When a friend or a friend is in need, for most people, first course of action is to help and support them. It’s an unwritten law – friends and family stand by each other through thick and thin. Finding out that a friend or a loved one is suffering from addiction is as thin as it gets.
A well-known fact is that addiction is a tough guest to deal with. No one disputes it, even if they themselves have never had the misfortune to be addicted themselves or even been in contact with someone who has. We all know its hard, it’s taxing, its draining and very depressing. So we try to help. We do everything, to the best of our abilities to help the addict deal with his daily struggles fighting an addiction. Yet we should weigh both positives and negatives when it comes to helping someone with an addiction. Too many people enable addicts to continue their unhealthy fixation on their drug of choice, sometimes perpetuating the addiction itself. They mean the best for the addict, always with an intent to help, but there are a few things that people help addicts with, that actually contribute to the addiction and are extremely detrimental to a full recovery.
Elephant in the room
Often people will try to avoid topics that mention or contribute to addiction or drug use when an addict is present. Even if the addict is at risk at losing his cool and becoming angry during a conversation about addiction, simply ignoring the fact is not going to make it go away. Walking on eggshells when an addict is around will just make him feel like he has some contagious disease and often results in self-pity and continued drug use.
Claiming addiction is just a phase
That is the general approach to a great many parents when they find out their teenage son or daughter is using and abusing drugs. An addiction is not something a person can “grow out of” or “get over”. Addiction does not simply go away after a certain milestone is reached, don’t fool yourselves.
Covering for the addict
A severely hung-over addict that is going through withdrawal symptoms may not be able to go to work or school, so the first thing most loved ones do is cover for them. Calling in work or school to cover for them may save them from flunking their subject or getting fired in the short run, but it is very counter-productive for the addict. Facing hard truths and realities is a lesson that is much more important at that point in time than a satisfactory grade at school or a happy boss.
Financing their lifestyle
When an addict approaches their friends or family for a hand-out or a loan, odds are that money will never go towards groceries, education, gas or whatever else reason was cited during their plea. It goes straight to their dealer, who is more than happy to take that money from you. Addicts will do most anything to chase their next high. Bad, immoral and illegal things. Lying about where that money will go is definitely on the tame side of this spectrum.
Catering for their mess
Dirty laundry, broken needles and empty dime bags in every corner. A typical scene for an addict, one that is hard to stomach for moms, dads and friends everywhere. Cleaning an addicts mess may help him cheer up, but it does nothing to further their path to sobriety. An addict has an addictive personality, so when all their mess is cleaned up for them, after a while it becomes a norm and they begin to rely on that. The addict needs to face the consequences of their addiction.
Being a close friend to an addict or even a family member, it is important to remember that addict became an addict because he had little self-control and became dependent on one substance or another. Likewise, good deeds and a helping hand can enable the addict to stay in the ditch, instead of pulling him out. Appealing to a basic human decency does not work when it comes to addiction, and that should not be held against the addict either. The craving and voices that go through an addicts head is beyond that, it transcends social norms and established truths. When an addict needs, he needs, no matter what. A bit of tough love can go a long way.