Anyone who has experienced life with a friend or family member suffering from addiction knows that once the addiction has taken over, it often takes reaching a rock bottom before that person will take action, if even then. From the outside, this idea of a rock bottom is absolutely terrifying, which leads us to ask – what can we do before it gets to this point? How do you help an addict who doesn’t want your help? Read on to find out some basic pointers on how to get through to an addict before it’s too late.
1. HAVE A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF ADDICTION
Before even attempting to approach an addict regarding their substance abuse or related behaviours, one must have a basic understanding of addiction. A typical response from someone who is in the throes of addiction might be, you couldn’t possibly understand what I am going through. While this is inevitably true in many ways, you shouldn’t approach someone who you are trying to help without first trying to familiarise yourself with their addiction disorder. If an addict appears to not want your help, it is very likely the addiction talking more than the person you know and love.
First off, addiction is a disease. Many people who are inexperienced with addiction do not treat addiction as a disease and maintain the idea that the addict can simply use willpower and personal strength to beat their addiction. On the contrary, the disease of addiction takes over the mind and body on a chemical level, reprogramming the brain and body to believe that they are in need of a substance in order to survive.
This new reality can not simply be switched on and off, just as any other disease can not be cured solely through mental fortitude. Additionally, certain drugs like heroin cause severe withdrawal symptoms if someone abstains from taking them and without proper care and medical supervision, giving up these drugs can actually be quite dangerous for the user.
2. PRACTICE EMPATHY
It isn’t just enough to understand what addiction is, in order to truly reach out and help someone, you must also do your best to imagine how the person may feel. Empathy is defined as the ability to identify and understand another person’s situation, feelings, and motives – basically imagining what it must be like to be the other person. Empathy can greatly improve communication among people.
Empathy and sympathy are two different things. Sympathy is more about feeling sorry for somebody while empathy is about trying to understand what it is they are going through. Often those who have been affected by or are fed up with the behaviour of addicts lack sympathy, but empathy can actually help to counteract their cynicism.
On the flip side, empathy is also a vital component of recovery for addicts. If you are successful in supporting your friend or family member towards the path of recovery, most recovery programmes work to teach the addict empathy. Inactive addiction, an addict is unable to feel empathetic regarding the pain and suffering they are putting their loved ones through, but during recovery, empathy is reintroduced so that addicts better understand the results of their addiction-related behaviours and are therefore much less likely to repeat them in the future. This new understanding of empathy also compliments the eighth and ninth steps of the 12-step programme focusing on making amends.
3. CONSIDER TIMING AND DOSAGE
When trying to help an addict who doesn’t want your help, timing and dosage are two key elements to be considered. While the behaviours of an addict might enrage you, and frustration leads you into trying to help, this timing is likely not appropriated. It is better to approach someone who you are trying to help when you are both calm and when you have a real sense of what you want to communicate.
Dosage must also be considered when you want to effectively help an addict. Approaching someone after they have just received bad news or in a public setting might set them off or cause them to tune out. However, since addicts are more often than not in denial of their addiction, having multiple people approach them at the same time in a controlled setting and with the same message might help to reiterate the fact that their addiction is a serious problem.
It is, of course, important you consider what is most appropriate for you in your individual case. Formal interventions pay particular attention to both timing and dosage and if you find that you are unable to help the addict in your life on your own, it may be a good idea to stage an intervention with a professional interventionist.
4. KNOW YOUR NEXT STEP
Perhaps the most important thing you need to know if you want to help an addict is – what is the next step? It is vital to know and communicate that the intention of the conversation or intervention is not to place blame or scold someone for their behaviour, but to provide real, feasible assistance to improve the situation. Familiarise yourself with treatment options and treatment centres in your area, but also think outside of the box.
For many people, receiving addiction treatment in a foreign setting, away from triggers and familiar people and situations, can greatly improve their recovery experience. Also consider possible rebuttals from the addict regarding cost, time off from work, childcare, etc. and be ready with solutions for these potential barriers so they are left without excuses to get help.
ADDICTION RECOVERY AT THE DAWN REHAB THAILAND
The Dawn Medical Rehab and Wellness Centre offers quality addiction treatment programmes in a luxury setting and provides a safe refuge from toxic influences and triggers. For more information on addiction recovery for your loved one, or advice on how to help an addict who doesn’t want your help, please contact us today for a no-cost and confidential consultation.