Going through addiction and drug abuse can be tough. It can be painful to see those close to you struggle with addiction. Sometimes, people may not know what to say to someone in recovery. Knowing how to help a recovering addict often proves to be challenging. But being a supportive shoulder to lean on is crucial.
When recovering from intense cases of drug addiction, it is important for individuals to have support. It’s best to have people who are willing to help a friend or loved one. A person struggling with addiction shouldn’t have to go through it alone. Luckily, there are a number of different ways you can help a loved one during recovery.
There are a lot of different factors that go into addiction recovery and it’s important to be aware of these before jumping to conclusions. Each person’s recovery will look different. The time and intensity of recovery will depend on the type of addiction. Some addictions and mental illnesses may need more patience and time than others.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction
Jump to Section
One of the very first steps to recovery is being able to spot addiction. If you are concerned that a loved one may be struggling with addiction, it is important to act fast and with a clear head. Sometimes certain drugs and addictions can have dangerous and unforeseen circumstances.
Not only is it important to spot an addiction but it’s important to be open and willing to help. Before we discuss how to help a recovering addict, let’s take a look at some of the red flags that may indicate an addiction in the first place.
Symptoms and behaviors vary between the type of drug addiction and the person. However, there are a number of common symptoms that can be seen within a lot of drug addiction cases. Common signs of a possible addiction include:
- Isolation or intense need to be alone
- Red (bloodshot) eyes, pale skin tone
- Constantly appears tired or depressed
- Financial problems (asking for money)
- Difficulty concentrating at work or school
- Decreased work and school performance
- Defensive behavior when asked about drug use
- General lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Neglect of responsibilities (school, work, relationships)
- Change in appearance (decreased hygiene, clothing changes)
1. Learn About Recovery and Treatment
One of the best ways to help a loved one’s recovery is to be informed and knowledgeable. Doing the research and knowing what to expect during their recovery can make a big difference. Seeking out trusted mental health resources and treatment options can be a great way to offer guidance and support while a loved one is on the road to recovery.
Free by The Sea offers a number of drug addiction and mental health resources for you and a loved one. Visit our website to learn more about treatment options and recovery plans for the future.
2. Make it Clear That You Want to Help
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say to someone in recovery. Letting them know you are there to help is a great start. In some cases, a loved one may approach you for help but sometimes they don’t.
Letting a loved one know that you are ready and willing to help can go a long way. In some cases, a loved one may feel embarrassed or scared to ask for help, that’s why you should make the first move. Letting them know up front that you want to help is a great way to establish support.
3. Be Ready and Available
You should keep in contact with the person on a frequent basis if possible. Let the person know when you are available, whether it be certain days or 24/7. Stick with your schedule and always check on them. Being available for the person is a great way to gain trust. Always be a shoulder to lean on during the process.
4. Discuss the Ways You Can Help
This is a great follow up after you’ve expressed the willingness to help. Let the person know the specific ways you can give assistance. Let them open up to you about their specific needs and expectations. Depending on the person and the addiction, ‘help’ may mean something entirely different.
Help can come in the form of daily medication reminders or simply a person to talk to. Whatever the case may be, understanding and creating these specific goals can be a huge help. Discuss and figure out ways you can help a person through recovery and treatment.
5. Focus on the Person, Not Just Their Addiction
Addiction can completely change a person’s life. Usually, a person may begin to lose interest in hobbies and passions they used to enjoy. While addiction might consume their mind, it’s important to help the person back onto the right track. After all, a person is not defined by their addiction.
Encourage them to try new hobbies and go back to old ones. Make sure they stay true to who they are as you continue to support their recovery process. Addiction does not have to be the end-all say-all in a person’s life, it is just a small part of a person and it can be overcome with help.
6. Always Be Honest
Constructive criticism and feedback can be incredibly useful during recovery. It is worth noting that you should try to get permission before offering honest feedback. Once the person is comfortable with your feedback you can give me honest pointers while still being supportive.
Honesty is key, especially with those struggling with addiction or mental illness. It can do more harm than good if you are not upfront about the situation. It is also worth mentioning that you should continue to be supportive and positive even when giving honest feedback.
7. Encourage Healthy Choices for the Mind and Body
There is more to recovery than just the physical aspect of it. It is important to be healthy in the mind and the body. Encouraging healthy habits like a balanced diet, exercise, nutrition, and social interactions can all be positive changes for the person.
Holistic practices are commonly used for specific cases of addiction. Holistic practices help to focus on the mind, body, and spirit. A healthy mind and body can be the difference between sobriety and relapse in some cases. Make sure to stay by their side and encourage these healthy habits throughout the road to recovery.
8. Know When to Seek Professional Assistance
At times it can be hard to know how to help a recovering addict. In certain situations, something may happen that requires you to act fast and smartly. It is not necessary for you to be a professional therapist to help a loved one in need. Knowing when to reach out for professional help can make a huge difference in some cases.
In cases of self-harm or harm to others, you may have no choice but to seek professional help for a loved one. This could potentially mean the difference between life and death. Facilities like Free by The Sea, offer excellent support and a staff of passionate qualified doctors and physicians.
9. Help with Taking Responsibility and Accountability
While there are many ways you can help a person during recovery, they have to help themselves. Encouraging responsibility is a great way for someone to be aware of their actions and the consequences that come from them. There are certain things a loved one must experience without you enabling them or saving them from the consequences.
Accountability in general is extremely important for recovery. In many cases, addicts can be in denial about their addiction and the effects caused by it. Even if a loved one doesn’t match this description, it’s important to maintain a level of accountability and responsibility.
10. Never Give Up
Addiction treatment and recovery are not easy by any means. It is a long and sometimes painful road to recovery. It is not only exhausting for the struggling addict but for you as well. Together, you have to be willing to sacrifice and be there for the person. Achieving a life free of an addiction or mental illness is fulfilling and can be the key to happiness.
Be patient and be that shoulder to lean on. The road to recovery may not be a fast one but it is certainly not a race. Living a better and healthier life is worth more than any amount of time. Never give up no matter what happens.
Be Aware of Relapses
Relapses can be life-threatening depending on the situation. A relapse occurs when a person falls back into using substances or alcohol again. Common signs of relapse in a recovering addict include:
- A sudden need for isolation
- Avoiding a sober support system
- Lack of interest in hobbies and activities
- A sudden doubt that the recovery process may not work
Relapses can occur because of certain triggers. Helping a recovering addict with moral support is one thing but being aware of a possible relapse can mean the difference between life or death. Luckily, there are ways to prevent relapse with prevention plans and sticking to the recovery process with you by their side.
How to Help a Recovering Addict: Contact Us!
We’ve shown you how to help a recovering addict, now it’s our turn. If you are concerned that a loved one or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental illness, Free by the Sea may be able to help. Contact us today and take the first step towards a happier, cleaner life.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.