There are few things in life that are more difficult to cope with than a loved one who is dealing with a serious substance abuse issue. You love the person and want to reach out to them and help them, but at the same time you don’t want to contribute to their dependence on the substance (e.g., by giving them “rent money”). Here are a few tips to help you cope with someone who has a cocaine addiction.
- Do not wait for them to reach bottom, because their bottom may be jail, serious injury or death.
- Remember that addiction to cocaine is a bad disease that happens to good people, bad people and everyone in between.
Ask yourself: Of all the time, energy and tears I have invested in trying to make them stop, what has been successful? If the answer is “nothing,” you are in good company. Anger, tears and empty threats have never cured one single disease. If all the efforts you have made to help the addict have failed and have made you miserable in the process, then doing nothing would be just as successful, and perhaps your time would be more productively spent on the people for whom you can make a difference. Here are some additional suggestions:
- Stop enabling the problem by making excuses or “doing for” the addict. Your time is best spent in the solution, not the problem. When an addict has to face the consequences of his or her actions directly, they are more interested in seeking help.
- Never bluff. Be willing to follow through on any threats or promises you make. Be sure to communicate these conditions clearly and calmly.
- Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. Let trusted friends, family or clergy in on the secret. Tell them you want their help.
- Contact your EAP counselor through your workplace or an addiction professional in your community and ask for help.
- Discuss doing an intervention if your addict won’t willingly seek help.
- Decide how much longer you are willing to put up with the pain, fear and frustration caused by addiction. That’s exactly how long it will continue. Consider attending a support group for more information and support in dealing with this issue. There are usually community programs for those who care about an addict.
Mark S. Gold, M.D. contributed to this article.