What If We Are Both Addicts
In some cases, you and your loved one may both struggle with codependency, but also have your own issues with substance use. You may be aware of the need for getting your own treatment for a substance use disorder. There are some couples who go to treatment together, and it is possible to find rehab centers that will admit both of you at the same time to get addiction help.
Understanding Drug Use And Addiction Drugfacts
Many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.
Find Support For Yourself
Being in a relationship with a person who has a substance use disorder is often stressful. It’s important that you accept that what you are going through is difficult and seek support. There are many resources that exist for this purpose.
Consider joining a support group, for instance, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Children and teens can get support from Alateen. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a variety of resources designed to provide insight and support for families of addicts.
It’s also essential to develop stress management strategies. This is an important step in helping you help your loved one. These strategies will help you cope with the stressors you will likely encounter when helping a friend or family member seek and receive help with an addiction.
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How To Help Someone Understand They Need Help
Friends and family members may feel that they constantly express concerns about a loved ones substance use but never see any changes. You may have reached this point after weeks or months of giving lectures, making threats, ignoring behaviors, accepting promises of change, giving second chances, or imposing consequences.
Experts recommend developing and repeating a consistent, positive message: We care about you and we want you to get help. Define substance use as a problem for you and others who care about the person. Avoid blaming, arguing, and reproaching, and expect denial, distortion, avoidance, rationalization, and intellectualization of the problem.
Perhaps a friend, another family member, doctor, clergy, boss, co-worker, or other significant person in their life might be able to have an effective discussion. Or maybe the person with the substance use disorder would respond to activities you can do together, such as reviewing brochures or videos, meeting with a professional, or going to a self-help SMART Recovery or Twelve Step meeting.
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.
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Connect With Understanding Peers
Its not always easy to live with or support someone who has an addiction. As research points out, addiction in a close relative can serve as a stressful life situation that persists for years, and that long-term dysfunction can make it hard for families to communicate clearly. There can be a block of mistrust between every member of a family touched by the addiction.
Connecting with peers can help, particularly if families use a well-established, trusted program like Al-Anon or Alateen. The goal of these programs is to provide help for families of those living with addiction. They also provide a safe, nonjudgmental space where family members can learn, discuss and cope with an addiction unfolding in their midst.
People go to meetings like this for all sorts of reasons, but one survey found that many participants were drawn to meetings in hopes of finding help with:
- Finding a better quality of life
- Having fewer problems with the addicted person
- Lowering levels of stress
- Improving psychological health
These are lofty goals, but meetings really can help. By going to a meeting and listening to other family members, feelings of isolation and doubt may begin to fade. Families may also get the skills they need to better handle the interpersonal problems theyre facing. These meetings can help families learn how to deal with a loved ones addiction.
Start Encouraging Rehab Drug Treatment
Your family needs to address the importance of drug treatment. You may turn to a facility, like Peace Valley Recovery, to discuss an intervention or treatment program that could help your loved one. When the time is right, talking to your loved one about how their drug dependence has affected your lives will encourage them to take the right step toward rehab treatment.
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How Can I Tell If My Friend Is Addicted To Drugs
Their behaviour, their physical appearance, and certain stuff in their environment can provide clues as to whether your friend might be addicted to drugs.
- sudden changes in behaviour or mood swings
- withdrawal from family members and old friendship groups
- carelessness about personal grooming
- loss of interest in hobbies, sports or other favourite activities
- neglect of responsibilities.
- red, glassy or bloodshot eyes, or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal
- sniffing or a runny nose
- frequent nosebleeds
- shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination
- sudden weight loss or weight gain.
The following items could also be a sign of addiction:
- spoons and syringes
- small, resealable baggies that could be used to store drugs
- pipes, plastic bottles, or cans that have been pierced or tampered with
- burnt foil
- stuff missing, such as money, valuables or prescription drugs.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Once you start helping, dont be the type to preach and lecture the addict all the time. In most cases, theyll block it out and wont hear what you have to say. The right way how to support someone is to make them accountable to expectations.
Offer them help if they want to get the right treatment needed to get out of their addiction. Dont expect them to fulfill all their promises. They wont have the right mindset while theyre affected by their illness.
Dont be mad at them or show outward pity. This will only prolong the process of treatment for them. If they need help, make sure to get in touch with institutions that can help. Find out how they can assess your loved one and refer them to the right people for treatment.
There are also Legal Aid programs you can connect with. Check if there are any in your area and see if your loved one has the right qualifications. At the very least, these people can help direct you to someone who can help.
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Dont Let Your Kids Kill You: A Guide For Parents Of Drug And Alcohol Addicted Children
This book is very relatable to intervention professionals who have difficulty helping parents focus on themselves and not their childs substance use problem. As with almost every family we encounter during the intervention process, they are confused and at odds. Many parents are headed for divorce and sleeping in separate beds due to letting their children divide them. I believe this book does a great job of helping the parents of children using drugs or alcohol understand that it is not OK not to light themselves on fire to keep their children warm.
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.
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Do: Take Care Of Yourself
Indulging in self-care is not selfish, especially when youre helping someone dealing with addiction. You cannot let the addiction of your loved one derail your own life. Continue with healthy activities, like hobbies and social outings, and take care to look after yourself. Therapy or counseling is part of that process, but indulging in activities that arent centered around your loved one is necessary. Determine what it is that you need to keep yourself well and indulge in it.
How To Help A Loved One Struggling With Addiction
The best ways to help a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol may seem counterintuitive, especially for people who struggle with codependent relationships. Some of these methods may seem harsh, but they come from a loving approach with the ultimate goal to help the person overcome their addiction and to help all parties heal. Basic steps are outlined below.
- Remember that addiction is not a choice or a moral failing it is a disease of the brain
- Addiction is ultimately a condition that the individual must learn to manage no one can take the fight on for the addict.
- Set boundaries and stand by them.
- Encourage the individual to seek help this may include finding treatment resources for them.
- Find a therapist who specializes in addiction counseling and get help. Loved ones of addicts need support too.
- Set an example for healthy living by giving up recreational drug and alcohol use.
- Be supportive, but do not cover for problems created by substance abuse. The person struggling needs to deal with the consequences of their addiction.
- Be optimistic. A person struggling with drug or alcohol abuse will likely eventually seek help due to ongoing encouragement to do so. If they relapse, it is not a sign of failure relapse is often part of the overall recovery process.
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Schedule Private Therapy Sessions
While lifestyle alterations can be a big help for families in crisis, addictions can cause deep wounds that often benefit from seeking professional help. Research has found that families of addicted people experience increased levels of depression and anxiety. Caregivers can feel worn out from everything theyre asked to do for their family member, and they may not have access to healthy coping skills. Siblings or children can feel forgotten or feel like they have to do better to make up for the addiction, leading to self-esteem issues.
Theres no judgment or blame here a private therapy session is a safe place for stressed family members to talk openly and work through issues.
Private sessions typically follow a skills-based format, in which caregivers learn more about how to deal with destructive thoughts and habits developed during years of addictive behavior. They might learn to meditate to handle stress, or they might work on assertiveness skills. They might do group work involving anger management, or they might learn how to let go of codependent behaviors so they wont feel responsible for the poor choices of others.
It takes time to go to personal therapy sessions, and theres often homework to complete between sessions. However, this time comes with a number of very real benefits. Family members who spend their time in these sessions may get the help they need in order to help others, and they may find the strength and resolve thats been missing until now.
Wanting To Recover But Feeling Stuck
Most people with addiction struggle with a double life. You try to keep your addiction hidden from most people, most of the time, even when it is quite obvious to those around you.
You have a hard time admitting to yourself that you are a person with addiction because no matter how fleeting, it gives you that brief moment when everything feels okay. You want to free yourself from your addiction and not end up back where you started, with all the losses you have built up while you have been struggling.
Recovery is possible for every person with addiction. But facing the problems that caused the addiction in the first place is scary.
It’s difficult to cope with the deep dissatisfaction with your life and to take responsibility for how your behavior affects other people. It means learning how to experience a gentler sense of pleasure in the small things in life and coping with the many challenges and imperfections of life, without retreating back into your addiction. Which means accepting being human, just like everyone else.
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What If The Person Doesnt Want Help For Drugs Or Alcohol
Ultimately, its the persons decision whether to seek professional help. Many people who misuse drugs or alcohol find it hard to ask for help at first, but may want to reach out later on. Be careful not to nag the person, since this might discourage them from opening up in the future.
Clearly state any behaviours you expect, or wont tolerate, from the person. You might not accept drug use in your home, for example.
Encourage the person to use safely to minimise the risk of harming themselves for example, through needle and syringe programs or opioid replacement programs.
Its important to know that you cant force the person to stop using drugs or alcohol. Only they can choose to change.
Codependency Keeps The Addict Sick
The issue of enabling is a symptom of a bigger issue: codependency. Codependency is the term used to describe the highly dependent relationship between two people. The hallmark of codependency is when the actions of one person enable, support, or perpetuate the destructive, irresponsible behavior of the other.
At first, codependency masquerades as being helpful. No one wants to see their loved one in pain. Your actions are intended to help your loved one to avoid hurting themselves or others. This could be something like allowing your adult child to live in your home as they try to stop using substances. Maybe you cover for your inebriated spouse when their employer calls.
Codependency sets in as these behaviors shift from being a one-off or occasional thing into being the norm. The addict develops the expectation that you will cover for or save them whenever they get into a bad situation, and you step up to the plate every time.
You might think youre helping them by keeping them from falling on their face. The truth is youre only enabling their behavior and exacerbating the issue. They have no reason to stop doing what theyre doing because they know you will step in to take care of the problem every time something goes wrong.
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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.
Prepare Meals And Eat Them As A Family
In todays modern, chaotic world, its all too easy to eat separately. One partner grabs a burger on the way home, the other snacks on a salad at work and the kids heat up ready-made foods they can find in the freezer.
A family meal allows everyone to reconnect at the end of a day that may have been stressful, lonely or upsetting. Each meal helps build upon the work done in family therapy, and the ritual of eating together can promote a sense of common ground and togetherness.
The activity doesnt have to stop at the table, either. Spending time making the meal together or cleaning up afterward can increase the benefits. Even one meal together per week can have a significant impact.
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