The starting point of helping someone with a drug problem is always going to be that person’s surrender. Up until then, everything we do is merely arm waving and wasted energy, for the most part.
For example, if we are desperately trying to convince someone to go to treatment or rehab, but they have not yet surrendered and are not really finished using drugs yet, then we are wasting our time and energy and should be trying a different approach.
What is this other approach? Unfortunately it is mostly “hands-off.” We have to take a step back from the situation and allow the drug addict to find their own path to surrender. Giving a person drug help in this case means that we need to let them experience their pain. If they are isolated and miserable due to their drug use, then we should not be trying to reverse that or fix the situation for them. If they are broke because they wasted all of their money on drugs, we should not enable them by giving them more money (even if they need the cash for other things).
Never deny an addict of their pain. To do so might seem like the right thing to do, or it might seem like the merciful thing to do. But in fact you are prolonging their addiction. The more you “cushion” their consequences for them, the longer they will continue to use drugs.
The only way that an addict will ever change is if they experience enough pain. If you examine your own life you can see that this is always true for any person. If we are facing a really huge, uncomfortable change in our lives….it is not going to happen unless we get motivated enough by pain.
A drug addict is always resisting the idea of change due to fear. The fear of sobriety is monumental. It is overwhelming. No addict wants to face life sober. This is like a death sentence. So they resist the idea of change, the idea of sobriety. More and more consequences pile up in their lives, yet they are resistant to change because it is too scary to consider. The idea of facing life without self-medicating is too much.
Now how can an addict move past that fear? How can they overlook this fear and take the leap of faith needed to give sobriety a chance? There is only one way. They have to be beat down, sick and tired, full of pain, and tired of living in fear. They must arrive at a moment of surrender. It is a letting go of something. The addict will be miserable when they make such a decision, when they finally surrender. They will be full of pain and fear.
So if you want to know how to help an addict, simply make sure you are not getting in the way of this moment. Allow them to move closer to it, painful as it may be. Do not deny the addict their pain. This is the only way you can really help.