There is no denying that addiction has a widespread impact. Not only does it affect the person in active addiction, it also affects their family, friends, coworkers, and community. Everyone must deal with the consequences whether they want to or not.
Unfortunately addiction still comes with many stigmas. Families don’t always receive the type of support they need, nor do they always feel as though they can talk about their problems. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, family and friends rally around them with support. The same cannot always be said when someone is diagnosed with a substance use disorder. However these families should also know that they have people on their side who want to help. Addiction is a disease that can be managed through treatment at a luxury drug and alcohol rehab, and there are plenty of people who turn their lives around and enter into long-term recovery.
There are numerous ways you can show your support:
Be there for them. This doesn’t mean just in thought, or quickly rattling off an “I’m here if you need anything” and zipping out the door. Your physical presence can make a difference. It can be comforting to have a close friend nearby. It’s okay if you’re unsure of exactly what to say or do. You don’t always have to have the right answers or responses. Just listening and letting them get things off of their chest can be a huge source of support. They may just want to talk and put their thoughts into words. Be yourself because that’s what they love about you and what may brighten their day.
Use empathy with caution. Don’t say “I know what you’re going through” if you really don’t. It can be patronizing to compare something unrelated to the challenges they’re going through. Plus, everyone’s experience is different. You can say that you’re sorry they’re going through a rough time, or you feel for them, but choose your words carefully. Expressing genuine emotion is one thing, but don’t try to fake your way through it.
Don’t judge. You have no idea what led to their loved one’s addiction or the circumstances surrounding things. Your friend or family member may be angry, frustrated, or upset, but try to stay neutral. You don’t want to jump to conclusions or fuel the fire. Educate yourself about addiction as much as you can so you have a better understanding of what they’re going through and how to be supportive. This can help to clear up any misconceptions you didn’t even realize you had.
Offer assistance. If you want to help, ask what they need. Maybe they need someone to watch the kids while they go to therapy or support group meetings. Bringing over a meal could ease stress when they have a busy day or a lot on their mind. You could also plan little outings to help get their mind off of things and allow them to relax. If they’re wrapped up in worrying about their loved one and trying it keep things under control, they may be neglecting their own wellbeing. Go out for coffee, get your nails done, or shoot some hoops. Do something you know they’ll enjoy. Taking a break can be good for them and help them to clear their mind.
Be mindful. If you’re hosting a get-together, make it alcohol-free. Create a safe environment where they feel more comfortable. This can ease their worry and allow them to bring their loved one along without putting them in a more tempting or awkward position. Keep plenty of other drink options on hand and come up with some fun and engaging activities so everyone stays busy. If you’re planning a trip out, take a few minutes to think ahead and keep their needs in mind.
Become an advocate. Even if you don’t have a loved one struggling with addiction or in recovery, you can still support prevention and treatment. Pay attention to what’s happening in the news and on the forefront of the addiction field. Speak up about things that matter and help to break down barriers and misconceptions. Show your support and solidarity with families who are dealing with these issues because every voice counts.
You never know when you or someone you love will be affected by addiction. Chapters Capistrano recognizes the need to support families and offers family programs as a part of the treatment and recovery process. They work with clients and their families to provide the customized care they need. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 today to learn more about the help and support available. It’s not too late to start a new chapter.