Helping a loved one who is battling drug or alcohol addiction can be a lengthy and arduous journey. There may be times in which it may become so overwhelming that neglecting the situation seems easier.
Nevertheless, overlooking the problem may be far more damaging to you, other family and friends, and the person who is struggling with addiction. As difficult as it may be, it’s critical that you take the time to encourage your loved one to seek the professional help they need.
Understanding Drug Addiction
People start using drugs or drinking alcohol for various reasons, often due to curiosity, peer pressure, to feel euphoric or numb emotional pain. Drug use doesn’t automatically lead to escalating abuse, and alcohol use doesn’t always lead to addiction. For this reason, it can be challenging to identify precisely when substance use has the potential from merely concerning to extremely problematic and severe.
Sometimes, drug use and addiction are not as much about the frequency in which an individual uses. Instead, they are about the person’s motivation in turning to substances initially and the effects of abuse. For example, some people use marijuana daily but do so to relieve pain. This habit may not have any negative impact on their life.
Still, drug or alcohol abuse can easily result in declining mental, emotional, and physical health, poor performance at school or work, legal or financial troubles, or damaged relationships with loved ones. If these issues are ongoing, substance use has unmistakably become extremely problematic.
Of course, not every person who uses drugs or alcohol will develop an addiction. The likelihood that an individual will develop an addiction to drugs is based on various factors, including the following:
- Having a family history of substance abuse or addiction
- Having a genetic predisposition to addiction
- Experiencing abuse, neglect, or other trauma, especially in childhood
- Experiencing a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
- Using a non-oral route of administration, such as snorting or injecting
- Using substances early in life, such as during the teenage years
Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Many outward signs and symptoms may indicate drug use. Each drug has its own unique effects, but some general indications that may reveal that your loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol include the following:
- Social isolation
- Red or glassy eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Loss of energy or motivation
- Abrupt changes in behavior
- Poor performance at work or school
- Poor hygiene and disheveled appearance
- Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Adverse changes in sleeping patterns
- Requests for money and noticeably increased spending
How to Help an Addict Directly
Helping a loved one who is engaging in alcohol or drug abuse is seldom easy. Unfortunately, there’s no one foolproof way to get an individual to quit using. The following are a few suggestions that may go a long way in helping a loved one get treatment and eventually achieve long-term recovery.
Educate Yourself About Addiction
Unless you have at least some knowledge about addiction and the signs and symptoms of substance use, it might not be easy to recognize evidence right in front of you. While some substance use disorders are glaringly obvious, others, including those involving prescription drug misuse, may very well fly under the radar.
Addiction is a complex disorder, and taking time to understand your loved one’s condition and how it affects them can be very helpful to both you and the loved one. It also helps you become more aware of the signs that the person of concern direly needs help.
You must understand that addiction is considered a chronic, relapsing disease, not unlike diabetes or hypertension. Most modern experts no longer regard substance abuse as a moral or behavioral failure. They believe that individualized, comprehensive treatment is most beneficial and that addiction should be approached as a long-term, progressive disease.
It can be extremely challenging for family members and friends when addiction develops in a loved one. Often, those closest to the person affected have enabled his or her addiction without being fully aware that was what they were doing.
But you can’t rescue an addict. It would be best if you let them experience the consequences of their disease because this may be the only way they will seek help. Often, a person in the throes of addiction cannot or is unwilling to change until forced to do so.
Gently refuse to support the addict or alcoholic financially. Many loved ones will supply the individual groceries, offer financial assistance to pay for legal fees, pay rent, or even give them money to buy their substance of choice. Enabling can worsen and prolong the disease because the person can thereby avoid severe consequences.
Offer Your Support
People struggling with addiction don’t always understand how much their loved ones care about them and actively worry about their health and well-being. Speak to your loved one regarding your concerns, and don’t wait for the person to hit “rock bottom” to express your feelings. Crucially, continually let them know that you plan to offer them love and support during their entire recovery journey.
Get Support From Others
It can become tiresome, providing all the support by yourself, but families often have many other options for help. Peer groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are focused on the individual with the addiction. There are also family support groups, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.
In some instances, community outreach services or members of the clergy can also assist. Most critically, however, they need to be encouraged to seek long-term professional imminently.
Encourage the Person to Undergo Treatment
As with other disorders and diseases, the earlier addiction is treated, the better the outcome has the potential to be. Initially, you will probably be met with denial and excuses related to why the person is unable or unwilling to get treatment. You may have to be tenacious for a considerable amount of time and keep reminding them about how important it is to enter a comprehensive treatment program to treat their addiction.
Another option is to stage an intervention. Although these may be difficult to do, particularly from an emotional standpoint, an intervention may be precisely what a loved one on a downward spiral into addiction needs. Consider consulting an intervention specialist to help guide you through this process.
By consulting an addiction specialist, such as a licensed substance abuse counselor, social worker, or therapist, you can be provided with a great deal of help coordinating an effective intervention. An addiction professional will consider your loved one’s unique circumstances, recommend the most effective approach, and suggest what type of treatment and aftercare plan is likely to work best.
What to Avoid
When conversing with a loved one about getting treatment for their addiction, avoid preaching, lecturing, threatening, or demoralizing. Please do not attempt to make them feel ashamed or guilty.
Do not enable them in any way. Do not lie to others or make excuses for their behavior and do not blame yourself or feel responsible for their problems.
Avoid arguing with him or her when they are actively using drugs. If they are intoxicated or high, they will not be able to hold a rational conversation and will probably not be open to what you have to say.
Getting Treatment for Addiction
If you are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us as soon as possible. Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer comprehensive treatment for addiction in partial hospitalization and inpatient formats. Our approach comprises services essential for the process of recovery, including behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, aftercare, and more.