s better to explain to them your worries and your concerns for the drug and alcohol use. It’s best let them know how their drug and alcohol problem is impacting you and the people that love them. Telling a person who uses drugs or alcohol excessively the impact of their behaviour will have a powerful effect on most people. It’s likely to inspire them to change.

Be strong, be patient, be kind and firm.

The process of supporting somebody through the journey of overcoming drug and alcohol addiction is a long one. Never give up on them. Be kind to them. But be strong with them. Drug use is illegal and it’s OK to make that statement. While alcohol consumption is no illegal, excessive alcohol consumption is often harmful to the person themselves it’s also often harmful to the people who are closest to them. Be strong in letting them know that they drug and alcohol abuse is not OK with you. However don’t forget to be kind and patient as overcoming drug and alcohol problems often takes many months and sometimes years.

Safe supporting without being enabling.

Be careful not to enable people in your kindness.  As you try to help them it’s OK to let them know that you’re not OK with their use. You don’t have to enable people who abuse drugs and alcohol if you support them.

Oftentimes drug and alcohol users will attempt to manipulate you, or deceive you so that you enable them to continue their problem. Sometimes carers are frightened to let the person file and hit rock bottom. In many cases you have to let people fail so they decide to pick themselves up and overcome their problem.  protecting people who abuse drugs and alcohol from the consequences of their decisions often perpetuates the problem.

It’s important to realise however that in some cases you may need to rescue someone so they don’t harm themselves. It’s often a difficult decision however you may simply need to assess for yourself whether you think the person is safe or not. If you believe they are unsafe then you should act to protect them. On the other hand if you believe that they are safe then you may need to let them file so they can find the motivation comma and determination to rise above their issues and get their lives back