Addiction Support - Drug Addiction

A very important part of the treatment journey is support: it is very difficult to beat an addiction on your own and whilst some people manage to do this by either abstaining or going ‘cold turkey’, the vast majority of people find that they need help and support whilst doing so.

What type of support?

Support can come from a variety of sources which include family, friends, counsellor, community drugs team, therapist or a local support group.

Don’t underestimate the power of these as many people find it helpful to have someone to talk to or to lean on during the treatment process. It can be an emotional rollercoaster and there will be occasions when the cravings are so strong that you are tempted to give.

This is where your support network comes in. It is a good idea to develop a network if you can as this will help you through both the good and bad times. Don’t try and do this on your own. Drug addiction is a complex situation which involves changing many aspects of your life, for example the way you handle stress or problems in your life. We all handle problems in different ways but knowing that this is a flashpoint for your addiction is something that needs to change.

Making this or other changes to your life is a major step to take and one that is easier if done in conjunction with others.

Seeking help is not a sign of weakness or failure. In fact it can be a sign of strength as it takes a lot of courage to face up the fact that you have an addiction and want to get treatment for it. Admitting this to yourself is half the battle but telling others is the other half.

Providing support to others

If you know of someone, for example a friend or colleague who has developed an addiction then you can help and support them to kick their habit.

This is only possible if they have admitted they have a problem or have accepted what others have told them. If they do then they are now in the position of getting help.

This is where you come in. It is a case of being non-judgemental, keeping an open mind and being aware that addicts will deny or lie about their addiction.

You are dealing with someone who is effectively controlled by their addiction. Whether that is cocaine, alcohol, smoking or caffeine, this addiction will have taken over their personality as well as their lives and you can find yourself dealing with someone very different from before their addiction.

Drug addicts can become selfish, self-centred and obsessed as a result of their habit and may indulge in behaviour which you find unacceptable. Some turn to crime to fund their habit or are living a lifestyle which is shocking or alien to your way of thinking.

So it is a case of remaining impartial and approachable but providing ‘tough love’ if necessary.

If the addict in question is a young person then their parents will be able to provide this support. If you are the parent of a child who has become addicted to a substance then what is mentioned here will apply. Young people as well as adults are capable of deception and you need to stress from the outset that you will help and support them as long as they are honest with you.

The relationship is one of trust between you and the addict.

This is not an easy thing to do and there will be times when it is harder than others. If things get to a stage where they are impacting in a negative way on your health, relationships or life then re-consider your position. It may be that a trained counsellor is better able to serve their interests.

If you act as a confidant to someone with an addiction, there are a variety of ways in which you can help. These include:

  • Being a good listener and offering advice if necessary
  • Encouraging them to stay motivated
  • Encouraging them to attend a support group meeting and accompany them to these.
  • Accompany them to appointments with their GP, community drugs team meeting or counselling.
  • Share any experiences with them. If you are helping a smoker and smoke yourself then suggest that you both help each other. Sometimes it is easier to break a habit in the company of someone else.
  • If they are a drug addict then mention about needle exchanges or drug replacement therapy.
  • Stay with them or provide somewhere safe if they choose to go ‘cold turkey’.
  • Suggest complimentary therapies or alternative forms of treatment.
  • Suggest that they keep a diary or a blog of their experiences.

Another option is that of a support group.

Support Groups

There are plenty of support groups - both national and local which cover a wide range of subjects.

A support group is basically, a cluster of people with a common interest who arrange to meet on a regular basis to share experiences. The idea behind this is to enable people to talk through any issues they have related to their addiction in a non-judgemental environment.

People who feel ashamed or guilty about their addiction then know that they are not alone in these feelings and are able to share them with others. A support group is useful in that it prevents isolation, helps with motivation and allows people to get back to a normal way of life.

What is important in this is honesty: the members of the group must be honest about their addiction as well ensuring that anything that is said is told in confidence. Confidentiality is important as is trust.

Most groups specialise in a specific addiction, for example smoking or are aimed at a particular age group, e.g. young people.

An addict can be referred to a support group via their GP or can find a group themselves using the internet or other sources. In certain cases, an addict is ordered to attend a support group or go for counselling as part of their sentence for a drug related crime. This is often used in drink driving cases.

Many groups have an online presence and use forums or blogs so that people can discuss their addiction in an anonymous manner. These are very useful for people who are reticent about sharing their experiences in front of a group of people but are happy to do so in a chat room or a forum.

What is particularly useful here is that a support group enables addicts to discuss their problems with others who know what it is like to be in this situation. They have an understanding which non-addicts don’t.


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