Overcoming Addiction + How to Help Someone Struggling with an Addiction
Yes, addiction can be a scary thing, but true recovery is possible. In this podcast (episode #238) and blog, I speak with licensed clinical social worker and therapist Nathan Padilla about his own experiences with addiction and mental health, the nature of addiction recovery, how you can help someone overcome an addiction, and more!
Many people turn to drugs to cope with the pain of their reality, as Nathan himself did. But it will get to a point where nothing will work anymore—you won’t be able to escape any longer. Indeed, it is a lot of work to be high all the time; drug addiction can lead to a host of mental and physical illnesses and challenges.
However, shame and guilt can keep a lot of people stuck in an addiction, making it hard to recover. These feelings can make someone feel that they will never heal or be worthy of love and compassion. This is why it is so important to create safe spaces like Nathan’s amazing outpatient treatment program center in Rowell, New Mexico, where people can tell their life stories and be heard and helped without judgment.
Nathan’s own experiences as a former addict lay the foundation for how he treats other people battling with addictions. He helps them recognize that:
- The healing process starts with a desire to heal. When it comes to addiction, the addict must be truly committed to recovery.
- It will take time to heal. It is okay to have highs and lows, and good days and bad days.
- If you don’t use for a week or so, remember that you are not in recovery yet—true recovery takes time.
- It is important to talk about your story when you are ready; don’t suppress it or hide it, or the shame will take over and keep you trapped.
- Stay busy: get a degree, start something new, learn a new skill—fill up your time with things that give you purpose and direction.
- Just taking a pill or doing one program for a time will not get to the root of your addiction. True healing means getting to the root of what you are facing over time, reevaluating your personal beliefs, values and morals and developing a lifestyle of recovery.
But what if you know someone battling with addiction? How can you help them? Nathan recommends:
- Create a safe space for the person, where they know they will be helped, not judged. Build the connection!
- Get to know the person and really hear their story, so that you can see how you can come alongside them and help them.
- Educate both the person who is struggling and their family. Let them know that changes will happen and the process won’t always be easy or a smooth ride, and that there will be bad moments and days. Let them know what to expect.
- Help the person in recovery make better lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly and eating well, which will support them through the recovery process.
- Make sure their days are structured, which will help with the recovery process, but don’t be so rigid in the structure that you ruin the relationship.
- Remember that you can’t own the successes and failures of the person who is recovering from an addiction. All you can do is be there for them to the best of your ability.
- Look after your own mental and physical wellbeing when trying to help someone recover from an addiction, especially if you are a provider, so that you can help them the best of your ability.
For more on addiction recovery and mental health, listen to my podcast (episode #238) and check out Nathan’s work. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!)
5:00 Why Nathan used drugs to cope with reality
21:00 How the birth of Nathan’s son and his time in jail was an “ahah!” moment in his healing journey
25:41 Tips for recovering from an addiction
32:15 Why Nathan started his own practice
34:50 What is dual diagnosis and why is it important?
38:05 How to help someone recover from an addiction
This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.
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