How to help a loved one struggling with ice addiction
Knowing or suspecting that a loved one has developed an ice addiction is a confronting experience and often leaves people feeling completely out of their depth.
Friends and family of ice addicts often feel overwhelmed and useless, as they are unsure of how to best broach the subject or how to best help their loved one get treatment for ice addiction.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you have a loved one struggling with an ice addiction is that addiction is an illness and requires professional addiction treatment.
So if you want to help a loved one who is addicted to ice, the long-term goal should always be to get them into a professional rehab facility.
Unfortunately it can take time for an ice addict to admit that they are in need of a stay in rehab.
No matter how many doors you open for your loved one, they will have to walk through them on their own accord.
That said, there are a number of ways in which you can support your loved one while they are still trapped inside the cycle of addiction.
1. Educate yourself
Ice addiction is a complex, many-layered illness with effects on all aspect of the user’s life.
The more you understand about how their addiction impacts their behaviour, the better you will be able to cope with your loved ones’ antics, which might at times seem nothing short of malicious.
Realising that you are witnessing symptoms of addiction rather than conscious choices can make it easier to remain patient and supportive.
The internet is a good place to start and has a many excellent resources
You can also find numerous useful articles on ice addiction and family support here on our website.
There are also a great many helplines available that offer great support and information to friends and family of ice addicts
- Lifeline Emergency Support 13 11 14
- National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline 1800 250 015
- Turning Point – Ice Advice 1800 423 238
- Family Drug Support (24 hrs) 1300 368 186
2. Encourage dialogue
If you want to encourage your loved one to open up to you about their struggles with ice addiction, you need to create an environment in which they feel safe.
- Be non-judgemental
- Keep calm
- Treat conversations as confidential
- Don’t lecture on the dangers of drug abuse (they know)
- Don’t offer unsolicited advice
- Stress that you are available if your loved one wants to talk
- Don’t simplify their illness (i.e. “You just have to choose to stop” – addiction is not a matter of choice)
3. Be present
Let your loved one know that you care about them and are always there when they want to talk.
When they do talk – LISTEN.
This remains an important way you can support your loved one even once they have entered treatment.
Ice addiction takes a huge toll on sufferers’ mental health and talking to someone they trust can be a tremendous help in processing their experiences with addiction.
4. Don’t become an enabler
Although it is important to be supportive of your loved one, it is important to distinguish between supportive and enabling behaviour.
- Allowing your loved one to vent when they are overwhelmed
- Assuring you that your door is open to them when they need emotional support
- Offering to help your loved one to find professional help
- Taking part in your loved one’s recovery process
- Offering financial support – any money you give your loved one will ultimately help pay for drugs
- Making excuses for your loved ones’ behaviour at work, school or social gatherings
- Covering up your loved ones’ excesses to help them safe face
Watch our quick video explainer on what enabling is
There is a fine line between support and enabling, but it is important that you keep in mind that you should never help your loved one minimise the consequences of their addiction.
5. Remind them that help is available
While you cannot force your loved one to enter into a rehab facility, you can certainly point out to them – occasionally – that the option is open to them.
It is a good idea to find out what treatment options are available so you can give your loved one detailed information if and when they express interest.
6. Look after yourself
Having a loved one struggling with ice addiction can completely take over your life – so be mindful of your own needs.
- It is alright to vent your frustrations, whether to a close friend or one of the support services available to friends and family of ice addicts.
- It is alright to tell your loved one that you need a day to yourself.
- It is alright to go out and do something you enjoy.
Remember, you cannot solve your loved one’s problem for them. The best you can do is to offer ongoing support and be ready for when they are ready for help; which is why it is important that you take time to recharge.
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