The first thing to realize, when it comes to trying to help someone who is addicted to heroin, is that you cannot ‘fix’ the situation. But, that does not mean you should give up hope. You can be supportive and help the person to get themselves the help that they need, and to take steps to deal with their addiction.
This does not mean that you should make excuses for a heroin addict, or support them financially. This type of action can quickly veer into enabling; we’ll have a look at this in more detail later in this article. So, what can you do to help someone who is addicted to heroin?
Learn about heroin and addiction to it
In order to be in the best position to help a heroin addict, you need to understand what heroin is, and what it means to be addicted. You should learn about what effect heroin has on an individual. In the short term this can include effects such as:
- Dryness in the mouth.
- Extreme itching.
In the long term, the effects can extremely serious. They include bacterial infections and collapsed veins. You can see how important it is that an addict deals with their addiction. The more you know about the drug, and the disease of addiction, the more you can understand the person’s behavior, and provide the support that they need.
Do not enable an addict
It can be difficult to see a person you are close to going through the problems that addiction can cause. It’s tempting to help them with financial or emotional issues, but this type of help can enable the addiction to continue. Heroin addicts need to realize that they have to run their own life. In some cases, relatives choose to throw an addict onto the street to help them understand that they need to help themselves. This is extreme, but you have to find the line between enabling and supporting when it comes to the person you are trying to help.
Helping a heroin addict to access treatment
There is no cure for addiction, but there are treatments that can help a heroin addict to stop taking the drug. One of the most popular treatments is the use of the synthetic opiate methadone. Treatment can also involve cognitive-behavorial therapy. These treatments can be provided in a person’s own home or in a residential treatment center. There is plenty of information available online, about treatment and resources, provided by experts such as The Recovery Village.
Helping someone who is addicted to heroin is never easy. They may lie to you, steal from you and even be violent towards you, in order to maintain their addiction. You need to remain firm in the face of all this. It helps to get some support yourself, from others in the same situation. You may want to get in touch with Narcotics Anonymous, or join an online forum, so that you feel supported as you try to help your friend or relative deal with their addiction.