Dont Focus On Guilt Or Shame
Someone struggling with addiction is usually already feeling deep guilt, shame and anger about their using. In addition, many feel judged by their family and friends, and will act defensively in response to any criticism that is levelled at them. Rather than helping, if the judgement or moralising does appear, they may turn to using to combat the feelings of stress that this gives them.
It is understandable however, as the person suffering may have already deeply hurt you, broken your trust or angered you. Where there is love left though, it is important to understand that feelings of shame, anger, and judgement can negatively affect your relationship with the person addicted and actively harm their chances of recovery. Research shows that shame is one of the least effective incentives to change, because it is isolating, painful and can make the addicted person believe they are unworthy of love or treatment.
How Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Be Used To Help People Who Suffer From Drug And Alcohol Addiction
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People suffering from addiction may also suffer from a co-occurring mental illness, such as depression or anxiety. Research has found that when the co-occurring illness isnt treated alongside the addiction, the individual is more likely to relapse after leaving a treatment facility. This is because the individual turns to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate for the underlying mental illness. To address this problem, most addiction treatment facilities also provide mental health services to recovering addicts. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is used to effectively treat addicts as they begin their recovery process.
How To Talk To Someone With An Addiction
Start by trying to talk to the person about their addiction. Having a one-on-one conversation may be less intimidating than staging an intervention with several people.
Find a time when you can be alone together and free of distractions or interruptions. Tell them that youre concerned about their behavior and ask if theyre open to hearing your thoughts. Try to use non-blaming language and avoid raising your voice or getting angry. They will likely respond better if you communicate from a place of compassionate concern. It may also help to talk about specific behaviors or incidents related to their addiction that have directly affected you.
If theyre receptive to hearing your thoughts and concerns, ask if they would be willing to seek professional help. They may not be open to discussing this option. They may become defensive. If this happens, let it go for the time being. Dont threaten or shame them. Instead, start talking with other family members and concerned parties to begin planning an intervention.
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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.
Keep A Positive Mindset
Its essential to try to seek the positives in the situation and celebrate the progress made. Changing addictive behavior is hard, just like making any significant change of habit. Yet its even harder than that because there are chemicals involved that interfere with their decision-making ability.
Even if they slip up, try to remain positive. Use supportive communication to explore what led to the slip-up, and then figure out how to avoid it in the future. You dont want your loved one to slide back, so encourage them to see how far theyve come already.
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Actively Support Their Recovery
Recovery is not for the weak or for the faint of heart. It is a lot of hard work.
There will be a period of withdrawal, often with harshly unpleasant symptoms, and your loved one may express fear or doubt that they are inadequate to the task at hand. This is where you offer support and encouragement. Let them know that they are strong enough. Tell them you are proud of them.
Follow the advice of their team of treatment professionals.
- Many facilities have initial no-contact rules for a period of time. Respect those, and allow your loved one to focus on their recovery.
- When contact is resumed, stay positive. Dont overwhelm them with problems.
- Do not support them if they are thinking about leaving the program early. For example, dont offer them a ride from the facility or money to help them get settled again. Encourage them to stay for the recommended length.
- Attend any family meetings
When they graduate from the residential program and begin the intensive outpatient treatment, offer them assistance where needed. Their recovery is their responsibility, but you can enable that recovery, just as you enabled your active addiction:
Addiction is a lonely disease, and recovery can be greatly aided when the newly-sober addict/alcoholic has a strong, loving support system.
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.
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How To Break The Stigma Of Drug Addiction
Like many people who are somehow different to the societys standards of what normal should be, those struggling with addictions are subjected to stigmas that can be extremely damaging.
Because of these stigmas, people with addictions are at higher-than-average risk of unemployment and homelessness. Their sense of self-worth, which is often low, to begin with, takes a dive and they are increasingly unlikely to get the help they need.
It is easy to say that people with addictions have made their own beds and now they must lie in them, but most situations are far more complex than that. Addictions have all kinds of origins some of them are results of poor choices, others are borne of circumstances.
Regardless of how addiction starts, the person suffering from it has a far greater chance of overcoming it if the people around them are non-judgmental and supportive. If you remember these facts about addiction, you can help break down the social stigmas and give addicts a better chance at overcoming their challenges and improving their lives.
Recognizing Drug Abuse In A Loved One
Its not always easy to recognize if a loved one is abusing drugs. In teens, for example, drug abuse can often resemble normal adolescent moodiness. Furthermore, theres no specific amount or frequency of use that indicates someones drug use has become a cause for concern. Whether your loved one is using every day or every month, its the adverse impact their drug abuse has on their life that indicates a problem.
Signs your loved one may have a substance use disorder include:
Experiencing problems at work, school, or home. They appear high more often, for example, and take more days away from work or school to compensate. Their work performance or school grades suffer, they neglect their responsibilities at home, and encounter more and more relationship difficulties. They may even lose their job, drop out of school, or separate from a long-term partner.
New health issues, such as changes in sleep schedule, often appearing fatigued or run-down, pronounced weight loss or weight gain, glassy or bloodshot eyes, and forgetfulness or other cognition problems. Depending on the type of drug theyre abusing, they may also exhibit frequent sniffing, nosebleeds, or shaking.
Recurring financial problems. Your loved one may run up credit card debt to support their drug use, seek loans, or ask to borrow money without any solid reason. They may even steal money or valuables to sell for drugs.
Drug paraphernalia to look out 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.
Dont Accept Or Make Excuses For Their Substance Abuse
Many family members and loved ones of someone with addiction eventually find themselves in a place where they have to lie or hide their loved ones substance abuse from others. This is something people can often do under the guise of protecting their loved ones from legal, personal, or other consequences.
Although you may wish to protect this person from further harm, accepting their excuses for abusing drugs and alcohol or making excuses for it yourself gives them the opportunity to continue engaging in these behaviors.
Covering up your loved ones substance abuse whether that means calling in sick for them at work or supporting them financially further normalizes their addiction. Resisting these actions can help both you and your loved one face the reality of their addiction and its many harms.
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Tip #: Get Counseling
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It may be helpful to get some individual counseling to assist yourself. Counseling isnt just for the addict. The more you are able to manage the better you will be able to help your loved one. There are a variety of resources to find counselors. Your company may have an Employee Assistance Program or your health insurance may have mental health benefits that you can access. Talk to someone you trust about finding the resources you need and do a search for resources in your area.
How To Help Someone Who Is Addicted To Heroin
Caring for someone with a heroin addiction isnt easy, but there is a lot families can do to help. They can:
- Learn all they can about how heroin works
- Hold a drug intervention meeting
- Identify inpatient heroin treatment options
- Obtain preauthorization for treatment from insurance companies
- Interview heroin addiction treatment providers
- Transport the person to the treatment facility
- Participate in therapy appointments, as needed
- Identify heroin addiction support group meetings in the community
- Look for signs of heroin addiction relapse
Out of all the illegal drugs that hurt, and even kill, people, heroin is one of the number one drugs, says CNN.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated in 2011 that 4.2 million people aged 11 and over had tried heroin, and 23 percent of those people would become addicted to the drug.
Heroin use is on the rise, spiking 250 percent between 2000 and 2014 in Vermont, with more than 681,000 heroin users across the United States in 2013, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Even in the face of such overwhelming numbers, real recovery is very attainable for those who are addicted to heroin. Treatment options for heroin addictions can help individuals to build new, clean lives that are free from all heroin use.
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Maintain Your Support During Treatment & Recovery
If you are able to figure out how to help an addict who doesnt want help and they enter a rehab facility, its essential to keep the support coming. Even though quality rehab centers have highly qualified staff members, your loved one still needs the support of family and friends to make it through successfully. Remain involved in the solution as much as possible and continue to support their treatment until it is complete.
Once they have completed the treatment portion, your support will be more critical than ever during the recovery process. Make sure to keep in close contact, encourage them to attend support meetings and aftercare programs, and watch for any signs of relapse. Try to be that ray of optimism they need while staying firm with your boundaries and holding them accountable for their own actions.
Seek Help For Yourself
The recovery process can be just as hard on you as it is on your loved one. Whether you convince them to seek treatment or not, its important for you to take care of your own mental health.
Consider seeking one-on-one counseling or attending a support group like Narc-Anon or Al-Anon. This will help you face your feelings and give you the tools you need to navigate through this difficult time.
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What To Avoid When Talking To A Loved One About Addiction
When talking to a loved one about getting treatment for their addiction, here are some things to avoid:
- Preaching, lecturing, threatening or moralizing your loved one
- Emotional appeals that may increase the feelings of guilt and the compulsion to use drugs
- Lying or making excuses for their behavior
- Taking over their responsibilities doing this protects them from the consequences of their behavior
- Enabling their behavior by covering up the abuse or giving them money for drugs
- Arguing with your loved one when theyre using drugs during this time, your loved one wont be able to hold a rational conversation and likely wont be open to what you have to say
- Feeling guilty or responsible for their behavior its not your fault
If you feel that your loved one is abusing drugs, the best thing you can do is to encourage them to seek treatment for their addiction. Be loving and supportive, but also know that theyre likely going to make excuses for their behavior. Be firm in what you want, and keep encouraging them to get help. Although this isnt easy to do, its a critical first step in helping them achieve a healthy and happy life in recovery.
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.
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What You Need To Know About Drug Addiction
In previous years, drug abuse has been an increasingly growing problem among Canadian adults and youth, regardless of gender and age. The harmful and excessive use of drugs other than for medication purposes leads to numerous health problems that affect the overall well-being of the person. There are signs and symptoms of drug addiction and abuse that could help determine the problem at an early stage for immediate addiction treatment or intervention.
One of the tendencies of drug addicts is to increasingly and regularly use the drug several times every day even to the point of endangering themselves and other people.
Drug abuse affects people in different ways and levels but you would know addiction when they start neglecting and not giving importance to things they prioritized before. These may include family, friends, work, school, social activities, recreations, and other commitments.
The person that is hooked into drugs spends an enormous amount of time using, accessing and recovering yet going back to using drugs. Drug addicts become secretive particularly on their financial spending and their tendency to overspend on drugs just to satisfy their compulsive cravings.