If you’re like most people, you deal with stress in your own way. The right coping strategy for one person might be meditation, yoga, or even just squeezing in a quick nap during lunchtime. For someone else, this might involve writing in a journal when they get home from work each day or venting to friends about their problems when they’re worried about something.
But a person who struggles with addiction doesn’t usually have healthy ways of coping with their stress. Instead, they use maladaptive behaviors like abusing drugs or alcohol to mask their problems, avoid them by zoning out in front of the TV for hours on end, or self-injure because they feel overwhelmed and don’t know how else to manage their feelings. In the beginning, using drugs or alcohol to cope may have been a gradual process. It could have started after a stressful week at work, or when someone experienced a sudden loss and was overcome with grief.
In this situation, it’s time to get help if you notice your loved one is…
- Spending more and more time alone
- Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from friends or family members
- Suddenly starting a new hobby, changing their appearance, or even moving to another town without an explanation
- Gambling excessively, stealing money, lying about drug use, or missing work because of their addiction
If this sounds like your loved one or someone you know, it’s important to intervene as soon as possible. But what can you do to help a person who is struggling with addiction, especially if they don’t want to acknowledge that they have a problem?
Here are some tips for helping your loved ones get the support they need
- First and foremost, it’s important to remain calm. If you appear upset or angry about your loved one’s drug use, they’ll feel judged and be less likely to listen to your concerns.
- Establish a routine by having family dinners together, going for walks, or meeting for coffee in the mornings before work. This will give you an opportunity to communicate with each other on a regular basis without putting too much pressure on either of you.
- Acknowledge your loved one’s feelings. If they’re feeling anxious, be empathetic instead of brushing it off as a sign that they need to quit drugs. This will help them feel understood and supported by you.
- Recognize that your loved one might not want to stop using drugs or alcohol at first, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on them. Instead, be patient with them and continue to reach out by showing you’re there for them when they’re ready to stop drinking or using drugs.
- When your loved one does start to open up about their addiction, avoid using judgmental or confrontational language. Instead, try saying something like, “It sounds like you’re feeling really discouraged right now.”
- It’s important for you to take care of yourself as well. If you feel overwhelmed or depressed because of your loved one’s drug use, consider meeting with a therapist or talking to your doctor about how best to cope.
- Finally, if your loved one is willing, suggest attending an addiction recovery program. A center like Pinnacle Recovery Center can provide group therapy sessions, individual counseling, and other treatment programs that can help your loved one stop abusing drugs or alcohol for good.
But don’t wait until things get out of hand before taking action. If you notice the warning signs of addiction in your loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
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