There is absolutely nothing easy about watching someone you care for destroying their body and their life with substance abuse. When someone suffers from an addiction, the drug of choice becomes their life. Every move they make is going to involve supporting their habit.
The American Medical Association recognizes addiction as an illness because of the substantial changes in brain chemistry that take place within the sufferer. Addiction varies in severity based on a number of factors, including the drug used, duration of use, and co-occurring mental illness. Someone suffering from an addiction to crack cocaine may engage in a risky and erratic behavior. If their resources are limited, an addict may resort to unsavory methods of acquiring crack.
This could be by stealing, lying and manipulating the people around them to help themselves get their next fixed. Desperation, erratic behavior, and intoxication are a mixture for disaster and can lead to illegal and unsafe methods for getting drugs and/or money for drugs.
Behaviors to Avoid
Shaming a crack addict, or anyone suffering from addiction, for their substance abuse is not going to make them get help. If anything, the negative criticism is going to compel them to do the exact opposite of what you are berating them about. There are ways to make your friends aware of their actions and destructive behaviors without inserting hurtful words and insults. Shaming can not only increase use, but it can also make the addict more secretive and withdrawn. They may begin to put more effort into hiding their drug use, or just disconnect from all social interactions to avoid feeling attacked.
Enabling encompasses a range of behaviors carried out by people who care about the addict. Enabling usually involves trying to help in ways that can end up keeping the addiction afloat or even allowing the illness to progress. Most times, enabling is done unintentionally and out of love and protection. Actions such as loaning money and covering up or hiding their mistakes can do more harm than good in the long run. It is hard to watch friends or family members struggle and there is not much you can do.
The more you see them struggle, the more obligated you feel to help. It is definitely possible to find a balance between helping the person, but not the disease. However, it is also very easy to cross the line between helping and enabling. It can include actions such as making excuses for bad behavior or ignoring the problem altogether. Helping your friend get high by assisting with money, transportation, or a place to get high in order to keep them out of harms way, is also enabling and should be avoided. An enabler helps the addiction continue.
It is important to note that even though addiction is an illness, the addict should still be held accountable for their actions. They have a disease that guides their behaviors through intense urges. It is their choice as to how they go about fulfilling these urges. Addiction is not an excuse for criminal behaviors, and crimes should never be covered up just because someone is an addict. Pretending the issue doesn’t exist or going out of your way to hide it are both forms of enabling that you want to avoid. If you see something, say something.
Encourage and Empower
The path to sobriety is almost never an easy one. Many addicts relapse hard, and on more than one occasion. Trying to force a person to get help is useless if they do not want it for themselves. They have to choose to make the effort to fight the disease. Although, they do not have to arrive to that conclusion on their own. You may have an urge to just swoop your friend up and lock them in a drug-free castle under the addiction subsides. Unfortunately, that is not how things work. Keep in mind that your role in helping your friend overcome crack addiction is not as their caretaker. As a friend, you want to encourage and empower your friend to get up and get better.
The cycle that you are trying to help them break is going to require a break in their usual schedule. Encourage them to step out of their routine and make some changes one step at a time. You can’t really tell another adult what to do or where to go and expect positive results. People value their freedom and hate being told what to do.
Most people respond much better the things that are presented as a choice instead of an ultimatum or demand. You just have to do and say what you can in order to make them see what you are saying. If you want them to get help, you have to help them see the point in it. Show your friend the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope can go a long way when you have someone by your side assuring you that you are worth it and that you can make it. Be the person by their side showing them what they have to live for.
Respond Instead of Reacting
Regularly dealing with an addict that you are close with can have the potential to make you feel a type of anger that you never knew you had inside of you. Your anger is a valid human response to what you are experiencing. However, it is important to monitor how to carry out this anger. Taking your anger out on the person that you want to help is counterproductive and no one ends up benefitting.
Important Thoughts to Keep in Mind
At the end of the day, you must keep in mind that the choice is not up to you. You could try and try for years with no success. It is ultimately up to the addict to make the decision to beat their crack addiction. You cannot beat yourself up if your efforts fail. There is no “cure” for an addiction to crack cocaine, the sufferer has you decide how much they value their health and their life. But, you can remain by their side reminding them of their worth.