Addiction is a mental condition which comes with a compulsive repetition of a behavior. This behavior mostly entails the use of a drug or substances but it can also be other acts.
The addicted feels physical and emotional compulsion to engage in behavior to achieve a pleasurable mental or physical sensation. Addiction is dangerous as it ruins the quality of life of the addict and can even become the cause for mortality.
The epidemic of addiction has been rising over the past few decades. According to a report by WHO, 30 million people around the world have drug abuse disorders. Out of these 30 million, 11 million use injection based drugs. Out of these 11 million, 1.3 million have AIDS and 5.5 million are living with hepatitis.
Pakistan is also a victim of the rising drug abuse. According to a report by the UNDC, there are more than 6.7 million drug users in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the topic of addiction is still a taboo and most of the addicts go untreated.
In order to recover, an addict requires an empathic environment with trained professionals. The role of family and friends can be crucial in an addict’s recovery.
Here are some ways you can support a friend or a family member who is a recovering addict.
1-Judgement free zone:
Addiction has always been stigmatized. People attach a sense of moral failure with people who are addicted. In reality, addiction is not because of lower moral standard but is a brain disorder. It is a disease and its patient should be treated like any other patient.
Providing a judgement free zone to recovering addicts is very important. If they feel that they are fighting a sickness and not their inherent immorality, they will recover rapidly and with a sense of pride.
Judgement can really shatter the self-esteem of addicts and they can quickly fall into old patterns. It is thus crucial to be non-judgmental while dealing with an addict.
The second step to supporting a recovering addict is empathy. One should try to understand the reasons of one’s addiction. Understanding of the cause of addiction can help you cope too as a family member or friend. Empathy will assure the recovering addict that his condition is not his fault and thus help him recover better.
An addict is not only recovering sobriety, he/she is also recovering self-worth. It is thus crucial to appreciate their efforts. Each little milestone should be celebrated as it gives encouragement to the recovering addict. Celebration or rewards on achieving milestones also condition the addicts’ brains to stay focused on the path of sobriety.
4-Substance free environment:
Another very important task is to create a clean environment. Rehabilitation centers especially focus on that but such environments can also be created at home.
Make sure that your house is free of drugs. If you are a friend of a recovering addict, it is essential that you do not consume any substance in front of them. Offering substance to a recovered sober person is morally wrong and should be avoided at all costs.
5-Patience during relapses:
No matter how many precautions are taken, relapses are almost inevitable. It is just how the brain chemistry works. It makes the addict crave more especially during withdrawal.
It is crucial to the process of recovery that you as a support system stay patient during these relapses and help the person get started again on the path of recovery.
If a loved one is facing addiction, you should visit a psychiatrist or an addiction specialist as soon as possible.
You can also book an appointment with a top psychiatrist in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore at oladoc.com or call our helpline at 042-3250-0444 to get directed to the specialists that can cater to your specific concerns.