|So far in this series focusing on addiction, we have explored the definition and the impacts of addiction. In this article, we will explore ways of coping with the impacts of addiction including a section on how individuals who are caring or concerned about a loved one with addiction can cope.
In case you want to start from the beginning of this series, or bookmark the links to read later, here are the other articles in this series:
Although this article will focus on ways to try to cope with the struggles and impacts of addiction, it's important to note that addiction is treatable with access to professional supports. Treatment options are explored in the final article in this series.
However, some individuals may not be ready for treatment and in what is known as the precontemplation or contemplation stage of change when considering the stages of change. This means that the individual is not recognizing that their substance use has become a problem, or they are feeling ambivalence around making any changes in their behaviour.
Therefore, we will explore options for individuals who are not quite ready for professional supports and consider harm reduction strategies, creating a support network, finding hope and a reason to move in the direction of change, as well as coping strategies to reduce the impacts of an addiction.
*This article does not contain medical or therapeutic advice. If you, or someone you know, is concerned about your health and well-being connected to substance use or an addiction, speak with a local healthcare professional, or reach out to specialized support for addiction.
Although a controversial strategy for some, harm reduction strategies may be helpful for individuals who are not ready to access professional supports.
Harm Reduction International shares this definition:
"Harm Reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs without necessarily reducing drug consumption. Harm reduction benefits people who use drugs, their families and the community.
Some strategies that can be implemented to reduce the impacts of addiction:
Find out more about harm reduction strategies by contacting your local addictions helpline. Search Google for 'addiction helpline' or check the Helpful Links page for resources.
Having individuals in life that an individual can reach out to and ask for help when needed is important for all individuals, and especially so when struggling with an addiction. Knowing that there is a number to call and to be able to admit, without fearing judgement, 'I'm not okay' can literally save a persons life.
Therefore, taking a moment to create a support network of people and services that can be reached is a great option to help cope with the struggles of addiction. A support network can include the name, phone number or location such as:
Need help? Access the free, printable support network pdf to create your own support network for yourself or to share with someone you are concerned about:
Know someone who could benefit from this article or free download? Share the link!
According the bestselling author, renowned speaker, and addictions expert Gabor Maté, addiction stems from an experience of trauma and a reaction to the felt pain from these experiences. Rather than vilifying an individual with an addiction, Maté suggests we hold a position of compassion and ask the question 'Why the pain?'.
In the same thought, identifying reasons to work through the emotional pain causing an addiction in terms of a purpose or reason for hope can also be helpful to guide a person towards recovery.
Each individuals reasons will be different and unique to them, but some examples of a purpose or hope for change might include:
Similarly, Jo Harvey Weatherford shares her story about finding the good in her addiction, rather than focusing on the negatives and impacts. In this sense, she was able to rewrite her story of addiction and now helps others to do the same.
There are many ways to cope through addiction yet what might help ease the urges, withdrawal, or impacts of addiction for one person, may not work for another. Let's explore some possible options.
Ways to Cope as the Individual with the Addiction
Ways to Cope as the Loved One
Coping through an addiction is not easy to do on your own. When you or your loved one is ready, there is professional support and treatment available. A good place to start is to speak with a doctor about these concerns and to have a professional assessment done to determine the best treatment options for your situation.
Read the final article in this series focusing on treatment options.
Have you found ways of coping with addiction or taking care of yourself if you are the loved one of an individual diagnosed with an addiction? If you feel comfortable, share your experience in the comments below.
References: psychcentral.com, hri.global, heretohelp.bc.ca, drgabormate.com
The links on this page may be embedded with affiliate links that I am compensated for at no additional cost to you. If you or someone you know is in crisis and need immediate support, please reach out to your local emergency service or crisis line.