How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction: 10 Ways To Support Them
June 02, 2020Addiction
When someone that you love is struggling with addiction, it can also feel like a struggle to find ways to help. The truth of the matter is that recovery from drug addiction is usually a long and complicated journey. With the support of a loved one, it can become that much easier to begin the journey and see it through to the end.
If you dont have much experience with drug or alcohol addiction, the whole situation can quickly feel overwhelming. Instead of ignoring the situation or backing away because of the overwhelm, take the time to encourage them to identify their problem and seek a solution.
Are you trying to navigate the complexities of addiction by being a support system for a loved one? There are certain things you can do to provide the most help. Some things should be avoided for the best chance of recovery.
Below, were sharing how to help a loved one with a substance use addiction and a few things to avoid while supporting someone through it.
Talking About The Problem
In many cases, simply identifying the problem and having the advice of a medical professional to seek treatment, is not enough. Your friend or loved one may be worried about the impact going to treatment will have on their life . While you should never force someone into treatment, you can play an important role in talking them through these concerns. According to NIDA, most employers, friends, and loved ones will be supportive of anyone attempting to get help for their addictionhowever, this may not always be the case. Assuring your friend or loved one at this point that there are many privacy laws that protect them if they decide to seek help is a good idea at this point. Additionally, you should be supportive of their potential choice to seek help, showing them firsthand that the important people in their life will always be there.
Determining The Right Approach
Ideally, all those facing substance misuse and abuse should have access to treatment programs that can help individuals find sobriety and maintain it.
If youre desperate for assistance, contact us today for 24/7 support at 855-288-5588. Speak with one of our qualified admission staff members about concerns youre experiencing and wed be happy to offer some supportive suggestions and give you additional information for the programs we offer.
If you choose to approach your significant other on their possible drug use, here are a few pointers. First, understand that addiction is a disease that can often overtake an individual without warning and can have a tremendous impact on their physical and mental health. Experienced addiction therapists suggest finding a strategy for approaching the situation. Some tips include: avoid nagging, lecturing, begging, or criticizing. Try to find a private moment to discuss your concerns. Omit blame-angry language, and focus, on specific instances that have affected you. Be truthful and honest, and ask questions about what they may be feeling or experiencing.
Above all else, be compassionate and understanding. Substance misuse and addiction can make an individual feel alone and isolated. Finding time to speak with them directly, even if not immediately helpful, can assure them that theres possibility for recovery and that they are loved and cared for.
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How Can I Help
It can feel daunting to confront a mate about their drug use, but its important for friends to help each other. You may feel hurt by things theyve done, but remember that they probably didnt intend to hurt you. Addiction drives the best people to make poor decisions.
Acknowledge that your friend might not see their drug use as a problem
Without an understanding that theres a problem, there wont be a solution. Be honest with your friend about what you think the problem is, and make sure they understand that abusing drugs is a serious issue.
Talk to your friend about your concerns
Talk about the negative effects of addiction in terms of something your friend really cares about. They might not be worried about their health or about getting through uni, but they may really care that someone they love is suffering because of their addiction.
Be positive and let your friend know that youre there for them
Help them stay focused on positive goals that dont include drugs. Support and acknowledge the positive things they do and achieve, and dont abandon your friend when they slip up it will probably take time for them to turn things around.
Avoid using emotional appeals
Dont try to guilt-trip them, and dont preach, bribe or threaten them this will only upset them and push them away.
Dangers Of Teen Marijuana Addiction
Research has examined how . Though findings are mixed, many experts acknowledge there are potential negative effects of weed on developing brains.
Some studies suggest that teenagers who use marijuana frequently may experience short-term effects such as problems with memory, learning, coordination, and judgment.
A large cohort study followed nearly 4,000 young adults over a 25-year period into mid-adulthood. It found that although cumulative lifetime exposure to marijuana is associated with lower verbal memory test scores, exposure did not affect other cognitive abilities like processing speed or executive function.
There are also potential long-term effects. Some studies suggest an association between regular marijuana use in teens and “altered connectivity and reduced volume of specific brain regions.”
However, other studies have found that the differences in brain structure between those who use marijuana and those who don’t could be attributed to “predispositional factors,” including genetics. More research is needed on the direct effect marijuana has on the brain, while taking into consideration the many variables such as frequency of use, genetics, environment, and more.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Prescription Drug Addiction
The symptoms of prescription drug abuse will vary depending upon the substance abused, frequency of abuse, other drug abuse, and length of addiction. The symptoms have been broken down into general symptoms and those specific to the drug of abuse.
Common symptoms of prescription drug abuse include:
- Drug-seeking behaviors
- Taking higher doses than prescribed
- Appearing to be intoxicated, overly energetic, or lethargic
- Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Increased usage of alcohol
- Mood swings relating to availability of prescription medications
- Irritability when medication is not available
- Withdrawal symptoms when prescription drug is not available
- Doctor shopping, or visiting multiple doctors to obtain more prescriptions
- Borrowing prescription medications from others
- Using prescriptions at a much faster rate than prescribed
- Losing multiple prescriptions for prescription medications
- Crushing or breaking pills
- Lying about amount of medication used
- Stashing medication in multiple places around the house
- Ordering prescriptions from internet pharmacies
- Stealing or forging prescriptions
Symptoms of Anti-Anxiety Agents/Sedatives Abuse:
- Drowsiness and excessive sleepiness
- Confusion about time, date, and place
- Appearing intoxicated
Symptoms of Prescription Painkiller Abuse:
Effects Of Smoking Crack Or Cocaine
People who smoke cocaine usually smoke a crystal form of the drug called crack, but some will smoke a mixture of powder cocaine and marijuana. More than half of people who smoke crack will develop a wheeze, cough or shortness of breath. Many crack users will also experience chest pain and cough up black mucus or blood.
Other common lung problems associated with smoking cocaine include:
- Hardening of the lungs
- Worsening asthma
Smoking crack can cause a condition called crack lung, a group of pneumonia-like symptoms that include chest pain, a bloody cough, shortness of breath, itching and a fever. The symptoms usually appear within a day or two of smoking crack. Inhaling crack or powder cocaine can also lead to acute lung injury and respiratory arrest.
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Show Them How Much You Care
If you know someone who is choosing to get help for their addiction, try to support them by checking in and asking how they are. Let them know how much they mean to you and how proud you are of them for taking the steps to improve their lives. Ask them if there is anything they need and listen to them if they need to vent or cry.
Fighting drugs and alcohol addiction is hard it comes with many obstacles. Many people will relapse numerous times on their journeys each time, offer a warm embrace, a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen. Addiction can make someone feel very isolated or alone. Show your loved ones how surrounded by the support they are.
Loving An Addict Or Alcoholic: How To Help Them And Yourself
When a person struggles with drug or alcohol abuse, they are likely to struggle with mental health issues and physical problems, both short-term and chronic issues.
They are also likely to cause suffering for their loved ones, including spouses, parents, children, friends, and other family.
For those who love someone who is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, it is important to know the signs of substance abuse problems and how to best help the person in need. In addition, it is important that family members and friends take care of themselves as well.
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When Should I Seek Treatment For A Loved One
The best time to help someone you love seek treatment is the moment you notice the person is having trouble controlling substance use. While treatment is possible at every stage of addiction severity and it is never easy, early action is the wisest course and spares everyone the significant harm, distress and disruption that may develop otherwise. There is a myth that people have to hit rock bottomwhen their health, their livelihood, their relationships are destroyedbefore they develop the motivation to change.
For most people, long before that, addiction becomes a trap that no longer provides the rewards it once did, and they are stuck in place, craving the very thing that tightens the trap. The fact is, people can be responsive to change if approached in an understanding and respectful way by concerned loved ones.
What It Means To Be Addicted To Someone
Although the word addiction is commonly used to describe intense craving, the clinical use of the term only applies if something is becoming destructive. As stated in my article, When Does Something Become an Addiction?
Something becomes an addiction if it begins to have significant harmful impacts on other areas of your life. In addition, the individual experiences craving, loss of control over the substance or behavior, and is unable to stop despite these harms.
Although strong healthy relationships often involve a high level of desire for the other person, the word addiction would only apply if this desire becomes destructive.
For example, codependent relationships often consist of one person focused on helping another person at the expense of meeting their own needs.
A common codependent scenario may consist of a spouse of a person with an addiction who feels the need to continually hold everything together. They take care of the household, make excuses for the other persons irresponsible behavior while neglecting their own needs, and losing a sense of their own identity.
This behavior may look like helping, but it is actually a form of enabling. As described in my article, When Does Helping Become Enabling?:
Helping becomes enabling when you diminish someone elses responsibility by not allowing them to experience the natural consequences of their behavior.
Lets take a look at what the research says about the origins of this unique form of addiction.
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The Different Meanings Of Recovery
Since the world of addiction treatment has only recently started to become more talked about as a whole, there are still terms without a universally defined meaning. Recovery is one of those. When someone is in recovery, theyre working towards being free from addiction but understand they havent accomplished it quite yet. Even then there are some who take being in recovery as a guaranteed success with others being wary of the chance of relapsing.
Traditionally, the recovery period of 12-step programs encompasses the entire time since last substance use no matter how long its been. When used in this manner, it does help acknowledge that addiction is a lifelong condition that cant truly be cured. While cravings and impulses become easier to manage over time, there will always be periods where they worsen.
Regardless of what recovery means on paper, it has its own weight as the word used to signify someone is on the path thats right for them. Its important to see this as a challenging but fulfilling period as addiction is overcome differently for each and every person that chooses to do so.
What Is Drug Or Alcohol Misuse
Drugs are substances that affect how the body functions. Illegal drugs such as ecstasy and heroin can be harmful and unpredictable. Unlike prescription medicines, there is no government organisation that regulates the quality or amount of active ingredients in illegal substances.
However, not all drugs are illegal. Alcohol is a legal drug that can be harmful if taken in large amounts or for a long time. Medicines that have been prescribed by a doctor can also be harmful if they arent taken as directed or are taken for non-medical reasons.
Drug and alcohol misuse isnt necessarily related to how often or in what quantity a person uses drugs, but the impact their drug use has on their life. Drug or alcohol use can become a problem when it starts to affect a persons judgement, relationships or general health and wellbeing. It can cause them to neglect other responsibilities such as school, work or family.
Drug and alcohol misuse is common. About 1 in 3 people in Australia drink alcohol at risky levels. Two in every 5 people in Australia have used an illegal drug at some point in their lives, including taking pharmaceutical medicines for non-medical purposes.
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Be Aware Of Your Own Behavior
While this final tip might seem a bit counterintuitive, sometimes taking a look at how you are acting around someone can be the final push you need to realize that they may have a problem with prescription pills.
If you find yourself continually making excuses for their behavior, ignoring telling signs of addiction, and consistently covering for them when theyre unable to fulfill their responsibilities, you may actually be enabling their prescription drug abuse addiction.
So, while you may not be the direct cause of their substance use disorder, your actions might still be making the situation worse.
Problems With Relationships Work And School
Its normal to have problems in many areas of life when you or someone you care about struggles with an addiction. One of the major symptoms of drug addiction to consider is whether they have problems with relationships, work, or school.
Substance use disorders are hard on intimate relationships. Because people may act differently or feel pressured to hide their drug use, this can create stress in any relationship. This is especially normal among spouses and romantic partners, but it is not exclusive to them. In fact, its common for people with substance abuse problems to lash out at friends and slowly stop speaking to them entirely. Unfortunately, drugs often become more valuable to them than relationships, which can make it even harder for an outside observer to help them.
Signs of abuse also include trouble getting to work on time or focusing at work, as well as trouble performing well in the classroom. Again, since drugs become the individuals main priority, other obligations tend to fall to the wayside.
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What Is Substance Use Disorder
SUDs can lead to a persons inability to control their use of substances, such as alcohol, drugs, or medications.2 Some people experience moderate to severe symptoms as a result of SUDs, with addiction being the most severe form.2
A person with SUDs may experience symptoms including:3
- Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than intended.
- Trying to cut down or control the use of the substance unsuccessfully.
- Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance.
- Experiencing strong cravings for the substance.
- Trouble fulfilling major obligations at home, school, or work.
- Engaging in risky behavior as a result of using the substance.
- Interference with the persons personal and social life as a result of using the substance.
- Giving up important activities to use the substance.
What Causes Addiction To A Person
Since this form of addiction is so centered on seeking external validation, it is closely related to early childhood attachment experiences.
In a study titled, Psychological Correlates of Codependency in Women, they state:
An association was demonstrated between codependency and parental alcoholism, or history of childhood abuse, or both.
These early childhood experiences may increase a persons likelihood of developing codependent relationships. Early turmoil can instill a deep sense of distrust and relational insecurity.
Psychologists refer to this relational style as anxious attachment. Inconsistent displays of affection in childhood may result in a child being generally anxious, fearing potential abandonment. In adulthood, this results in distrusting others while simultaneously craving intimacy.
The lack of secure attachment can result in persons being highly dependent on relationships, often concerned about abandonment from a romantic partner. Rather than getting to the root of the issue, persons with this type of relational addiction seek short-term reassurance at the expense of long-term relational health and security.
Some of these short-term behaviors include the following:
- Trying to impress others to get their approval
- Trying to fix others
- Doing things to be perceived as the hero
- Excessive gift-giving
- Constantly adapting to fit in
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