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Loving an Addict or Alcoholic: How to Help Them & Yourself

Addiction is a vicious disease, and it often strikes the most sensitive of souls.

It forces people to relinquish their autonomy, it occupies their every thought, and dictates their every action.

To make matters worse, it’s rarely an isolated problem, and mostly stems from much deeper psychological, physical, and spiritual issues one cannot cope with without resorting to some form of self-destructive behavior that leads to long-term addiction.

However, as someone who loves an addict, you cannot be judgmental or dismissive of the person’s health crisis.

On the contrary, you need to make sure that they find their way back to self-care and self-love through your own kindness and care.

However, the journey of helping a loved one recover from addiction and hopefully never fall back down the same self-destructive path is a complex one and it requires patience and love.

When you decide to stay alongside the person you love struggling with addiction or alcoholism, both of which are two faces of the same wicked coin, you need to stay true to your decision.

Here are a few pieces of advice that can help you on this journey towards sobriety.

Recognise Symptoms of Addiction

When someone you love becomes addicted to any substance, by the time they even recognise the problem, they will hardly be inclined to just walk up to you and admit to having such a deep-rooted health problem.

Addicts and alcoholics often try to justify their behavior and they often live in denial for as long as their condition will allow it.

That is why the very first act of sobering needs to come from you, and a genuine conversation you will have with them when the time is right, before they do any permanent damage to themselves.

If you are not sure whether someone you love is truly suffering from addiction, here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Frequent lack of energy, exhaustion, and lethargy
  • Cognitive and memory troubles in everyday situations
  • Intoxication happens more frequently
  • Stealing and asking for money more often
  • Lack of emotional control, emotional outbursts
  • Lack of ordinary self-care habits and poor hygiene

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Seek Professional Help

Sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile with the fact that addiction is a very common problem.

And yet, close to 50% of the American population has a loved one addicted to drugs.

The same study showed that over 15 million people suffered from alcohol addiction alone, not to mention the youth dealing with opioid substance abuse.

The severity of the issue shows that we are not equipped to tackle such a health problem at home, on our own, with conversation and emotional support alone.

In response to such a crisis, rehab centres have created diverse programs to provide inpatient and outpatient support to all forms of addiction-based issues.

From medical assistance all the way to behavioural counselling, your loved one truly needs all-around support and guidance, and an intensive drug abuse treatment program to rehabilitate properly and prevent relapsing.

So, as soon as the problem is identified and you manage to address the issue in a conversation, take your time to find a reputable institution with a perfect program for your loved one.

Find a Local Support Group

Just like when you’re battling any other long-lasting disease, handling addiction requires a future-oriented mindset.

Since your loved one is perhaps still not ready to think ahead and they need to handle their condition one step at a time, you should look for local support groups devoted to helping people cope with their specific condition.

The goal of a support group is so much more than to provide weekly meetings and a safe place for addicts to share their experiences, fears, emotions, and all of the burden of addiction.

They also exist to provide a more optimistic outlook on their future, as they’ll be able to meet people who have found life outside of addiction and managed to stay sober for years on end.

This gives them hope and strength to fight through all of their temptations.

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Support Their Healthy Life Changes

Addiction is typically followed by a slew of other self-destructive behaviours, such as irregular sleeping patterns, poor nutrition, erratic behaviour, and as mentioned earlier, poor hygiene.

As soon as you find the right professional program for helping addicts and you manage to help your loved one admit to having an issue, you can also help them build and stay true to a different lifestyle, one based on health.

In order to heal, they need to provide their mind and their body with self-care practices that nurture and cherish their wellbeing, their body as well as their mind.

They can take up a physical activity such as jogging or a yoga class, start meditating, and meal-planning to ensure proper nutrition.

Your role shouldn’t be one of “policing” their behavior, but one of support and guidance, and you can be a “health buddy”, just like you would be a training partner to someone just starting out at the gym.

Finally, addiction is a lifelong battle, and if you notice someone you love is having such a problem, first make sure you are prepared to be there for them every step of the way.

And take care of yourself during the process, as addiction takes an emotional toll on everyone involved, and you need to protect your own wellbeing in order to be able to help an addict recover.