Silence Can Be Deadly
When struggling with addiction, many struggle in silence. Yet sometimes they are the people with the biggest smiles and some of the most caring individuals. They are the person who is there for everyone but feels as if they have no one. Recently, I lost an old friend to addiction, and all I can remember are his great accomplishments and how he had so much going for him. I never thought addiction would be in the cards for him, nor did I expect he would die of an overdose. But, I wondered to myself, could I have done something?
Hearing about this ultimately hurt. No one wants to hear that anyone, let alone a friend, has died from an overdose. You then start to wonder, could I have done something differently? What if I had reached out? What if I had done things differently? All of these “what ifs” start coming into your mind. But I found that beating myself up only made the grieving process harder.
When you know someone is experimenting with drugs, don’t stay passive. Speak up. Talk to them. Remind them what they have going for them, whether it’s a scholarship, a job, school, their family, or anything. So many don’t see all they could lose from just the one choice to use drugs. This may allow them to see how their choices can impact their future.
Encouraging a friend to get into treatment may seem difficult, or like it’s none of your business, but ultimately that action could make the difference in saving their life. Make it clear you are not going to support their habit, nor are you going to come around if they continue down the path they are on, but you will assist them in going into treatment. That may cause an addict to reevaluate their choices. When you are telling someone these things, keep encouraging them to go into treatment. The end goal should always be to get them into treatment.
An addict choosing to go into treatment is a very big and important step. They are actively saying they want to get better and change their ways. But most addicts aren’t going to jump to go to treatment immediately. They could be scared, not ready, or unwilling to change. When dealing with someone who claims they are not ready and unwilling to go to treatment, that typically means they want to continue using. When faced with this, you should try doing an intervention and stop your part in enabling them, whether it be giving them money or helping them find drugs. Enabling them may be as simple as overlooking it when you know they are under the influence. This allows their behavior to go unchecked. You can be there as a friend but not enable them.
When you are dealing with a loved one you are worried about losing, remember you can make a change. You can help them. You can encourage them to get treatment by reminding them of all things they can have once they are sober. Let them know you will support them throughout their recovery. Many addicts consider their friends to be the people they use with and fear they will have no one as friends when they get clean. Having at least one familiar face when they come out of treatment can be the difference in them returning to their old ways or staying clean.
Not all addicts are the ones depicted in the pictures of homeless, miserable people living on the streets. There are some addicts who have the biggest smiles and kindest hearts, yet they are struggling in the dark. One wrong choice, one bad batch, and the next thing you know, you get a call or see a post on social media that they are gone. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you are not alone. There is a way out of the nightmare of addiction. The first step is to reach out for help.