Mental Health: How to Help a Friend with Addiction

mental health how to help someone with addiction

We’ve all heard about diseases such as alcoholism or drug addiction. However, fewer people are aware of alternative conditions caused by the same mechanisms of dependence, which may have nothing in common with the substances themselves. If you’d like to learn more about how to help a person with addiction, keep reading.

#1 – Types of Addiction

Chains and locks are common images that spring to mind when we think of the topic of addiction. Let’s face it, a dependent person is not free, given they are a prisoner of the problem.

Experts often explain the addiction types as chemical and non-chemical (behavioural): The first type is about drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking, and any other habits caused by constant consumption of psychoactive substances. The second type is about gambling dependence caused by casinos, internet addiction, workaholism, sex, and other activities.

Even though second-type addictions are classified as “non-chemical”, a certain “chemistry” of the brain is involved in them. For addicted people, getting what they want like playing Microgaming casinos, becomes a human experiences pleasure – or even euphoric due to the powerful release of endorphins. In the future, the person wants to return to this state again and again. So, no matter what kind of addiction we are talking about, similar processes occur in the brain.

Interestingly, the same mechanism can work in the opposite way. For instance, when we find a cool activity or do our favourite job we remember the state of joy, satisfaction and strive for it again and again. Only in this case, a person gets a positive experience from their dependence.

#2 – How to Best Behave with an Addicted Person?

The main rule for the close people of the addict is to continue to live a full life, go to the gym or yoga, meet friends, visit the theatre, and travel. You need to “put on an oxygen mask” on yourself first, because to help people with an addiction, you need to be strong. Below are some tips on how to deal with an addicted person:

  • Trust the addict in the process of recovery – mistrust and suspicion often cause anger, which may result in returning to bad habits.

  • Minimise your advice and interference in their personal affairs. Someone else’s experience does not work. Be close to your loved one or friend, but do not do everything for him/her.

  • The addict can manipulate you in the process of recovery, so make sure that they do not shift their tasks onto you. Rehabilitation therapy is a long and painstaking process, you need to understand this and not to let the addict relax.

  • If the addict’s mood changes, there is no need to panic. Mood swings are caused by changes in the body’s biochemistry. Since all of these processes are irreversible, you just need your close person to learn to cope with his/her emotions and bring oneself back to the norm.

  • Do not store alcohol or other mind-altering substances in the house – this may provoke them and trigger their addiction to alcohol. Use your example of absolute sobriety to show how to behave. Not words but actions, are best to convince the addict to change their behaviours.

  • Do not argue with the addict, learn to resolve conflict or controversial issues constructively.

  • Do not use blackmail. Expressions like “If you love me, you will do it” won’t affect the conscience of the addict, it will only increase their feelings of guilt. This may also worsen the situation.

Remember: if you or your loved one are in trouble, the sooner you seek qualified help, the more chances you have to change the situation for the better.

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