Friday, April 12, 2024

How To Be There For An Addict

An Artist And A Scientist Take On The Stigma Of Addiction

How to Help Someone With a Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Mable-Jones lost a decade to addiction, entering rehab and relapsing repeatedly. It was a terrifying time for her and her family.

“My mother calling the morgues,” she recalled. “She’d call my sister and say … ‘I haven’t heard from Anna.’ “

But in a pattern researchers say is common, Mable-Jones’ illness eventually eased. She found treatment that worked and has lived drug-free for more than 20 years.

“Things that I thought I would never gain again, through the process of recovery I have them all,” she said. “Today I’m a homeowner, I own a car, I started my own business.”

A person in recovery for drug addiction looks out from a substance abuse treatment center in Westborough, Mass.hide caption

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A person in recovery for drug addiction looks out from a substance abuse treatment center in Westborough, Mass.

What Is Sexual Addiction

Id say the biggest thing that most people dont understand about sexual addiction is that sex addiction isnt about sex. The way that I see it, sexual addiction is more about shame, isolation, adrenaline, and unworthiness than it is about chasing after sexual experiences.

Or, as one SAA member once so eloquently put it in a meeting that I attended, When I act out with sex workers, Im not thinking to myself Oh boy, this is going to be super fun!. But rather, Im thinking I have such a tornado of pain inside of myself that I either have to kill myself or compulsively act out to numb the pain.’

Compulsive sexual behaviour is what sex addicts use to numb out their emotions, just like alcoholics often use staying drunk to avoid feeling their underlying difficult emotions.

Sexual addiction, just like any drug addiction, can have a sliding scale of symptoms ranging in severity. For some people, sex addiction looks like chronic masturbation to porn, where they dont feel like they can function in society without climaxing at least seven times a day. For others, sex addiction could look like occasional flare ups of wanting to use or act out with sex workers only when theyre going through emotionally trying times .

Ive met hundreds of sex addicts and there is no singular unifying theme that connects all addicts at least not in terms of how they like to act out sexually.

If the behaviour has control over you, then it has likely become a problem in your life.

Spotting The Signs Of Addiction

Friends and family are often the first to notice the signs and symptoms of addiction. However, they may be reluctant to intervene for a few reasons. The reality of substance abuse may be too painful, or they may be afraid of driving their loved one even deeper into self-destruction. In many cases, family members dont interfere with substance abuse because it serves a purpose in the family system. Allowing a hard-working spouse to drink heavily on weekends may help the family sustain their income, for example. Keeping an addicted parent supplied with tranquilizers or painkillers may help the rest of the household avoid a difficult confrontation.

For the sake of your own health and the wellbeing of your family, as well as the health and safety of your loved one, its important to respond to the signs of addiction when you notice them.

The most common physical signs of addiction include:

  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • A pale or reddened complexion
  • Bloodshot or watery eyes
  • Uncharacteristic outbursts of anger or aggression
  • Poor hygiene and grooming
  • Secretive behavior
  • Unusual or inappropriate clothing

Recommended Reading: How To Stop Tobacco Addiction

Approaching And Helping An Addict


Trying to help someone with an addiction can be a long, challenging, and painful process. Unlike someone with a physical health condition, such as cancer, a person with an addiction might not recognize the true danger of their illness or understand the risks of not treating it.

Its important to remember that they are ultimately responsible for their own recovery. Typically, they must first recognize that they have an addictive disorder. Then, they must be ready and willing to address their addiction before their recovery can even begin. Setting realistic expectations and boundaries can help you provide support, while protecting your own well-being.

Will My Friend Get Into Trouble

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If your friend needs medical help either from a clinic or an ambulance its essential that you tell the people helping everything you know about the drugs theyve taken.

And if you have any drugs left, hand them over to the medics as it may help them understand the problem.

They won’t tell the police and you wont get into trouble.

If your friend is caught with drugs, they might get into trouble. They might get a warning, an arrest, a formal caution or a conviction. This will depend on the drugs theyre caught with and what theyre doing with them.

If your friend is caught with drugs at school or university they might get into trouble there too. Getting caught with drugs in school or uni can lead to suspension or expulsion, and to the police getting involved.

Read Also: How Is Suboxone Used To Treat Addiction

Establish And Honor Boundaries

Creating boundaries is crucial when dealing with an addict. It can be easy to feel responsible for keeping them clean and safe, but thats not your job. If you want to help someone, your job is to provide appropriate loving support. It is not your duty to overextend yourself for their sake.

Establish boundaries to protect yourself and your energy. Limits can be things like the times youre available to talk on the phone or ways that you are willing to contribute, like healthy meals and rides to doctors appointments. Once you establish them with your loved one, honor them. They will respect you for keeping your word and appreciate your involvement.

How To Let Go Of An Addict You Love

Unfortunately, learning how to let go of an addict you love is much easier said than done.

There are some steps you can take once you have decided the time has come to let go of an addict you love.

First, you will need to separate yourself, both physically and emotionally. During this time, its important that you find a strong support system because you will need it. Often loved ones of an addict will participate in a group of other people whose loved ones are an addict. When you do that it can help you move forward in a positive, productive way, and also understand that youre not alone. During this time you will also need to create a list of things that you know you will have to change as part of your goal of letting go of an addict you love.

If you slip up on some of the commitments you make to yourself during this time, its okay, and you can continue moving forward without being too hard on yourself. Whats most important as you learn how to let go of an addict you love is simply to do your best.

You should also try to find things that you enjoy doing for yourself, and you should work on creating the life that you want without the inclusion of the addict.

Read Also: How Do I Know If I Have An Addictive Personality

What Its Like Loving An Addict

First, when you love an addict, you have to understand that their addiction takes precedence over everything else, including you. People can start to take it personally, and it understandably hurts them deeply to feel as if the addict they love only cares about the drugs or alcohol, but the addicts brain is driving them toward placing the substance at the top of their priority list.

No matter what an addict says or promises, they are only driven by their desire to continue using, and theres not much of anything you can do to change that.

Also when you love an addict, they are going to lie, cheat and steal to get what they want, which is more drugs or alcohol. They can be charming and manipulative when it serves their purposes, and as the loved one of an addict, its essential that you understand that it is nothing more than just that: manipulation.

When you love an addict, you may constantly feel that youre on edge, or worried when that dreaded phone call is going to come.

So what can you do when you love an addict?

Theres very little you can do, and you certainly cant fix the person. Addiction is a complex disease, and theres no amount of threatening or begging thats going to eliminate the problem. Instead, one of the best things you can do when you love an addict is making sure youre not enabling them.

What happens if that doesnt work though? When is it time to give up, and how can you let go of an addict you love?

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Did you know that substance abuse takes a lot of out of the countrys economy?

About $740 billion gets lost due to crime, health care, and lost productivity. It could cripple you too, even if youre not the one suffering from addiction.

Knowing someone with an addiction can lead to detrimental relationships among friends and family.

Fortunately, there are always symptoms of substance dependence, allowing you to know whether someone you know uses drugs to get by. This is a sign you need to learn how to help an addict recover.

Not sure how or where to start? If you dont know how to support them, you can use these tips:

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How To Raise The Subject

People often worry that initiating a discussion with the person with the problem will lead him or her to take drastic steps. They might make a scene in front of other family members, move out of the house, drop out of school, use more excessively, try to hide their problem, or retaliate against them or other family members. However, you might find the conversation to be a wonderfully productive experience. Perhaps the person simply hasnt noticed behavioral changes or doesnt realize that his or her substance use was or is causing a problem. And without change, the problems may become so severe that the same drastic outcomes could result.

What Are Substance Abuse And Addiction

The difference between substance abuse and addiction is very slight. Substance abuse means using an illegal substance or using a legal substance in the wrong way. Addiction begins as abuse, or using a substance like marijuana or cocaine.

You can abuse a drug without having an addiction. For example, just because Sara smoked pot a few times doesn’t mean that she has an addiction, but it does mean that she’s abusing a drug and that could lead to an addiction.

People can get addicted to all sorts of substances. When we think of addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people become addicted to medicines, cigarettes, even glue.

Some substances are more addictive than others: Drugs like crack or heroin are so addictive that they might only be used once or twice before the user loses control.

Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who’s addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.

Also Check: How To Talk To An Addict Who Has Relapsed

Do I Need Health Insurance To Receive This Service

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

Is Fentanyl A Game

Drug Abuse and its Effects

People walk past an East Harlem health clinic that offers free needles and other services to drug users on in New York.hide caption

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People walk past an East Harlem health clinic that offers free needles and other services to drug users on in New York.

One troubling question is whether this pattern multiple relapses leading to eventual recovery will continue now that more street drugs are contaminated with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.

“It’s killing them on the first try,” said Anna Mable-Jones. “It’s not giving them enough tries, as I may have had.”

Some communities are trying to help, providing active drug users with clean needles and making the overdose-reversal drug Narcan more widely available.

Read Also: How To Control An Addictive Personality

Can Drug Addiction Be Cured Or Prevented

As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isnt a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches tailored to each patients drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery.

More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking. Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.

How Can I Stop My Friend Taking Lots Of Drugs

You cant force your friend to do anything they dont want to do, but you still might be able to help.

Start by encouraging your friend to stay away from the places where theyd normally take drugs , and suggest other activities.

You can also remind your friend of the potential dangers involved in taking lots of drugs and tell them where they can get accurate information about what theyre using. Whatever happens, make sure your friend knows youre around and happy to talk that youre there to help and not judge.

Read Also: Why Do Drug Addicts Lie About Everything

Enabling Behaviors Come In Various Forms

Some further examples of enabling behavior include:

  • Taking the responsibilities of the addict as your own.
  • Making excuses for them and covering for them.
  • Providing access to drugs and/or alcohol by having them in the home.
  • Giving the addicted individual empty threats like threatening to kick them out but failing to actually do so.
  • Drinking or getting high with the person.

It is very difficult to differentiate between enabling an addict and being a caring person. Also, it can be challenging to find the fine line that stands between helping someone and enabling the person. Your loved one may sometimes seem desperate to have more drugs or alcohol. As his or her body goes into withdrawal between periods of substance use, the individual will struggle to feel normal. So, your loved one may ask you for help in acquiring drugs or alcohol.

In these challenging moments, seeing your friend or family member in a desperate condition can be overwhelming. In an effort to end your loved ones suffering, you might give in to the pressure and give him or her money or access to the substances they abuse.

Of course, this may seem like the best thing you can do in order to help your loved one to feel better. But, its only worsening the problem in the long run. Tough love is absolutely essential in this scenario. Spending more time and energy enabling your loved ones addiction will take away from his or her health. It will also take away from your own life: your time, sanity, and money.

Couples And Family Therapy

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Addiction doesn’t only affect your life your whole family is transformed. Successful treatment is more likely when you have strong relationships with family and friends. Various counseling methods include your spouse and other family members.

Why try family or couples therapy?

  • Family members can be a powerful force for change in your life.
  • Including them can make you more likely to stay in therapy.
  • They can begin to heal the damage your addiction has caused in their life.

Studies show family therapy results in lower relapse rates, increased happiness in the family, and helps children of addicted parents manage their situation.

Also Check: How To Beat Nicotine Addiction

Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs

Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.

American Addiction Centers Can Help is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers , a leading provider in outpatient programs such as drug and alcohol detox care, and inpatient rehab programs. If you are struggling with addiction and considering detox or rehab, call our team to help you find the treatment you need. You can reach us at Who Answers?

American Addiction Centers accepts many insurance plans and can work with you on a manageable payment plan. Find out if your insurance coverage includes addiction rehab and treatment by verifying your insurance instantly or visiting the links below:

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