How To Help An Alcoholic Who Doesnt Want Help
If you have tried to talk to your alcoholic family member and they still dont want help, you are left with a couple of options.
- Do an intervention . It may help them realize how their addiction is affecting the people around them.
- Try to get them to get an evaluation from a doctor or addiction specialist. They may be more willing to get help if an expert recommends treatment.
- Wait and try again. Sometimes people need time and persistent encouragement to recognize the need for change.
Try to avoid forcing them into treatment. While this method can work in some cases, it can also backfire. Often, the person needs to be ready to change to be willing to do the work necessary to recover.
Though it can be extremely difficult, in some cases, you may need to consider leaving the relationship or cutting the person off. This is particularly true if the person is physically or verbally abusive to you or other members of your family.
Addict In The Family: Stories Of Loss Hope And Recovery
Personal stories are one of the best ways to learn about any subject, and addiction is no exception. In Addict in the Family, Beverly Conyers educates us through heart-wrenching stories that validate all of the feelings families of addicts feel. Some of this book can be painful to read, but its so cathartic to learn that others feel the same intense pain that weve felt. There are many important lessons to be learned in this book.
Words of Wisdom: Todd was voicing important questions that haunt anyone who has ever loved an addict: What did I do that caused this problem? and What can I do to fix it? He had not yet discovered the simple truth about addiction that is so hard for families to accept: You didnt cause it, you cant control it, and you cant cure it.
Understanding Your Loved Ones Substance Abuse
People start using drugs for a lot of different reasons. Many turn to substances to cope with the emotional pain of a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Known as self-medicating, some people may be aware they have a mental health issue but are unable to find healthier ways of coping, while others remain undiagnosed and use drugs to manage specific symptoms.
Other people turn to drugs to change how they feel, to fit in, or to alleviate boredom or dissatisfaction with their lives. Then there are those whose substance abuse develops from a doctors well-intentioned efforts to treat a medical condition. Of all the people prescribed opioids to relieve pain, for example, estimates suggest that more than a quarter will end up misusing the drug.
Whatever your loved ones reason for starting, though, not everyone who uses drugs develops a problem. While the exact causes of addiction arent clear, genetics likely plays a role, along with environmental factors. While one person is able to use substances without detrimental effects, another finds even casual use quickly escalates into compulsion and addictiona very dark hole from which they can feel powerless to emerge.
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Seek Professional Financial Counseling
A financial counselor can help you — as an individual and as a family — find solutions to current financial problems by working with you to create a budget and a plan for the future.
Consider what appropriate boundaries are. Maybe that means closing shared accounts, divesting yourself of shared financial responsibility, or not lending money to the addict.
Keep a close eye on your credit — you’re entitled to one free copy of your report each year — because the sooner you notice any surprises on your credit report, such as a substantial debt increase or new accounts opened, the better. Negative comments in your credit report such as late or missed payments stick with you for up to seven years .
According to statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the cost of addiction is more than cancer and Type 2 diabetes combined — as a nation we spend more than $530 billion on health and crime costs related to drug addiction compared to about $171 billion on annual cancer costs and $131 billion on annual diabetes costs.
Gain Support From Peers
Peer support groups for families of addicts like Al-Anon can put family members in touch with others who know a great deal about addiction, and the information shared in these meetings can be transformative. In fact, according to a 2012 Al-Anon membership survey, 88 percent of people who came to meetings for the first time reported understanding the seriousness of the addiction only after theyd attended several meetings. In other words, people who go to these meetings may not know very much about the challenges their families are facing, but if they keep going to meetings, theyll learn.
Some families go to meetings just to listen. They come to understand that other families are also dealing with this problem, and they learn how these families are focusing on success. Others go to these meetings to network. They seek out peers who have overcome nasty addiction challenges, and they ask for advice on steps that really work. Either method could be helpful. The key is to get started.
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How You Can Help Someone Who Is In Recovery
Family involvement is just one of the ways in which you can help your loved one when theyre in treatment. It allows counselors and doctors to get a better understanding of the patient as well as their behavioral patterns and habits. Other ways in which you can help your loved one include:
- Getting involved: Attend family therapy and express your feelings. This will allow them to get a better idea of how their addiction affects everyone around them. Its also a great way to show that you support your loved ones Recovery because you are willing to invest the time and effort to help them heal.
- Communicating with them: Once the blackout period is lifted, you will likely be allowed some contact with your loved ones. Communication can be very difficult, and a seemingly safe conversation can spiral into a heated argument. Find a mode of communication that works for both of you, be it phone calls, emails or in-person visits. Use it as an opportunity to verbalize your support.
- Offering support: Saying youre there for your loved one is one thing, but support goes beyond that. Talk positively about the future and of your loved ones progress. Let them know theyre not alone.
- Trusting but being mindful: Its important to maintain trust throughout the Recovery process, but its also important to remember not to fall into old habits. Show your loved one that you trust them, but be aware of old behaviors that may be problematic or harmful.
Approaching The Topic Of Addiction Recovery
Talking openly about your concerns may currently feel challenging. You may lack insight into the right approach to discuss addiction recovery and the experiences that your family member is encountering.
You should approach the topic with compassion, with a degree of understanding, with respect, with encouragement at the forefront, and with positivity.
Remember that you may experience some push backs and you may initially struggle to express your feelings. Yet, by continuing your efforts, you will show your loved one that you care, and that youre here to help through their addiction issue.
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What Are Some Of The Ways That Loved Ones Think They Are Helping An Addict But Are Making The Situation Worse
One of the most common mistakes families make in regards to a loved ones addiction is enabling the behavior. Sometimes, family members dont even realize they are doing this. Often, family members dont fully understand the extent of the issue and may fear they are overreacting. When the addict is an older family member, such as a parent, it can be especially difficult for the child to confront their parent about drug abuse. But if family members are noticing that the addict is experiencing problems directly related to substance abuse, then the family is not overreacting.
If someone continues to use drugs or alcohol despite the consequences, that is an indicator of a significant problem, and family members are not wrong to be concerned. If the family fails to address the issue and instead continues to ignore the problem, then they are making the addiction more important than the problems it is causing.
One of the most effective ways to help an addicted loved one realize that they have an issue with drugs or alcohol is to allow them to experience the full consequences of their actions. Family and friends often make the mistake of cleaning up after the addict.
For example, alcohol and drug use will frequently impair a users memory, and loved ones may find themselves agreeing with the users version of events, even if they know those events arent true. Other prime examples of enabling behavior include:
Learn More About Helping Your Loved One
Your encouragement and involvement can make a big difference to your family member who is struggling with addiction. To learn more about how you can help them on their journey towards recovery, contact JourneyPure Emerald Coast. The most important thing you can do for your family member is to get him or her help as soon as possible. The faster substance abuse ends, the faster the damage can be mitigated and/or prevented.
Contact JourneyPure Emerald Coast today, and let our compassionate experts guide you to the best recovery options for your family member. No matter what the situation, recovery is possible. There is a happier, healthier life waiting at the end of this journey.
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Take Our Substance Abuse Self
Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.
What Is The Role Of Family In Addiction Recovery
Substance abuse and addiction can damage family dynamics, erode trust, and weaken communication. Family members who experience a loved one battling with a substance use disorder often endure a host of painful emotions. Equally frustrating is the hopelessness loved ones feel in response to substance abuse. Family members may feel at a loss when seeing a loved one caught in the grips of substance abuse. For example, stumbling upon burnt spoons and used syringes can create paralyzing feelings of fear and shock.
However, family members can help their loved one achieve and maintain sobriety. Despite seeing a loved one struggle, family members can and ideally do play a major role in the treatment process. The role of family in addiction recovery is large and important.
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Your Role In Helping A Family Member With An Addiction Issue
On initial acknowledgement, its understandable to experience a wide spectrum of emotions, in relation to your loved ones addiction diagnosis. Theres a chance you may feel angry, disappointed, concerned, anxious, helpless and accountable.
However, while you may feel negatively towards their initial actions of drug and alcohol abuse, its important to remember that addiction is uncontrollable and that your opinions will not ease this experience.
Instead, you can play a significant role in helping a family member with an addiction issue, by providing a trustworthy form of support, by offering a helping hand and listening ear, and by encouraging the idea of rehabilitation.
This isnt time to make judgments or overshare. This isnt a time to compare experiences or ask personal questions surrounding the use of drugs and alcohol. Its a time to stand as a family and fulfil the duty of compassion, care and commitment.
Understandably, dealing with a family member with an addiction issue may feel out of your depth. You will encounter tests and push backs.
Yet, with the right approach, along with the use of small yet progressive steppingstones, you can learn to deal with and support your loved one through addiction issues and rehabilitation efforts.
What’s It Like To Live With A Parent Who Has A Substance Use Problem
Living with a parent who has a substance use problem is hard. It can affect how you feel and act. It can affect your family life too. What it’s like is different for each person. Here are some common examples. See if some of them describe what’s it’s like for you.
How people might feel. Some people feel:
- embarrassed, angry, or sad about a parent’s substance use
- worried about their parent’s health or safety
- worried for themselves, siblings, or their other parent
- scared, alone, or unsafe at home
- frustrated when their parent doesn’t change
- relieved when a parent takes steps to recover
- it’s hard to trust or relax
- they have to be an adult before they’re ready
How people might act. Some people:
- try hard not to upset a parent who drinks too much
- try to stay out of a parent’s way
- may not speak up, or ask for what they need
- keep their feelings to themselves
- keep their parent’s problem a secret
- hide what their life is like at home
- avoid having friends over because they never know how their parent will act
- miss school, or have trouble keeping up with schoolwork
- take on adult tasks
- argue or fight with a parent
- harm themselves
- act like they don’t care, even if they are hurting
How family life might be affected. In some families with substance problems:
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Realize Theres A Lot About Substance Abuse To Learn
Having feelings of fear, worry and anger is understandable and normal. As with any other chronic illness, the more informed you are the better you will be able to support your loved one. You can help them, and yourself, by educating yourself. Learn more about substance use disorder, interventions, treatment methods and recovery programs. And know that now is not the time to nag, preach or lecture your loved one about what they should have done, how things could have been better or how wrong they are.
Seek professional help on how to approach your loved one about their addiction so they can get treatment for it. Assistance in Recovery is one resource in our community that offers advocates who can help coach you on ways to do this that work. They can also explain the variety of treatment options out there for your loved one many of which include the involvement of family and others who are supportive.
HealthPartners alcohol and substance abuse recovery treatment programs in Minnesota and Wisconsin include:
Find An Approach That Works
There are a number of different treatment options that can be effective, so it is important to consider the options. Think about which approach might be best suited to you and your loved one’s needs and goals.
Depending on the nature of the addiction, treatment might involve psychotherapy, medication, support groups, or a combination of all of these. A few options include:
Other important factors that can affect a person’s recovery include family involvement and other social supports. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that family therapy is an important part of an effective recovery plan.
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Addiction And The American Family
Substance use disorder affects the family unit in distinct and harmful ways. Children may begin to take on adult responsibilities to compensate for their parents problems, or one parent may take on the full emotional weight of the familys suffering as a result of their spouses deficiencies. These effects often extend beyond the nuclear family. Extended family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors will also have emotional struggles and increased burdens as a result of the addicted persons negative actions and neglect.
How To Help An Addicted Family Member After Treatment
One of the best ways that you can help your loved one after treatment is by getting involved in their program while they are in treatment. Most treatment centers offer family services, such as educational and therapeutic workshops. Participating in these can help you learn more about addiction as a disease, develop coping skills, sort out feelings of resentment and frustration, and learn how to support your family member in recovery.
When your family member completes treatment and returns home, it is going to be a time of transition for everyone. It is completely normal to feel nervous, unsure, and emotional during this time, as the changes your loved one has made are drastic. However, with the skills that both your family member and you have learned during the treatment phase, you can enact healthy behaviors and actions that support sobriety and proper family functioning.
Transition can be difficult for everyone, but with some thinking ahead, you can lay the groundwork for success in your family. Some of the things that you can do to help support your loved one in recovery and ease this transition include the following:
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Drug Or Alcohol Abuse Symptoms
Mayo Clinic offers a comprehensive list of symptoms that may be displayed by a person struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. Many of these may be internal experiences for that individual however, symptoms that may be evident to others include:
- Appearing intoxicated more and more often
- Developing problems with cognition and memory
- Being lethargic, sleeping more, sleeping irregular hours, or appearing unwell or tired
- Developing problems at work or school possibly losing ones job or dropping out of school
- Attending social events only if drugs or alcohol are available becoming intoxicated before the social event or attending fewer social events specifically to drink or use drugs
- Stealing money or valuables to pay for drugs
- Lying about the substance or how much they are using
- Becoming angry, sad, or lashing out when questioned about their substance abuse
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to take the drug
- Neglected appearance and poor hygiene
People who struggle with substance abuse problems are likely to behave differently when they are intoxicated versus when they are sober they may say or do hurtful things, and they are likely to take serious risks with their life, such as driving while intoxicated. These behavioral problems can cause intense worry and fear in loved ones.