If you intend to someone with addiction and depression, it’s important to approach the situation with compassion, understanding, and patience. It can be difficult to open up about addiction and depression, so it’s important to give them a safe space to talk without judgment. Try not to let your own anxiety or worry lead you into pressuring or ‘guilt tripping’ the person into accepting help right away.
Simply Listening is Often Helpful to Someone Who is Depressed
More often than not, people simply want to be seen and heard. So start by listening – let them tell you their story in their own words without interruption or trying to fix anything. Show them that you genuinely care about their struggles and support them in any way that you can.
Recognize that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing or character flaw – don’t place blame on your loved one for the choices they make when suffering from addiction and depression. Acknowledge that recovery is a process and can take time, let them know you’ll be there for them. They have to do the work of recovery of course, but remind them you will be there to provide moral support and especially assistance when they are ready to accept outside help.
Depression and Addiction Can Take The Wind Out of Your Sails
Depression and addiction together present a real challenge. They are problems that require motivation and intent to overcome, yet by their very nature they undermine those qualities. This often leaves a depressed person feeling stuck and as if their only answer is the temporary relief their drug of choice provides them. From the outside it’s easy for us to see this is a self-destructive vicious cycle that can lead nowhere good. But when you’re addicted and depressed, it’s not easy to see things as they really are. Depression saps your motivation and can lead to despair. Addiction causes an unnatural reordering of your priorities by hijacking the brain’s reward center. Soon the drug becomes the priority, regardless of the consequences.
Be Optimistic, But Realistic When Talking to Someone Who is Addicted
Be encouraging – give them hope that with help and support they can get through this difficult period in their life. Help them build their confidence by reminding them of all the times they have overcome challenges before. Let them know that you believe in them and will be there for them every step of the way. Just remember to avoid judgement and temper this with realistic expectations. If you come across as unnaturally sunny it can seem like you don’t really appreciate just how dire their situation is. It’s OK to acknowledge that they are hurting themselves and even putting their own life in jeopardy. Keep it positive, but also keep it REAL.
Speak From The Heart, But Don’t Forget to Use Your Head
Above all else, remember to keep an open mind and show empathy towards your loved one when talking about addiction and depression. It’s not always easy, but offering genuine care and understanding can make a world of difference for someone struggling with addiction or mental health issues. Let them know you empathize with their situation, but that the support you’re offering is aimed at getting them the help they need. You aren’t there to enable them to continue self-destructive behavior. Your goal in the short-term should be to instill some hope, but in the medium-term it is to make it clear to them that action is required if they hope to change things for the better.
Try, gently, to get them to acknowledge that:
- The current state of affairs is unacceptable to them and must change.
- That things can get better, but that will only happen if they are willing to act.
- That “their way” hasn’t been working, so it may be time to try someone else’s advice.
- Addiction and depression aren’t their fault, but it is their responsibility to accept help.
Don’t Lose Sight of The Goal or Your Own Needs
The important thing to remember in all this is while you’re comforting this person and offering moral support, your goal should be actually helping them change, if you can. Again, avoid the trap of codependency. You can do this buy accepting your limitations. There is only so much you can do to help. If they refuse to accept help or have not yet ‘hit bottom’ then you cannot put your own life and happiness on hold while you wait for them. Sometimes it’s best at that point to simply let them know you will be there for them when they are ready to accept help, but you cannot just stand by and watch them destroy themselves or wallow in misery if they are unwilling to try to change. This is never an easy thing to do. Some call it “tough love” but the truth is that enabling someone or looking the other way while they continue down a dark path isn’t love either. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to not help them hide from the truth.
Getting Help for Addiction and Depression
Destination Hope is a dual-diagnosis treatment center which means we are uniquely equipped to help someone who is dealing with both a substance use disorder and situational or clinical depression (or any other co-occurring mental illness). The dual-diagnosis patient requires special care to help guard their hard-won recovery against relapse. An important part of this is getting an accurate diagnosis of a co-occurring disorder like depression early on so that it can be treated properly in concert with their addictive disorder. ‘Self-medicating’ due to an undiagnosed or improperly treated mental illness is a common cause of relapse for dual-diagnosis patients, so the right care is essential. If you have questions about talking to someone with addiction and depression or you just want to know more about treatment at Destination Hope, give us a call anytime 24/7 at (888) 989-1479