How can I help someone addicted to drugs and/or alcohol? In order for you to help a loved one or friend you first need to understand the nature of drug and alcohol addiction and how it changes the user. When a person first takes drugs or alcohol they have no intention of becoming an addict. They are typically using out of curiosity, peer pressure, boredom, etc. After they experience the effects of the drugs they then choose to take it again, and again and again. This cycle persists for some time until they feel that it is no longer a choice they are making but a compulsion. Drugs and alcohol change the user's brain function, hindering their thinking and ability to rationalize. Their body will begin to depend on the drugs or alcohol they consume to feel "normal" and without it they just don't feel like themselves.
Drug addiction and alcoholism is a process that takes time, effort and determination. While the initial process of using and abusing drugs and alcohol is often fun for the user they are proceeding down a slippery slope. With each use their body and mind become reliant on the drug. Before long they find that they are turning to drugs or alcohol no matter what is going on in their life. What was once just to celebrate, lift their spirits or alleviate boredom now becomes a ritual that they go through daily, sometimes hourly depending on the drug or substance being abused. The addict focuses their day around getting, using and coming down from drugs or alcohol.
Know that it is not because the person you care about has a lack of willpower, doesn't love you or wants to see you suffer that they continue in their self-destructive ways. Their actions are not a reflection of what you "didn't do" or what you "drove them to." The addict continues to use drugs because their brain and body screams to them that they need the drugs or alcohol. The overwhelming urge to get high takes control and they block out just about everything else. To the addict, nothing is more important than getting and using their drug of choice.
How can I help someone addicted to drugs and/or alcohol? Now that you better understand the nature of drug addiction and alcoholism you can prepare yourself for working with your loved one. While you cannot control your drug addicted loved one's actions, you can control your own behavior and the things you say. Make a conscious choice not to belittle, fight or participate in verbal/physical confrontations. Not doing so gives you the upper hand and more power. The addict will not be able to turn your actions and words back on you if you have been able to keep your composure. They will also see you as a pillar of strength and not as a frustrated parent/friend/loved one who has had enough and is striking out at them.
Set limits and boundaries with the person you care about. Be sure that they are ones that you can stick to if the addicted person breaks the boundary. If you say one thing and then do another they will see your weakness and continue to abuse your love and generosity. Keep in mind that these boundaries and limits are intended to help your loved one accept the fact that they have a problem with drugs and need the help that you are offering. While it may be difficult to watch your loved one struggle (leaving them in jail due to a DUI, not lying or covering up for them with work, making excuses for them when they do not follow through yet again) it will benefit them in the long run. They will have to take responsibility for their actions and suffer the consequences. This technique often shines a light on their problem with drugs or alcohol and has them accepting help sooner rather than later.
How I can help someone addicted to drugs and/or alcohol? Once you understand the nature of your loved one's drug or alcohol addiction problem you should research the many different drug rehabilitation techniques and centers available. Does your drug addicted love one need inpatient long-term treatment or will they benefit from outpatient care where they can maintain their job/school and live at home? You may not be able to answer these questions for the addicted person so it is valuable to have information on the different options available to them when they decide to get help. They will be grateful for your legwork and it will make choosing what rehab facility to attend less overwhelming for them.