How Addiction Affects Loved Ones
Addiction, or a substance use disorder , is a chronic, relapsing brain disease in which a person continues substance use despite the harmful consequences to their health and overall wellbeing.2 A person struggling with addiction is typically unable to stop using a substance through willpower alone, which can sometimes be difficult for families and loved ones to fully understand and cope with.
Addiction can affect family and loved ones in different ways depending on the individual family dynamics, who has an addiction , and other factors.1 A few ways addiction can impact loved ones include:1,7, 22
- Feeling mentally and emotionally drained.
- More alert to a loved ones changes in mood or behavior.
- If a parent has a SUD, children may be more likely to develop a SUD.
- Possibility of violence in the home.
- Poor communication.
- Feeling isolated from a loved one who is struggling.
- Conflict in the home.
- Economic consequences.
The causes of addiction can vary and it is a chronic disorder, but it is also treatable. Help for individuals with a substance use disorder is available through various forms of treatment, therapies, and support.3 The following sections will help you understand common signs of addiction and how to support a loved one who is struggling.
Biological Factors: How Does Your Body Work
In early human history, food scarcity happened on the regular.
To survive, humans evolved to overeat when food was abundant, especially when that food was tasty and calorie-rich.6,7,8
But now, the instinct that once helped us survive makes it hard to stop eating.9
Highly-processed foodsespecially those with a combination of sugar, fat, and saltare the most difficult to resist.
Much like drugs and alcohol, these foods trigger a range of rewarding, feel-good neurochemicals, including dopamine. Highly-processed foods have this effect even when youre not hungry.10,11,12
These days, highly-processed foods are so accessible that you have to rely on your ability to self-regulate, or control your behavior, in order to resist them.
But people who deal with compulsive overeating often have a hard time self-regulating.
People with compulsive overeating may
Struggle with impulse control, possibly because the planning, strategizing center of the brain is impaired. This might be a hallmark of all addictions, and can contribute to poor recovery outcomes.14,15
React more easily and intensely to stressors. They have a higher level of cortisol release than others.16 And because stress can trigger addictive behaviors, people who are more physically sensitive to stress may be more likely to use food as a way to cope.
Dont Forget About Yourself
Being close to someone with a meth addiction can be very hard. The person may act completely unlike themselves. They might be aggressive, mean and emotionally absent. Trying to establish a relationship with an addict that includes trust is hard work.
Its very important that you make sure you are getting the support you need as well. This looks different for everyone. You may find that therapy helps you to deal with the emotional stress of the situation. Simple things like eating well and exercising can help you find the strength you need to rise to the task.
Whatever the case, self-help is essential if you want to help your friend or family member who is struggling with meth addiction. The stronger you are, the more able you will be to help your loved one.
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Dont Look Down On Them
Being upset at your addicted loved one is normal, but understand that addiction is a disease. They did not wake up one morning and decide to become addicted. Avoid blaming them for their addiction or looking down on them for using drugs or alcohol. There is enough stigma surrounding addiction, and what your loved one needs from you is support not judgement.
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.
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Set Up A Personal Intervention
Interventions make it possible for parents and families to take a proactive stance against their sons drug addiction. Theyre a great way to reach out and show the person who needs help how much you love and care for them enough to get them the help they need.
If possible, try to find the right time to talk, ideally one when theyre as sober as possible.
Hold a rehearsal, make a plan, and stick to the script. Deliver your lines clearly and confidently, but also with warmth and love. Try not to deviate and stick to the order of speakers you develop in your rehearsal.
Do everything you can to stay calm and keep tempers under control and dont give up! A professional interventionist can provide integral support before, during, and after your intervention.
Reflect On Your Addiction
Take time to reflect on what is important to you, how addiction has negatively affected you, and how your life will improve with sobriety.
The easiest way to reflect effectively is to keep a daily journal. With a journal, you can help yourself start a plan to stop addiction to help identify patterns, triggers, goals, and motivators.
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Encourage Them To Get Help
As with other diseases, the earlier addiction is treated, the better. However, dont be surprised if youre met with denial or excuses as to why they cant or wont seek treatment. Be persistent about how important it is that they enter treatment for their addiction, but avoid making them feel guilty or ashamed in the process.
Another option is to hold an intervention for your loved one. Although these are often difficult to do, an intervention may be exactly what your loved one needs if theyre deep into their addiction. Consider bringing in an intervention specialist to help you navigate this process.
Dos And Donts When Your Loved One Is Struggling With Addiction
Finding out that your loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol can be heartbreaking. It can leave you feeling angry, hurt, and confused. While it is normal to feel overwhelmed right now, it is important to realize that all hope is not lost. Recovery is possible, and you can help your loved one get there.
Youre most likely wondering what you can do to help? What to say? Where to start? And while there is no set guideline as to how to handle a loved ones addiction, there are certain dos and donts that you should know.
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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.
How Enabling Can Look Like
People with loved ones suffering from addiction enable the addict. They enable them because they blame themselves for what happened to their loved ones. Their guilt makes them sacrifice their boundaries, energy, money, and time. They do this because they think this will help their loved one, without realizing they are only creating a barrier towards recovery.
Below are ways on how enabling can manifest in relationships:
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Use The 5 Second Rule By Mel Robbins And Do It Now
The 5-second rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds, or your brain will kill it. Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for just a nanosecond, but thats all it takes. That one slight hesitation triggers a mental system thats designed to stop you. And it happens in less than, you guessed it, five seconds. Next time your alarm goes off to get up and go to the gym or do your morning exercise, count down in your head 5,4,3,2,1 and immediately push yourself out of bed.
The truth is, youre never going to feel like it, so remember that and be the one that pushes through the mental barrier and start moving! Its been shown in studies at Harvard University that youre 87% more likely to go and do what you set out to for the day if you just push through that initial sticking point. This simple technique can be used to start training again and can also be used to overcome depression, follow it exactly, and it just works.
The Do Something Principle By Mark Manson
Doing something towards your health and fitness goals will provide motivation and the courage to keep moving and stay motivated. The conclusion is that if you lack the motivation to make an important change in your life, then do something, anything really, and then harness the reaction to that action to begin motivating yourself. Action isnt just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it. Action Inspiration Motivation. With action, you will gain inspiration and eventually be motivated to continue to train due to just starting on one small thing like going for your first long walk or doing some push-ups in your home. Pretty soon, youll be doing an entire workout routine with ease, without any thought of difficulty.
If you require the courage and confidence to go into a gym? Do reconnaissance to remove aspects of the unknown. Go in and check it out, meet the coaches and see where you are going into. Or you may want to just start by doing a form of mindfulness, such as downloading 1 Giant Mind or the Calm app to begin meditating or practice breathwork and box breathing. Whatever it is, just start by doing, and this will roll into inspired motivation. Remember that perseverance is not a long race it is many short races, one after the other.
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How Can I Find Support
The first step to getting help is often acknowledging that you need it. So if youre here, youre well on your way to making healthy choices.
Figuring out next steps in getting help for substance use disorder can feel daunting. Know that youre not alone and that you have options, including:
- in-patient treatment facilities
- support groups
If you are interested in finding a rehab facility or day program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration can be a great place to start. You can also find 12-step programs by searching databases like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
For therapists, you can also search the American Board of Addiction Medicine site to check for providers and their credentials.
Dont: Give In To Manipulation
When a person with an addiction is unwilling to seek treatment, they will resort to whatever they need to do to continue feeding their addiction. This may include lying or trying to guilt the people who care for them. Its important to establish boundaries and learn how to say no. It may be very difficult to not react negatively or to stick to your established rules, but its necessary for everyone involved.
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Tips To Get You Fit Mentally Emotionally And Physically
Are you tired of talking about getting moving again and not doing it? Or setting your New Years resolutions and goals to start working out and continue putting it off? How do you change from being dormant to wanting to move and exercise again? Although this is far from easy, and there are thousands of reasons we can find why not to, I would like to share my five actionable tips to help make this process seem manageable and motivating!
No matter how difficult and out of reach your health and fitness goals seem, these techniques will provide you with the motivation and courage to get your health and fitness back on track! Lets focus on the areas we have neglected and now need to be adjusted after the pandemic.
The below quote is one of my favourites and is an excellent reminder that we have the power, and no one can do this for you.
Words by Dr Wayne Dyer, the Father of Motivation himself, Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, its always your choice.
Firstly, one needs to understand that humans have the unique and incredible capacity to experience a wide range of emotions. But if you let your feelings dictate your life experience without pinpointing why you feel a particular way, your emotions control you. Over time, this affects how you think and act every single day. If a sense of well-being fuels you, youll exude happiness and calm. If youre bogged down by negativity, those around you will sense your unhappiness and fear.
Emotion Regulation And Mindfulness
A growing literature is demonstrating the importance of emotion regulation in the treatment of substance use. Considering that nicotine and other psychoactive substances such as cocaine activate similar psycho-pharmacological pathways, an emotion regulation approach may be applicable to a wide array of substance use. Proposed models of affect-driven tobacco use have focused on negative reinforcement as the primary driving force for addiction according to such theories, tobacco is used because it helps one escape from the undesirable effects of nicotine withdrawal or other negative moods.Acceptance and commitment therapy , is showing evidence that it is effective in treating substance use, including the treatment of polysubstance use disorder and tobacco smoking.Mindfulness programs that encourage patients to be aware of their own experiences in the present moment and of emotions that arise from thoughts, appear to prevent impulsive/compulsive responses. Research also indicates that mindfulness programs can reduce the consumption of substances such as alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, cigarettes and opiates.
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How To Help An Addict: What Can You Do
With the restrictive nature of trying to help someone who doesnt want help, you can feel helpless. The only person that you can help is yourself. Helping ourselves is the only way to help our loved ones. There are options for helping yourself. Pursue the ones that you are most comfortable with. The more options you have, the more chances that you have to find the path to your recovery.
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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