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Substance Abuse - How Should You Cope With Someone Going Through It?

Written and reviewed by
Ms. Rashi Anand Laskari 91% (42 ratings)
B.A., MA - Counselling Psychology
Psychologist, Mumbai  •  10 years experience
Substance Abuse - How Should You Cope With Someone Going Through It?

While we all know substance abuse is a social issue and learning that a loved one is affected by the problem can be nearly heart-breaking. It is definitely not something that can be easily accepted. At the same time, the affected individual needs all your love and attention and more importantly support to get through the situation. It is important to not show anger or frustration at the person but to empathize and help them get out of the situation.

Read on to know some of the ways in which you can play an active role in supporting your loved one under such circumstances. This involves both of you coping with the situation at hand, as well as helping the person come out of the abuse.

  1. Educate yourself: When you are trying to help a person, you should know in detail about the substance that was being used and its ill effects. This gives you greater credibility, unlike the person who got carried with the happy feeling it gave and got into abuse. 
  2. Ensure safety: This is both for the affected individual and yourself. With the required substance not being available, the person could look at harming either self or others, especially ones who are trying to get them out of the abuse. Though the intent is to help, they are looked at as people who are depriving the feel-good feeling produced by the substance, which is no longer easily available. Therefore, ensure safety. 
  3. Talk openly: In the beginning, be a good listener. Once you get their confidence, make them understand that the entire situation is making you upset and perhaps angry or frustrated too. Get them to focus on your proposal of getting out of the habit together. If they are willing then this can ensure greater success in quitting the habit. Get to understand how exactly the habit developed including the people responsible for it, the circumstances leading to it, and the various chemicals that were used. The duration and frequency are also important. Tell them it is okay and that you will both get out of it with each other’s support. 
  4. Participate in therapy sessions: Individual counseling will work effectively for the primary client, but it is also important for family members to get involved. The counselor also would need support beyond the few counseling hours for completely getting rid of an individual’s habit. Therapy can help you learn how to manage the issues back at home. 
  5. Find your “me-time”: With all that is going on, you will need some time for yourself to just be. Eat well, stick to your workouts, sleep well, keep your friends, and make time for your hobbies. These will ensure you are in good shape to support the affected individual. It is not possible for you to help another person when you are not in great shape yourself. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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