The most important step for the family and friends of an addict is to realize that they should not wait for the problem to “go away on its own.” They shouldn’t just hope the person will “get over it” or wait for them to “hit bottom.” What it means to help someone get into recovery is to take action now. After all, when you see someone choking do you watch and hope they stop or do you go to their aid and help?
Motivation is an important first step toward any action or change in behavior. The saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink” sums up getting an addict into recovery perfectly. People generally will not perform desired behaviors unless or until they are motivated to do so.
Denial is an essential component of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol – think about it, none of us really like to admit we have a problem with ANYTHING, and in the addictive process this becomes all the more pronounced. Denial is a major barrier in the way of overcoming addiction if they are able to get past this point then they will be more open to speaking to an independent professional in confidence. If they remain convinced that there is no problem, it is highly unlikely that they will speak to anyone.
Establishing trust with an addicted person is a very difficult process especially when they have already betrayed your trust. However, establishing trust both ways is an important step in helping them to think about change.
Avoid the following trust destroyers:
- Nagging, demanding, criticizing and lecturing the addicted person.
- Yelling, name calling, and bullying (even when you’re stressed out).
- Engaging in addictive behaviors yourself, even in moderation (you’ll look like a hypocrite), practice what you preach!
Those suffering from addiction are much more likely to change if they feel that the decision has been their own rather than an “order” from someone-else, or that they have to do it just to keep the peace or to make someone else happy. In all reality, people almost always need to make the decision to change especially with addiction for them.