One of the widest misconceptions about drug addiction is that it affects no one but the addicted individual himself. In actual fact, drug addiction affects the individual’s family members and friends just as extensively, and sometimes even more extensively, than it affects the individual himself. Whereas the drug addicted individual can be blind to the full extent of their drug use problems and can be trapped in the belief that their drug use is necessary for their survival, his family members and friends can see quite clearly the many damaging effects caused by his drug use. Even worse, they often don’t know what to do about it.
Helping vs Enabling
It is not unusual for family members and friends to ignore a loved one’s drug addiction problems for some time, either hoping that they will go away on their own or that their loved one will get the help they need in order to resolve them. Some of the reasons for this attitude may include a lack of understanding about what drug addiction is and how it must be addressed and resolved, disbelief that one’s loved one can actually be willingly destroying their life, and worry over pushing their loved one away through a confrontation or intervention. Unfortunately, by refusing to help their loved one get the treatment they need to recover from drug addiction, family members are actually enabling their loved one to continue their addiction.
By helping a drug addict one means that they are aiding the individual in fully addressing and resolving this problem. By enabling a drug addict one means that they are allowing the individual to continue their drug use through direct or indirect support–refusing to mention that it’s a problem that won’t be tolerated or even providing financial support to the individual. Obviously family members and friends should always desire to help their drug addicted loved one, and what they don’t often recognize is that staging an intervention can actually be therapeutic for them as well.
The Benefits of Staging an Intervention
Many people understand that drug interventions are emotional confrontations of a drug-abusing or addicted loved one that seeks to press them into getting the treatment they have not chosen for themselves. It is certainly true that an intervention can be a difficult emotional process for all involved, but it should also be gentle and supportive, so that the loved one understands above all else that their family members and friends are concerned for their well-being and interested in supporting them through their recovery. It can be an opportunity for family members and friends to experience the relief they seek.
Part of the general pattern of an intervention should include telling the drug addicted individual exactly how their drug problems have affected themselves and others. This is an opportunity for family members and friends to speak openly and honestly to their loved one (albeit always gently and with compassion) about how their drug addiction has adversely affected their own lives, and how they are unwilling to tolerate it in the future. This alone can be highly therapeutic, as it rids the relationship of any hidden communications or emotions that may have existed to date and creates a foundation of honesty upon which to build a better and healthier future relationship.
When an intervention has successfully led into a drug addict’s rehabilitation treatment, family members and friends can experience great relief in knowing that they took action to help their loved one make the changes necessary to improve their life. They can also reach out and find others who are working through the same challenges that they are–and gain support from others who are likewise helping a loved one to overcome their drug addiction problems.