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4 Tips to Help a Loved One Dealing With Addiction

Did you know that as of 2020, about half of Americans 12 years or older have tried illegal substances at least once? Unfortunately, one in four who did now has a substance use disorder (SUD).

SUD, like alcohol use disorder (AUD), is one of the most common types of addiction disorder. There are also behavioral addictions, including compulsive gambling.

If you have a loved one dealing with addiction, your help and support could be lifesaving.

Below, we’ve listed tips to help you help your loved one recover from addiction, so please read on.

1. Don’t Mistake Addiction for Mental Illness

Many signs of addiction disorders are similar to those of mental illnesses. For example, depression, AUD, and SUD can lead to mood changes, isolation, and fatigue. Having suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide are also symptoms these three disorders share.

It’s never a good thing to assume someone has an addiction just because of their symptoms. If you tell a loved one you know about their addiction when they don’t have it may even prompt them to take that route.

2. Prepare Yourself to Communicate Effectively

If you’re 100% certain a loved one has an addiction disorder, talk to them ASAP. When you do, use “I” and “we” instead of just “you.”

The first two affirm your presence and position in the relationship. Saying “we” also reminds your loved ones you’re part of their life and willing to team up with them to work things out.

By contrast, they might take it as nagging or complaining if you say “you” all the time. They may also think you’re excluding yourself from the equation. That may make them feel even more isolated.

So, instead of saying, “Your addiction is going to kill you,” you can say, “I worry about your health,” or “I don’t want you to be sick.” You can also tell them, “We’re going to get through this,” instead of, “You only think about yourself.”

3. Avoid Enabling Behaviors

Coping with addiction can be a challenge if people enable the person with the disorder.

To enable means to do things for a person with an addiction that they could otherwise do themselves. For example, let’s say your partner has AUD, which causes them to be too hungover to help with house chores. If you take over their responsibilities and even make them breakfast, that’s enabling.

Enabling doesn’t help with managing addiction. Instead, it often causes a person with the disorder to delay facing their problem.

4. Consider Professional Help

Knowing when it’s time for a loved one to seek rehab can make all the difference between a life and death situation. Addiction disorders, after all, significantly increases premature mortality rates. For example, AUD and SUD can lead to chronic health problems and potential overdoses.

So if your loved one’s health has degraded, please convince them to seek help ASAP.

Support a Loved One Dealing With Addiction

Please remember that people dealing with addiction disorders have a higher suicide risk. And it’s not just those with AUD or SUD; 1 in 5 people with a gambling addiction also attempts suicide.

So if you have a loved one with an addiction disorder, show them support as soon as possible. Talk to them, avoid enabling them, and convince them to get help instead of criticizing them.

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