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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Carter

How to help someone through addiction

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, half of people suffering with addiction also have a mental health disorder. Mental illnesses affect mood, thinking and behavior. Mental illnesses can range from anxiety to schizophrenia.

This is part of the reason it is almost impossible to overcome addiction without a mental health professional. Finding triggers, learning what things to avoid, discovering why an addiction took hold, why someone was interesting in experimenting, etc is where a mental health professional comes in. They have training and are not emotionally involved unlike family and friends.

Professionals can help an addict learn how to rewire their brain to live a life free from addiction. Many use a 12 step program along with personalized therapy to help overcome their addiction.

What are the 12 Steps

  1. Honesty- With yourself and others about your addiction and the power it holds

  2. Faith- Higher power that allows healing

  3. Surrender- Give your fight to the higher power

  4. Soul Searching- Identify problems and how it affected them and everyone around them

  5. Integrity- Admit wrongs to themselves and others

  6. Acceptance- Willing to look in the mirror, see everything and be okay with it

  7. Humility- Asking higher power for help

  8. Willingness- Make list of thos you harmed before coming into recovery

  9. Forgiveness- Ask others for forgiveness

  10. Maintenance- Look out for triggers, never let guard down

  11. Making Contact- Find higher purpose

  12. Service- Carry the message to others

The Stages of Change for people suffering with addiction

According to Michael Brody-Waite, 40-60% of drug users relapse. The key to preventing relapse is finding new friends to support you and who you can support on this journey. Don't give up on those who relapse, he relapsed four times before starting a thriving non-profit for drug users and found lasting sobriety.

Change is a process, people suffering with addiction and loved ones need to make space for that to happen. It is also a cycle. It is like riding a bike or learning to walk, not everyone gets it right the first time. But falling allowed each of us the opportunity to learn from the fall, get back up and try again.

What those struggling with addiction need to know

Your success is yours. The statistics that say those struggling with addictions are unsuccessful are just numbers they don't reflect personal agency or life experiences. We don't know what those other people were going through and why they didn't succeed.

Are you ready for help

If you or someone you know needs to talk about their addiction, the National Drug Helpline is here for you 24/7. Addictions can be legal or illegal, they will still talk to you without you getting into legal trouble.


If you are a loved one and want to join an online support group, click here.

The best support for loved ones is individual counseling, however support groups can make you feel less alone.

What people suffering with addiction want you to know

They are in a shame cycle. They know they are stuck and they don't need your judgement. Addiction is the common enemy and not the user. They feel powerless, want to overcome it and feel alone.

They don't need you airing their dirty laundry, this is one way of enabling them. Telling them and others how they are and will be gives them permission to be that way instead of giving them to opportunity to try to be better. Let them have natural consequences and know they are loved.

You can have boundaries while also loving them. Choose your boundaries wisely and stick to them. This means you want to make sure you don't get so strict with your boundary that you are stuck being either the bad person or letting your loved one walk all over you.

Meeting someone where they are at is about empathy but even more so we can recognize where someone is by giving them mall amounts of trust as a sign of mutual understanding. Giving low stakes trust such as asking for help with small tasks or giving them a small opportunity that will not harm us if the ball is dropped is a way to build back trust. If the small trust is broken then we know that our loved one is not ready for change and we can try again later.

Don't push them before they are ready, it will backfire. Let natural consequences take place.

These two videos from Put Down the Shovel will guide you through what is helping and what is enabling.

You are not alone, no matter if you are the one struggling with addiction or are watching someone suffer. You are FOUND right here with us and we will help you on your journey. Please reach out if you need more information or a friend.

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