The last thing that we want to experience is drug addiction sucking the life out of our family members. It pains to see the people you love to get into trouble because of the hold that drugs have on them. Sometimes they get erratic and unreasonable, and since you love them, you don’t know what to do.
It is normal to feel responsible for them and look for ways to fix the problem. It is also normal to think that there is something you could have done to prevent this. Here are a few suggestions to help with the situation:
- Stop blaming yourself
Different factors lead people to drug addiction. Some of the reasons could be attributed to family issues, bad company or personal experiences that the addict is unable to cope with. Parents usually have the hardest time coming to terms with the situation and as sole protectors may feel guilty for not protecting their children.
Blaming yourself will do very little to help the situation.
The addict might lay blame you or remind of one event that caused them to take that path. This should not get to you. Addiction does not come from outside sources; it is a problem from within – it is a disease.
- Share and seek professional assistance
Drug addiction might be a new experience in the family and you might not know to do. Dealing with drug addicts is daunting; you need all the strength you can garner.
Do not keep it to yourself. Find a trusted person to lean on. It could be your pastor, a close relative, a counsellor, a friend or a group of people going through the same thing. Sharing will protect you from mental health problems such as depression.
Look for professional help and seek advice on how to help your loved one. Mostly, drug addicts are willing to reform after hitting rock-bottom or getting into trouble. During such times, refer them to medical assistance.
- Learn more about addiction
Knowing the facts about drug addiction will help you notice the patterns and teach you how to cope. You will be better equipped to deal with the problem, know how to talk to addicts, how to protect your children, what to avoid doing, when and how to make interventions, to identify the triggers that led them to abuse and how to make them know that you are there for them.
During this time, get familiar with the rehabilitation centres around you and the methods they use in helping the drug addicts recover. In Kenya, NACADA offers information about drug and substance abuse and also classifies the rehabs in the regions they are found in.
- Give them Tough love
Set your boundaries. You cannot condone bad behaviour, no matter how much you love them. Many drug addicts will lie, steal and even manipulate in order to get money to purchase the drugs. This will drain you and negatively affect the lives of other members. Addicts need to know when they have crossed the line. If they do, you need to let them know and pull away for some time or indefinitely.
Do not give them money or cover up whenever they have lied or committed a crime. This will only encourage them to further abuse the drugs. Be firm with them.
- Take care of yourself
This is very important. Don’t focus all your energy on this problem. You still have school, bills to pay, kids to take care of and other things that you need to do. Eat well, exercise, read books, learn that new recipe and hang out with friends.
If you take care of yourself, you’ll have more energy to deal with their addiction problem. You need a clear head and positivity. Ensure that your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health is protected as you deal with the drug addict.
- Understand that the recovery journey is not easy
Sometimes the addicts will have a relapse. They will go back into bad behaviour after you had thought they had recovered. This is normal.
Research indicates that one in ten addicts will experience relapse more than five times before completely recovering. It is as twice heartbreaking for them as it is for the family members.
Don’t show them disappointment or resentment. Instead, encourage them and show compassion throughout. It is not easy but if you don’t give up, you are likely to give them a stronger reason to quit abuse. Check out How to Deal With a Drug Addicted Family Member or Loved One for more information on dealing with a drug-addicted family member.
Need more tips on dealing with addiction? Check out how to overcome addiction