Get Help For Yourself First
Being in a relationship with a person who has an addiction is often stressful. It’s important that you accept that what you are going through is difficult and seek support. You also need to develop stress management strategies, which is an important step in helping your loved one as well as yourself.
What To Do If You Love Someone With Addiction Issues
Addiction is a complex disease. Attempting to help someone with an addiction issue is also complex. Many times all the energy and focus is on the person who needs help with addiction. Trying to figure out what will make them change, seek help, or just stop their self-destructive ways. However, taking care of oneself can be one of the best things you can do to help. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is often the very thing you need to do. The hard truth is that you cannot change anyone but yourself. Taking an honest look at yourself and what you can do to take care of yourself is vital.
Addiction is a family disease and every member of the family is impacted to one degree or another. Family isnt limited to people to whom you are biologically related. If you have a relationshipromantic or otherwisewith someone who has a SUD or AUD you too are affected by their disease.
One of the first things you can do to help them is to help yourself. Its like the analogy so often told about being on an airplane. You must first put the oxygen mask on yourself then on your child. The same is true when it comes to loving someone with an addiction issue. If you take care of yourself, you will be a better support and most suited to help themeven though the help may not be what you are used to doing.
What If My Friend Isnt Responding To My Help
Sometimes, even the best efforts to help a friend arent enough to make them stop.
Find out about treatment resources that are available
Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery are two self-help recovery programs that offer support from other people recovering from drug addictions, address the factors behind drug abuse and help people regain control of their lives. These websites have tons of information about addiction and getting help. If your friend isnt willing to go to a support group, try suggesting a confidential telephone service such as DirectLine.
Dont forget about yourself
When someone you care about is trapped in addiction, it affects you, too. Family Drug Help provides support and information to family members and friends of someone with an addiction.
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How To Help A Drug Addict
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 221,961 times.
What if you want to help someone who is addicted to drugs, but you dont know how? There are many misconceptions about how to help a person who has an addiction. You cannot make a person conquer an addiction, and you cant do the work for him. Your focus will be on offering support in various and creative ways. In order to help a person with an addiction one must understand that addiction is complex. You cannot fix the person and above all else a person with an addiction is a person first and not just a drug addict as the title of this article indicates. The persons battle with addiction will certainly be hard-fought, but your supportive action will positively contribute to the persons journey.
Talking To A Heroin Addict
Someone who is addicted to heroin may not want to discuss their issues with the drug, but talking to them can be extremely helpful and can allow them to see the impact that their abuse is making on themselves and on you. Here are some tips for talking to someone who is addicted to heroin about their drug abuse.
You can help your loved one get the treatment they need. Recovery is possible!
- Do not lay blame or judgments on the individual. While they were originally able to make the choice to do heroin, they are now incapable of reversing that choice on their own because they are addicted.
- Be supportive at all times.
- In many cases, users continue abusing the drug even after they no longer experience the euphoric effects, simply to provide relief from the painful, flu-like withdrawal symptomsIf this is the case with the individual you are speaking to, suggesting rehab might help them realize that they actually derive no pleasure from the drug currently.
- Try to remain as calm and even-tempered as possible. Yelling will not make the individual more receptive to what you have to say.
Remember the person you are talking to has a chronic relapsing disease so judgment or anger will not help them get better. You can discuss these feelings in family or relationship counseling, ideally while the individual is attending rehab.
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What Happens To The Brain When A Person Takes Drugs
Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuit,” causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.
As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drugan effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.
Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:
Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.
Signs And Symptoms Of Drug Or Alcohol Addiction
There are signs and symptoms to look for that could indicate your loved one has a substance use disorder. Mental health professionals outline the criteria used to diagnose someone with a substance use disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition . If your loved one meets at least 2 of the following criteria over the last 12 months, they may meet the criteria to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder:2
- The person takes more of the substance than originally intended.
- The person uses substances in high-risk situations, such as driving.
- The person has increased interpersonal conflict over the use of substances.
- The person neglects their responsibilities at home or work due to using substances.
- The person gives up hobbies or other interests to use substances.
- The person tries unsuccessfully to stop using or cut back on substances.
- The person spends a lot of time and resources seeking the substance out and using it.
- The person keeps taking the substance, even while knowing it causes harm to their physical or mental health.
- The person has cravings to use the substance.
- The person develops a tolerance to the substance, meaning that he or she needs more and more of the substance to keep feeling the desired effects.
- The person experiences withdrawal symptoms when stopping or significantly reducing their use of the substance.
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How To Help Someone Struggling With Addiction
John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health .
If you have a friend or relative who is living with addiction, you might be wondering how you can help. It’s not always easy to make the decision to try to help someone who has an addiction, but your loved one will have a greater chance of overcoming addiction with your support.
This article discusses some of the strategies you can use to help a friend or loved one who is struggling with an addiction. While every situation is unique, there are some general guidelines that can help.
Focus on building trust so they will be more likely to listen.
Be honest and let them know how the addiction is affecting your life and your relationship with them.
Respect their privacy while being supportive. You can’t force them into quitting, but you can be a source of strength.
Threaten. Giving ultimatums may lead them to hide the behavior.
Criticize. This can contribute to shame and lessen their belief in their ability to quit.
Expect immediate change. Recovery takes time and setbacks are bound to happen.
Environmental Signs Of A Drug Problem
Unusual Smells. Some drugs, like alcohol, marijuana, crack, or meth, have distinct smells that individuals may try to cover up. Repeated and constant use will be hard to disguise. You may notice those smells on their clothes, in their car or bedroom, or on their breath or skin.
Finding Drug Paraphernalia. If you find smoking devices, needles, oil vaporizers, or stashes of different devices needed for drug use, you may want to discuss with your loved one what those items are and why they have them.
Deodorizers or Incense to Cover Up Smells. Some drugs have very strong smells. You may notice this person spraying areas such as their room or car, wearing very strong cologne or perfume, or even burning candles and incense to cover it. This is concerning especially if this is a new behavior.
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Get Educated About Addiction
Take the time to learn more about the nature and behavior of drug addiction.
Addiction is much more than substance abuse of things like cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs. it can be a behavior that is usually due to some underlying emotional issue, chemical imbalance, or other disorder that causes a person to act a certain way or to self-medicate.
People with such behaviors can be addicted to just about anything in an unhealthy way whether it is sex, exercise, work, eating, or a substance. And when someone is addicted to something, there are often co-occurring disorders at play such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, obsessive-compulsiveness, or eating disorders.
Once a person becomes addicted to a substance or behavior, the continuing use and abuse are more about homeostasis rather than getting high. As time goes on, the perceived benefits of that behavior or substance that originally lured them in usually fade away, but the need and impulse remain.
Treatment programs like drug rehab work to treat the underlying causes of addictive behaviors. That is why drug rehabilitation can be so instrumental in causing life-altering behaviors and constructive, positive changes.
General Signs Of Drug Addiction
If a person is abusing any drug, there are some of the general signs to look for. These include:
- Difficulties at school, disinterest in school-related activities, and declining grades
- Poor work performance, being chronically late to work, appearing tired and disinterested in work duties, and receiving poor performance reviews
- Changes in physical appearance, such as wearing inappropriate or dirty clothing and a lack of interest in grooming
- Altered behavior, such as an increased desire for privacy
- Drastic changes in relationships
- A noticeable lack of energy when performing daily activities
- Spending more money than usual or requesting to borrow money
- Issues with financial management, such as not paying bills on time
- Changes in appetite, such as a decreased appetite and associated weight loss
- Bloodshot eyes, poor skin tone, and appearing tired or run down
- Defensiveness when asked about substance use
If you or your loved one are exhibiting signs of addiction but you dont know where to turn, American Addiction Centers can help. Our fully licensed team of medical providers and network of credentialed treatment facilities have helped thousands of people get back on their feet and lead a life in recovery. We offer best-in-class care for substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorders, treating the whole patient and setting them up for a lifetime of success. Take the next step by contacting us today.
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Ways To Help Someone With Drug Addiction
Substance use disorders exist on a continuum, with the least severe being a substance misuse problem and the most severe most commonly known as a substance use disorder. Substance use impacts more than 23 million people in the United States directly, and if you include the indirect impact that number can skyrocket to over 60 million. What this means is that you more than likely know someone who is currently struggling with an addiction, and at some point will need help to get the medical care that they needknowing what you can do then is an important part of the process.
How To Tell If Someone Is On Drugs: Opiates Marijuana And More
While virtually any substance can be abused, some drugs carry a higher risk of dependency and addiction than others. Its important to identify instances of substance abuse early on, so intervention can occur before addiction takes hold.
Theres no question that substance use and abuse are widespread in the US. Per 2013-2015 data from NIDAs National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 65.7 percent of individuals 12 and older used alcohol the prior year, 13.5 percent used marijuana or hashish, and 17.8 percent reported using illicit drugs. In their lifetime, 81 percent of those surveyed reported drinking alcohol, 44 percent said they smoked marijuana or hashish, and 48.8 percent had used illicit drugs. The longer one uses a substance, the harder it is to stop without experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. As a result, recognizing the signs of drug use sooner rather than later is important.
There are common signs of habitual drug use across all substances as well as signs that are unique to the type of substance abused.
Knowing these signs can help to identify whether a loved one may be using drugs and risking harmful consequences to their health, school, job, and family life.
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Helping A Friend With Addiction
If you’re worried about a friend who has an addiction, you can use these tips to help him or her. For example, let your friend know that you are available to talk or offer your support. If you notice a friend backsliding, talk about it openly and ask what you can do to help.
If your friend is going back to drugs or drinking and won’t accept your help, don’t be afraid to talk to a nonthreatening, understanding adult, like your parent or school counselor. It may seem like you’re ratting your friend out, but it’s the best support you can offer.
Above all, offer a friend who’s battling an addiction lots of encouragement and praise. It may seem corny, but hearing that you care is just the kind of motivation your friend needs.
Behaviors To Look Out For
Changes in Sleep Patterns. Some of the most abused drugs are stimulants or depressants. Excessive use and abuse of these drugs can cause intense highs characterized by hyperactivity and periods of insomnia or intense lows that cause long periods of sleeping or drowsiness. Addictive substances alter the brains natural circadian rhythm which can actually cause sleep disturbances well after someone has stopped using the drug.
Noticeably Different Energy Levels. People often use drugs to change the way they feel, whether to increase pleasure or calm anxiety. If you notice that your loved one has a drastic change in their usual mood, either they are extremely euphoric or drowsy, it could indicate drug use.
Drastic Personality Change. Over time, drug use alters the chemical and functional structures of the brain. This can result in personality changes. Addiction and the intense need for a drug may cause someone who is normally very docile to become agitated and aggressive. Also, stimulant drugs may cause a normally depressed person to appear very energetic or even manic.
Outbursts, Resentful Behavior, Intense Irritability, or Mood Swings. Though the drugs themselves may cause a change in mood, your loved one may also display signs of irritability or agitation when they do not have the drug in their system or if theyre running out of ways to get that drug. They may become moody and not want to talk to you or anyone that may notice changes due to drug use.
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