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.
How To Talk To Someone About Their Drug Abuse
Starting a conversation with someone about their drug addiction is never easy, but its important you come from a place of compassion and understanding. Remember, no one sets out to become an addict. Drug abuse is often a misguided attempt to cope with painful issues or mental health problems. Stress tends to fuel addictive behavior, so criticizing, demeaning, or shaming them will only push your loved one away and may even encourage them to seek further comfort in substance abuse.
Discovering someone you love has a drug problem can generate feelings of shock, fear, and anger, especially if its your child or teen whos using. These strong emotions can make communicating with a drug user even more challenging. So, its important to choose a time when youre both calm, sober, and free of distractions to talk. Offer your help and support without being judgmental.
Dont delay. You dont have to wait for your loved one to hit rock bottomto get arrested, lose their job, suffer a medical emergency, or publicly humiliate themselvesto speak out. The earlier an addiction is treated, the better.
Express your concerns honestly. Emphasize that you care for the person and are worried about their well-being. Offer specific examples of your loved ones drug-related behavior that have made you concernedand be honest about your own feelings.
Staging an intervention
Learning More About Treatment Options
The more you know about addiction and the treatment options that exist for the disease, the more help you can be to your friend or loved one that is struggling. It is fine to contact treatment professionals or centers in your area or to reach out to the Health and Human Services national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP to learn more. The more you know, the better equipped you are to support your friend or loved one.
As a friend or loved one, you can play an important role in helping someone get the support they need to overcome their substance use disorder. You should never think that you can solve the problem alone, and you should always seek out the support and guidance of a professional. Recovery from addiction is a process, not a destination. today to speak to a representative about our treatment programs.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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How Addictions Can Affect You
The strain of managing an addiction can seriously damage your work life and relationships. In the case of substance misuse , an addiction can have serious psychological and physical effects.
Some studies suggest a person’s risk of becoming addicted is partly genetic, but environmental factors, such as being around other people with addictions, are also thought to increase the risk.
Behaviours such as substance misuse can be a way of blocking out difficult issues. Unemployment and poverty can trigger addiction, along with stress and emotional or professional pressure.
Taking Care Of Yourself
Your loved ones recovery from drug addiction can be a long process and the negative impact on your own health, outlook, and well-being can multiply over time. Its important you maintain a balance in your life to avoid burnout from all the stress and frustration that comes from helping someone get clean.
Find support. Expressing what youre going through can be very cathartic, so look for support from trusted friends and family, or a peer support group for family members of drug addicts. Talking to others who are facing similar challenges can help you find comfort, reassurance, and new ways of coping.
Manage stress. The stress of witnessing someone you love battle addiction can take a heavy toll. You can reduce your stress levels by eating right, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and practicing a relaxation technique such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. Since stress levels can escalate when quitting drugs, you can even encourage your loved one to do the same.
Helplines and support
Support for sufferers of substance use disorders
In the U.S.: Call the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
Canada: Download the PDF Finding Quality Addiction Care from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.
Australia: Find support or call the Alcohol and Drug Foundation helpline at 1800 250 015.
Support for families and loved ones
Group and 12-step programs for your loved one
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Ways To Support Your Special Someone With Drug Addiction
For an addict, deciding to get help and kick the addiction is no easy feat. Luckily, studies have shown that with the additional love and support of someone close to the addict, their chances of recovery are much higher.
While each situation of addiction has its own unique sets of circumstances and factors at play, there are some general guidelines as to the best way to help someone and offer support.
Addiction Hotline Questions: Am I Addicted To Drugs
Addiction is different for each person living with the disease and can be difficult to identify. However, certain indicators are common among substance users, including the following criteria, which are used by professionals to assess if a person has a substance use disorder :2,3
- An inability to stop using the drug.
- Spending a lot more time alone than normal.
- Spending a lot of time in obtaining, using, or recovering from a drug.
- Sleeping at odd hours.
- Losing interest in their favorite activities.
- Experiencing an increased tolerance to the drug .
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- Engaging in illegal activities to obtain the drug.
These are some of the signs of drug addiction, but they are not the only ones. If you or a loved one have experienced 2 or more of these signs within the last 12 months, it may be time to seek help.
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General Signs Of Drug Addiction
- Difficulties at school, disinterest in school-related activities, and declining grades
- Poor work performance, being chronically late to work, appearing tired and disinterested in work duties, and receiving poor performance reviews
- Changes in physical appearance, such as wearing inappropriate or dirty clothing and a lack of interest in grooming
- Altered behavior, such as an increased desire for privacy
- Drastic changes in relationships
- A noticeable lack of energy when performing daily activities
- Spending more money than usual or requesting to borrow money
- Issues with financial management, such as not paying bills on time
- Changes in appetite, such as a decreased appetite and associated weight loss
- Bloodshot eyes, poor skin tone, and appearing tired or run down
- Defensiveness when asked about substance use
If you or your loved one are exhibiting signs of addiction but you dont know where to turn, American Addiction Centers can help. Our fully licensed team of medical providers and network of credentialed treatment facilities have helped thousands of people get back on their feet and lead a life in recovery. We offer best-in-class care for substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorders, treating the whole patient and setting them up for a lifetime of success. Take the next step by contacting us today.
What To Call Someone Who Uses Heroin
- Boston University School of Medicine
- A first-of-its-kind study has found that people entering treatment for heroin use most often called themselves ‘addicts,’ but preferred that others called them ‘people who use drugs.’
A first-ever study to ask people who use heroin what they want to be called finds “people first” language often best, and language suggesting misuse or dependence generally worst.
In the ongoing opioid crisis, many researchers and clinicians now use “person first” terms such as “person with substance use disorder” instead of loaded labels like “addict,” but little research has focused on the language preferences of this population. Now, a first-of-its-kind study by researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Medical School , published in the journal Addiction, has found that people entering treatment for heroin use most often called themselves “addicts,” but preferred that others called them “people who use drugs.”
“In the end, researchers, clinicians, and families should not automatically use the same terms that people who use heroin call themselves, but instead ask about preferences,” says senior study author Dr. Michael Stein, professor and chair of health law, policy & management at BUSPH. “Of course, most people just want to be called by their name.”
Materials provided by Boston University School of Medicine. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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Broaching The Subject: How To Talk To An Addict About Getting Help
All of this is fine for someone who knows they have a problem and are ready to go into rehab. But what about that coworker, friend or relative who is clearly suffering and needs help? How to talk to an addict about getting help is different than talking to someone who is leaving or returning from rehab.
How to talk to an addict about getting help depends on several factors. First, its best if you wait until that person is sober. Drugs and alcohol change how the brain processes information. It can be hard for someone to truly hear what you have to say when their mind is clouded with substances. Wait until the person is sober before broaching the subject.
You may want to wait until the day after some incident has happened to bring up the topic of addiction. For example, if the person went on an extreme drinking binge and they feel sorry for their behavior the next day, thats a good time to bring up their behavior in the context of addiction and getting help. Emotionally, they are more receptive to what you have to say because they already feel badly about what they did. They are also sober now and clear-headed enough to understand your concern.
Keep the conversation focused on the following topics:
Draw A Line At Their Unacceptable Behaviors And Compromises You Are Unwilling To Make
Cutting someone slack is not doing them any favors when they are needing to turn their bad habits around. Its not going to be an easy road to transformation, but its going to be even harder if those bad habits are still getting supporthowever indirect or unintentional that support might be. Stay honest about what youre unwilling to tolerate, and commit to those boundaries. Once your loved one is in treatment, you will have support for these positive boundaries on various levels through family programming and new habit building.
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Why Do People With Substance Use Disorder Need More And More Drugs Over Time
People feel intoxicated after using drugs of abuse. Over time, the brain is changed by drugs of abuse. The brain becomes desensitized to the drug of abuse so that more of the drug must be used to produce the same effect.
As the person consumes more, drugs start to take over the persons life. One may stop enjoying other aspects of life. For many people, social, family and work obligations fall to the side. The person with SUD starts to feel like somethings wrong if he or she isnt under the influence of the substance. They may become consumed with the need to recapture that original feeling.
You Cant Fix The Problem Directly
Unless you are a licensed mental health professional, you should never try to fix your friend or loved ones substance use problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , addictions are complex and chronic diseases that require medical intervention to overcome. You wouldnt try to cure a persons cancer or diabetes, and you shouldnt hope to cure their addiction either. The safety of your friend is not the only reason this is important, however, the potential guilt that can overcome you if you fail in getting them better can be hard to cope with. No matter what happens, you are never responsible for the outcome and with a disease like addiction that impacts so many parts of our lives, that is important to understand.
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What Happens To The Brain When A Person Takes Drugs
Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuit,” causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.
As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drugan effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.
Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:
Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.
What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you or a loved one is experiencing substance use disorder, ask your healthcare provider:
- How can I stop taking drugs?
- What is the best treatment plan for me?
- How long will the withdrawal symptoms last?
- How long does therapy take?
- What can I do to prevent a relapse?
- What community resources can help me during my recovery?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Substance abuse, or substance use disorder, is a brain disease. Drugs affect your brain, including your decision-making ability. These changes make it hard to stop taking drugs, even if you want to. If you or a loved one has a substance use disorder, talk to a healthcare provider. A trained provider can help guide you to the treatment you need. Usually, a combination of medication and ongoing therapy helps people recover from addiction and get back to their lives.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/03/2020.
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Support The Process Of Change
If you have a friend or loved one with an addiction, let them know you are willing to support them, for example, by coming with them to family or couples counseling. You can even help them take the first stepwhether it’s bringing them to a doctor’s appointment or a support group meeting.
They’ll likely feel encouraged by the fact that you are making changes in your own life to help them with their addiction.
Using Despite Negative Consequences
Someone with a weed addiction may realize that their drug use is affecting them physically, mentally, and emotionally. Studies have found that some of these consequences include:
- Impaired memory
- Inability to fulfill work commitments
- Financial instability
Despite the negative influence their addiction has on their life, however, someone with cannabis use disorder will continue to use marijuana.
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The Inability To Abstain
Research has shown that prolonged drug use causes a chemical change in the brain of the addict that alters the brain’s reward system that prompts compulsive drug seeking in the face of growing negative consequences.
This state of addiction, when the activity continues in spite of negative consequences and despite the fact it is no longer rewarding, is termed by addiction experts the “pathological pursuit of rewards.” It is the result of chemical changes in the reward circuitry of the brain.
Get Opioid Addiction Help Today
Theres never a perfect time to seek treatment for yourself or a loved one, but you can always get started today. Drug detox for opioid addiction is the first step to achieving a stable lifestyle of sobriety.
At Briarwood Detox Center, we provide medically assisted drug and alcohol detox for all addictive substances. We create individualized detox programs for each client to address the unique physical, emotional and psychological needs of the person. In providing this personalized approach, we are able to make changes to the detox protocol as necessary and ensure that the client receives the highest-quality treatment possible.
If you or a loved one is addicted to opioid drugs, the addiction treatment professionals at Briarwood Detox Center can help. Please call our admissions team today to learn more about our detox programs and detox centers in Houston and Austin, Texas.
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