Addiction is a common problem in the society today. Although people of all ages struggle with the problem of addiction, it is prevalent amongst the youths. The menace of addiction is usually seen as an individual problem; however it could pose a societal threat. For instance, a lot of recorded cases of behavioral inconsistency in the society have been linked to different forms of addiction; narcotics, alcohol etc.

One is considered an addict when he or she is in a state of enslavement to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. Many people struggle with this problem of addiction without even realizing it. This is worse because it easier to solve a problem when it is identified.

It is not exactly easy to reach out to help someone with an addiction problem. Often times, close friends and family give cold treatment to the person and hope that the person would realize through epiphany or some sort of encounter. However, the problem of addiction is a lot more difficult to attend to, considering the fact that a lot of addicts live in denial.

In helping someone with an addiction problem, here are some steps to take:

Make a flexible approach

It is more effective to approach the person you intend to help in a subtle way. Do not be aggressive. Your approach should be non-confrontational and persuasive. Accept that it will be a difficult situation and expect the person to be defensive and hostile. The idea is to keep your cool. Don’t sound accusing. Avoid blames and angry confrontations. They need to be able to focus on what is being said, not how it is being said.

Express Concern

Begin by expressing your deep concern. State your commitment to help and support them in taking positive actions. Move towards helping the person come out of denial. Help the person see the menace caused by excessive drinking or drug misuse and be specific about their behaviour. Do not make moral judgments or articulate your opinions in an abusive or insulting manner. Instead of saying “you drink too much”, say: “last night you were slurring your speech and shouting, you drove your car off the road, it was really frightening”. “I was scared that something really bad would happen.’’ This would help create an expressive atmosphere, giving you the opportunity to help and not judge.

Help him/her understand that addiction is an Illness

Explain that an addiction problem is an illness, not a moral weakness or lack of willpower. Tell the person you intend to help that he or she is a decent individual with a very destructive illness, one which leads to a progressive decline and a potentially fatal outcome. Help them to recognize that the only way to deal with this illness is through abstinence. To achieve this help will be needed and you can support them.

Use leverage where possible

The more leverage you have the better. It helps insetting healthy boundaries.  Do not confuse this with ‘threats’; you must intend to carry out anything you say.  If you are an employer it may be necessary to offer a choice of treatment or risk one’s career. You are not forcing the person to get help, you are offering a choice. A magistrate may decide that the person can have a choice between treatment and jail. Speak with deep concern but firmness.

Offer Help

Too often help and treatment are not offered because the outcome is seen to be hopeless.  But 50% of people addicted to drugs and alcohol can and do recover. For this reason, it is recommended that you make good attempt to help those struggling with addiction problems around you. Consider it your contribution to humanity; helping someone out of addiction problem helps them become better people. The society would benefit from more people living better lives. Introduce anyone you intend to help to engagements that would help them cure the problem. You can introduce them to life-forming activities, perhaps a book or a movie. Follow-up on the progress of the person and a good way to this is to become the person’s friend. Engage him or her in dialectics and discussions, build trust and understanding.

All too often the problem is ignored until there is a major crisis.  Collusion at the workplace is also all too frequent and the underperforming colleague is tolerated until given a golden handshake or simply fired.  The longer we ignore the problem the greater the health risks: brain damage, liver damage and a poor prognosis. As with any illness, addiction problems; alcoholism or drug addiction responds best to early intervention and needs to be confronted at an early stage for the best outcomes.

Conclusively, it is important to help the person understand that the responsibility lies on him or her. This is because the most effective tool in solving addiction problems is self-realization. Although you can help the person to get to that point of realizing, your persistence and commitment to help might bring about a solution, however the decision to make it a permanent solution is to be made by the person.


This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets

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