If you suspect a close friend or family member is suffering from a drug, alcohol or behavioural addiction then you’ll likely soon discover offering help is more difficult than you imagined. You may have even delayed offering help in the hope the family member or friend will eventually overcome the addiction him or herself. Ignoring the problem in this manner can have deadly consequences as the grip of addiction rarely goes away without professional intervention. And since you are likely one of few people who can help it is important you consider your options quickly before it is too late.
We recommend an approach which is helpful and considerate rather than unforgiving and intolerable. It is very unlikely your friend or family member consciously wishes to remain under the grip of addiction and certainly will not ‘use’ or drink in order to directly hurt your feelings. When you confront your friend or family member with your concerns it is vital you do not come across negatively. Instead take on the role of friendly counsellor and break your concerns softly. Above all avoid expressing negative emotions such as anger or blame. Focus on how your friend or family member’s addiction is affecting their life rather than your own. Try to avoid first person statements of opinion such as “I think” or “I know” and avoid judgements such as “you are” and “you have”.
It is equally important for you to state the facts as they stand. Try to offer up specific evidence. Keep a diary if necessary so that you can draw on your notes as examples. Do not reveal the fact you are maintaining a written diary as it may anger the sufferer. Clearly explain the health, financial and emotional consequences if the person in question continues to drink or use drugs. Explain addiction is considered an illness in much the same way as HIV or cancer.
Leverage your bargaining power to the best of your ability but in a matter-of-fact and non-threatening way. Explain not addressing the addiction could end in divorce, or if your employee is an addict explain continuing with the behaviour could result in damaging his or her career. If a parent is an addict then explain to continue to drink or use could result in losing access to children.
If possible try to draw on the power of a group. Try to retain the help of your wider family, work colleagues or friendship circle. The group could either act as a whole in a group meeting or group members could act individually. Family or friendship intervention can act as a powerful initiative for change.
Try to collect literature, advice leaflets and books on defeating addiction and leave these articles in places your friend or family member is likely to find them, perhaps around the home. You could recommend the services of local Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery or Alcoholics Anonymous groups and offer to attend the meeting with your loved one or friend. For alcoholics you could consider the services of Al-Anon . Other groups exist such as Cannabis Anonymous and Nicotine Anonymous.
Above all ensure your intervention is early. If you continue to ignore the addictive behaviour of your family member or friend you risk the behaviour evolving into a drawn out and potentially life threatening crisis. Early intervention could mean your friend or family member avoids developing a whole host of life threatening illnesses such as alcohol-related liver disease, brain damage and even HIV.
If you are effect by any of the issues above you should consider rehabilitation for your loved one. This treatment could save your friend or family member’s life and the cost of the treatment is usually miniscule in comparison to the cost associated with the continuation of addiction. Call Rehab 4 Addiction today on 0800 140 4690 or complete the enquiry form.