Let’s say you share your life with someone who uses speed. And maybe their use has become problematic for you. You’re not alone! There is absolutely no doubt that substance use impacts and affects far more people than just the person who’s using. Partners and friends, neighbors and coworkers are just a few of the people who might bear the brunt of a substance user’s behavior and mood shifts.
Those troubling questions, “Why won’t he stop?” or “What can I do to get him to quit?” can arise every time you’re in contact with the person in your life that uses meth. Don’t lose hope for yourself or for him. While it is all but a certainty that the user in your life is not using meth because of you or to spite you, it can with the same certainty feel that way from time to time.
This is a difficult position to be in, surely, and the folks here at tweaker.org want to offer our support to you so that you might better cope with the person who’s using and how you feel about and toward them. We’ve adapted this list from the “Six Survival Skills for Couple and Families” developed by Jan Ligon, a professor of Social Work at Georgia State University.
Separate yourself and detach from the problem
It is essential that you understand you are deciding to detach yourself from the person’s use of meth, not from the person who’s got a substance use problem. You can love and support the person without participating in their drug use, literally and figuratively.
Set some limits and establish boundaries
This might be experienced as learning to be “anti-enabling” if you will. You decide what you will and will not do for or with the person who’s using has become problematic for you. Be clear with yourself and with the person with whom you’re setting limits and then be firm in abiding by your decisions. For example, you might decide that you will not bail out a person to whom you have given or lent money in the past. In essence, you are actually assisting the person who uses in coming to terms with being fully responsible for his own needs and the consequences of his drug use.
Know where you stand and hold fast
It’s all about consistency. Remember your limits, acknowledging them to your self as needed. If this is a team effort, meaning a group of friends or family members who are coping with a person who uses meth, come together and discuss the as a group the boundaries each of you have set so that you might support each other.
Support behavior change
You can do this in so many ways it’s almost scary. First and foremost, look after yourself and get support so that you can continue to be comfortable with the detachment and limits you’ve set. There are some 12-Step groups that focus on friends and family members of substance users or you might want to get in touch with substance use treatment or counseling programs in your area and ask them if they do or will offer support groups or individual counseling to or for folks like yourself. Meanwhile, if and when you observe or experience a positive change in the behavior of the person who uses, acknowledge that you noticed and offer some form of praise and encouragement.
Simplify your approach
Make the changes you’ve decided upon for yourself as manageable and achievable as possible. The smaller the goal, the greater the likelihood of reaching it can be the mantra, if you will.
Take care of yourself
By this we mean that you can and will sustain your physical and emotional well-being. Create, cultivate and periodically adapt your sense of hope that change is possible for you and the person who uses.