Challenges Of Supporting A Person With Addiction
Common challenges a person may experience when loving/supporting a person with an addiction can include:1, 7
- Not having healthy boundaries. You might not be able to tell where you and your loved ones emotions end and begin. You might let them get away with behaviors that you wouldnt tolerate from others.
- Stress. Supporting a loved one with an addiction can add stress to your life because youre not sure what they may do, how theyll act, or how to help them.
- Neglecting your own needs. You may be so focused on the needs of your loved one, you may neglect your own physical or mental health needs.
- Ignoring abuse or neglect. You might justify their behavior, make excuses, or say things like they cant help it.
- Relationship conflict. You might have increased arguments or fights, which can be difficult especially if children are present.
- Social isolation. You might feel embarrassed about the problem and avoid seeing friends or family or seeking help for yourself.
Where Can They Seek Professional Support
Seeking help for a drug problem can be scary, especially if it is the first time. A person may worry that they will be judged for their drug use. They may also worry about what will happen to them if the drugs they have used are illegal.
Let them know that seeking help is a good thing and there are places they can go for confidential support. Our blog on seeking help for drug addiction has some useful contacts.
You could even offer to go to any appointments or meetings with them. This may be welcomed, especially if they are going for the first time.
What Warning Signs Have I Seen
There may be one particular incident that pushes you toward talking to your loved one about addiction. However, there have probably been many other signs often subtle youve noticed along the way. Indications of addiction to look for in your family member or friend include:
- Change in Appearance Is my normally well-dressed loved one neglecting their personal appearance?
- Health Issues Is my loved one suffering from new health issues?
- Altered Behavior Have I noticed major changes in how my loved one is acting?
- Different Spending Habits Has my loved one asked me for money without giving a reason?
- Issues at School or Work Does my loved one skip school or work frequently or have a dramatic change in performance?
You may not even know for sure that your loved one is using drugs, but these questions can help you determine if your spouse, family member or friend is using and trending toward addiction.
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Acting Out Of Character & Personal Safety
Some people take drugs because it makes them less inhibited but this can have negative effects too. They might do things they wouldnt normally do that they later regret, like having unprotected sex. If your friend is out of it or having a bad experience on drugs, theyll be vulnerable and may need help and looking after.
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.
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What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
Explain That Addiction Is An Illness
Emphasise to the addicted person that addiction is an illness, rather than a character flaw, or moral failing. Assure them that they are a good person who happens to be suffering from a destructive disease one which causes progressive mental and physical decline, and could ultimately be fatal. Persuade them that abstinence is the only way for them to get better, and promise them that you will be there to support them recovery.
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What Does Denial In Addiction Look Like
Denial can be outright refusal to believe there is an issue. It can also be recognizing there may be a problem and their problems arent that bad. Comparisons to others who have lost more than they have is a common justification and manipulation to themselves and others. Many alcoholics feel they do not have a problem because they are still employed. An addict addicted to opiates may think they are justified because of legitimate physical pain and they arent junkies because the medication was prescribed by a doctor. A common denominator behavior in most alcoholics and addicts is the thought that every problem is somebody elses fault. Many are also in denial that they need professional help and believe they can fix any problem themselves. Below are a few examples of denial:
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Dont: Expect Immediate Change
How do you help an alcoholic? One of the best ways is to be realistic in your expectations. Long-term Recovery is not a quick fix. Its an ongoing process for your loved one that takes time, effort and continued support from professionals and family alike. Some treatments may work for some time and then need to be changed.
If one treatment doesnt work, it doesnt mean all treatments will fail. It just means youll have to find the specific one that will work for your loved one.
Tip #: Seek Specialty Help
If you need assistance with financial issues or legal issues it may be helpful to talk to attorney providers that are covered. There are organizations that provide services on a sliding scale fee and you can often find those by calling your local Mental Health Agency or United Way. Local churches may also provide some low or no cost counseling.
How To Talk To Someone About Substance Use
Before talking to loved ones about your concerns, understand that they may not be ready to hear what you have to say they might deny that there is an issue they might find it difficult to accept your help. The best thing you can do in these situations is listen asking guiding questions to keep the conversation going when necessary, but also really allowing your loved ones to talk about whats going on in their lives. Opening up the channels of communication may help your loved ones feel less alone and start working toward acknowledging that they have a problem.
Here are some ways you can gently start a conversation with someone youre concerned about, focusing on your own observations:
- I wanted to check in with you because you havent seemed yourself lately.
- Ive noticed youve been acting differently lately, and Im wondering how youre doing.
- Ive been worried about you lately.
- Ive noticed youve been drinking a lot lately, and Im wondering how youre doing.
- Ive noticed youve been using , and Im worried about you.
Once youve started the conversation, you can begin to ask questions such as these:
- When did you first start feeling like this?
- Do you feel like youre trying to escape or forget something?
- Do you feel like your drug use/drinking is a problem?
- Do you think you could go 24 hours without using drugs/drinking? A week?
- What can I do to best support you right now?
- Have you thought about getting help?
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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 ones 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 persons 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.
A Note From Addiction Policy Forum
Substance use disorders get worse over time. The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long-term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to wait for rock bottom and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work. The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Decades of research has proven that the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomesand that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment.
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Concerned About A Friend
Drugs can be a hard subject to discuss, especially if you think your friend or relative has a problem.
Try to stay open-minded and remember that, with the right help and support, most people overcome their use before any serious harm is caused. Also, even if you do offer support, they might not change their behaviour.
You or your friend can call FRANK anytime on for confidential advice.
Why Parents Should Talk To Their Teens About Drugs
Some parents or guardians may rely on school-based educational programs that address drug use. However, substance abuse education is largely formatted from the perspective of prevention. The DARE program, introduced in the 1980s, focused on scare tactics to help kids stay away from drugs. Research showed that it did very little to prevent kids from experimenting or using habitually.
Parents, on the other hand, are a major influence on their teens. Teen drug abuse and addiction occur most often in households where parents are disengaged from their kids activities and personal lives. Transparency in addressing alcohol and drugs goes much further than school-sanctioned courses and training. Parents should be actively working to discuss, not only why drugs are dangerous, but strategies for dealing with peer pressure independently.
Here are a few reasons why parents should speak with their children about the realities of drugs prior to other school-sanctioned programs:
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Discuss Concerns When They Are Under The Influence Or Their Emotions Are Running High
Nothing meaningful or helpful can be discussed when someone is under the influence or the people involved are upset. No one thinks clearly when theyre overwhelmed by their emotions. It can feel uncomfortable to hold onto what you want to say for a later time, but waiting for the right moment to discuss serious issues is important. Otherwise, you risk using harsh language that increases hurt and shame and lessens the chances theyll respond positively.
Learn About Your Drug Addiction
Most people use drugs for pleasure or to have fun with their friends. Some of them start using drugs because they are curious about it, or they want to feel good. But over time, the addiction takes over the life and controls everything.
The worst part about drug addiction is that people cant stop on their own they always need some help from someone else. Some of them go to a rehab center for treatment some others give up and let themselves be ruined by this terrible disease.
Are you addicted to drugs? Are you going to quit drugs? You may not be aware of what you are going through. In the first few days, your body will go through withdrawal symptoms. Its important to have a doctor or someone there for support.
In many cases, it is challenging for an addict to quit alone. Thats why it is very important that they seek professional help and try different methods of treatment.
Its hard to quit drugs. Not only does your body get used to them, but you also get psychologically addicted to the effects of drugs. If you are trying to quit, there are some psychological tricks that can help you out.
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The Effects Of Drug Abuse And Addiction On Family And Friends
Witnessing someone you care about battle a substance use disorder can be extremely distressing and take a heavy toll on your own mental and emotional well-being. Whether the drug abuser is a close friend, spouse, parent, child, or other family member, its easy for their addiction to take over your life. It can pile stress upon stress, test your patience, strain your bank balance, and leave you racked by feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear, frustration, and sadness.
You may worry about where your loved one is at any given time, their risk of overdosing, or the damage theyre doing to their health, future, and home life. You may be in debt from paying their living expenses, the cost of legal troubles resulting from their drug abuse, or from failed attempts at rehab and recovery. You may also be worn down by covering for your loved one at home or work, having to shoulder the responsibilities they neglect, or being unable to devote more time to other family, friends, and interests in your life.
As despairing as you may feel, youre not alone in your struggle. A Pew Research Center survey in 2017 found that nearly half of Americans have a family member or close friend whos been addicted to drugs. Across the Western world, the abuse of prescription pain relievers and tranquillizers has skyrocketed in recent years, creating a public health crisis.
What If They Dont React Well To The Conversation
Talking about your concerns doesnt always work first time. People often feel scared or ashamed, or might deny anything is wrong at all. If someone is getting angry or defensive, try and keep things calm. You might have to end the conversation. If you do want to try and have another talk with someone later on, you might want to begin by apologising for anything that upset them before.
If someone isnt willing to talk at all, remember that its not your fault. Youâve tried to reach out and help, and you shouldnt feel guilty. They might not feel ready to talk about it now, but you may have made them more likely to open up in the future.
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Early Intervention Is Best
Intervening at an early stage is the most beneficial course of action for the addicted person. Like any illness, the condition responds best to treatment in the early stages. It is important not to simply ignore the problem until a major breaking point occurs. It is unlikely that the addict will seek help for their problem by themselves during this time, so your intervention is crucial.
In the workplace, the addictive behaviour of a colleague is often endured until they are fired or offered a redundancy package. This course of action will not help the individual, and instead they should be given the choice to access treatment in order to keep their job. The risk of long-term psychological damage, and irreversible harm to health, both increase the longer a problem is ignored. In Ireland, alcohol is implicated in over 1000 deaths per year.
Encouraging Words To Say To Someone In Recovery And After Treatment
Encouraging your loved one during recovery and after treatment is just as important as supporting their entry into treatment. Use positive phrases as your loved one continues care in ongoing programs that may include counseling, mutual-help groups, and alumni events. Some of these helpful phrases include:
- Im proud of you.
- You are doing a great job.
- Im here for you and support you.
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- I know this is hard, but you will feel better in time.
Let your loved one know that they arent alone, even after treatment.
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My Friend Took Drugs Once Will They Become An Addict
Most people only develop an addiction after regularly taking a drug. Its highly unlikely that anyone will develop an addiction after taking drugs once or twice or from drinking once or twice.
Some signs that a person is getting addicted to alcohol or drugs are:
- they take the drug very regularly or drink very regularly
- they take it despite trying to cut down or stop
- they lie about how much they take or take it in secret
- they keep taking it despite the harm it’s causing
- they drink or take drugs alone
- they do extreme things to get the drug or alcohol like stealing, getting into debt or faking symptoms to get prescription drugs
- they do less of the things they enjoy, because the drugs or alcohol are getting in the way
Remember that people who are addicted often dont think they are, or dont feel like they can admit it.
So if you think your friend has a problem and you want to help them, think about how you’re going to approach the topic and what youre going to say as you dont want to upset them.
And if they dont listen to you at first, dont be put off. Just give them some space and try again in a little while.