The disease of addiction changes people. Abusing alcohol and other drugs has a profound impact on the brain. Addiction can make a person we’ve known for years act like someone we don’t know. People with the disease often say and do things that inflict emotional trauma on the people that love them.
Addiction ruins relationships, but families are vital resources for people who are addicted. Having supportive relationships is one of the four pillars of recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t equipped to help someone with an addiction. They may have good intentions, but many people enable or stigmatize substance abuse.
Families tend to focus their support on the person with the addiction. They often forget to support one another. Friends and family members often need counseling, therapy and peer support to learn how to cope with emotional problems caused by someone else’s addiction.
Don’t try to help someone with an addiction on your own. Substance use disorder, the medical term for addiction, is a chronic disease. You wouldn’t try to treat other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, without help.
You would want to learn as much as you can about the illness and urge your loved one to seek professional treatment. After the person visits the doctor, you’d encourage him or her to make healthy lifestyle changes. Those are the same steps you should take to help someone with an addiction.
Addiction is a misunderstood disease. Some people are capable of controlling how much alcohol or drugs they consume. But others are unable to stop. They possess a variety of risk factors that lead to the development of a serious brain disease.
People with addiction may have made a choice to try alcohol or other drugs, but they don’t choose to continue to use. The substances cause physical changes to their brain that make quitting nearly impossible.
Learning more about drug abuse, addiction and the treatment options available to your loved one will prepare you to tackle the problem as effectively as possible.
One of the largest barriers to treatment for addiction is stigma. The disease has been associated with shame and guilt. In the past, families tried to conceal a loved one’s addiction. People with the disease have sought isolation to avoid embarrassment.
Stigma hurts people with addiction and their family members. It can cause unnecessary stress and sadness. It can lead to misunderstandings and poor communication. When family members avoid and actively combat stigma, they’re better able to support one another.
Supporting a loved one with an addiction is complicated. Family members have to constantly think about whether they’re enabling or helping. People who enable allow the person to take advantage of their kindness. They provide an environment that condones substance abuse because they’re unwilling to provide tough love.
Helping someone with an addiction involves setting boundaries, enforcing rules and providing love. You can help your loved one find support group meetings or an accredited rehab center. You can help the person practice coping techniques and stress-relief skills. But you shouldn’t let your loved one take advantage of you.
We can help find the treatment they need.
Friends, family members and self-help groups can support people who want to recover from addiction. But they can’t treat the disease.
Treatment for addiction comprises a range of therapeutic experiences that help the brain relearn how to function without alcohol and other drugs. It includes supervised detox, a necessary step to safely overcome withdrawal.
You can start searching for rehab facilities by asking your primary care physician for a recommendation. You can also search online or call an addiction hotline. Insurance providers can also provide a list of facilities that are covered by your plan.
Finding a rehab center is half the battle. Convincing someone to seek treatment for addiction may take patience and dedication. Every person’s reasons for avoiding rehab are different. However, families can encourage their loved ones to seek help.
For example, children can convince parents to go to rehab by explaining how drug use has affected their lives. Other loved ones can point out financial problems or legal issues caused by substance abuse.
An intervention isn’t a dramatic or scary experience. It’s a compassionate and healthy conversation. After a properly conducted intervention, most people choose to seek treatment.
Certified interventionists are trained facilitators. They help families communicate effectively while attempting to convince a loved one to get professional help. They’re also knowledgeable and experienced, and they add credibility to the conversation.
Helping a loved one find treatment and rebuild his or her life can be a rewarding experience. It can also be frustrating and exhausting.
Many people affected by someone else’s addiction seek professional counseling. Others join support groups composed of people who have had similar experiences.
Support Groups for People Affected by a Friend or Loved One’s Addiction:
Most support groups follow steps similar to the 12 Steps invented by Alcoholics Anonymous. Other informal support groups also exist. Sometimes it takes a few meetings to find the right support group for you.
Addiction is a chronic disease. That means it’s long-lasting and can be reoccurring. Many people in recovery from addiction relapse. Families shouldn’t feel disappointed or frustrated after a relapse. With hard work, faith and love, people with addiction and their family members can recover from the consequences of the disease.