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Recognizing a Loved One's Addiction

When your loved one begins using alcohol, drugs, or other substances in order to feel good, it may not seem like much of an issue, especially if they are able to manage their use and their daily lives. But over time, as the individual becomes addicted to the substance, it can be much harder to stand by as their friend, spouse, or family member and pretend that it is no longer a problem.

It is important to be able to recognize addiction in a loved one, no matter what type of drug they are using, and to be able to create the kind of support and environment that is conducive to their recovery. And, at the same time, you can also work on healing yourself.

How Do I Know My Loved One is an Addict?

Whether the addict in your life is your spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend, it is important that you are concerned about their wellbeing and that you want to help them make a change for the better. If your loved one has become addicted to a substance, you will likely begin to notice certain signs and symptoms they didn't exhibit before. These can include:

  • Constant confusion
  • Mood swings
  • Financial problems (always being without money, constantly asking you for money, etc.)
  • Never paying back debts
  • Problems at work or school
  • Disinterest in the things and activities that used to matter to them
  • Hostility toward those who bring up their drug abuse
  • Secretive behavior
  • Legal problems
  • No longer caring about their physical appearance or hygiene
  • Violent or hostile outbursts
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Making excuses to use drugs
  • Using drugs even when alone

Different substances cause different behaviors and physical side effects when a person becomes Loved One's Addictionaddicted to them or abuses them often, but the signs above often occur across the board with all different addiction syndromes. When you begin to notice several of these issues in the behavior and lifestyle of your loved one––especially if they have never exhibited them before––it is very likely that they have become an addict and will require professional treatment. We can help you find a treatment program suitable for your loved one; call us today. 

Why Does an Addict Need Professional Treatment?

Addiction isn’t something that can be overcome through just sheer force of will. It is often much stronger than the will of the individual, especially because substances of abuse change the way the brain works in order to create compulsive and uncontrollable drug use. Addicts need help in order to overcome the pull of their addictions and the side effects they cause. There are a number of reasons why an addict cannot just snap out of it or stop abusing drugs without the help of rehabilitation treatments.

  • Addiction becomes more likely when a person has certain risk factors that predispose them toward the issue. For example, a person who has a history of addiction in their families or someone who is still in their developmental, adolescent stage is often more likely to become an addict than someone who does not share these traits. The more factors someone has, the higher their risk of addiction is and the more serious the issue often becomes. And in many cases, a person cannot help these factors, as many of them are biological and developmental.
  • Addicts often have another issue in their lives that helps to fuel their addiction. People who become dependent on compulsive drug use are twice as likely to suffer from a mental illness, as individuals suffering from these issues often use drugs to cope with them. A person in this situation will require treatment both for their addiction and their mental health issues in order to quit.
  • Relapse is common. Even if someone is strong in their desire to quit abusing drugs, relapse still occurs as often as it does with other chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
  • Withdrawal symptoms are often extremely painful, uncomfortable, or psychologically taxing. They are usually very likely to lead a person to relapse, especially if the individual is not treated for them. In addition, a person will suffer if they are not treated for the symptoms, even if they do get through withdrawal without relapsing. This can make the entire process more traumatic, which is why most rehab centers use medications to treat the symptoms of withdrawal itself.
  • Perhaps the most problematic reason why addicts require professional treatment is that addiction changes a person's brain functions. The brain will still crave the drug even during recovery, causing many addicts to give in even if they know it is bad for them. Once this change occurs in the brain, it is very difficult to reverse and cannot usually be done merely through resolve.

Recovering from an addiction is a struggle, and people shouldn’t be forced to do it without any kind of professional help. Attending rehabilitation treatment is the safest road for an addict who is attempting to recover, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Family and friends can play critical roles in motivating individuals with drug problems to enter and stay in treatment.”

How Do I Help My Loved One Realize It's Time to Attend Addiction Rehab?

There are a number of things you can do to help ensure that your loved one attends treatment. Because your input will be extremely important to their overall recovery and to the likelihood that they will attend the treatment program they need, it is important to be involved in your loved one’s recovery from start to finish.

  • Find a treatment program that will be suitable for the individual. It can be a daunting task to find the right program for your loved one, but you can call us. We will help you find a facility that suits your loved one’s needs and answer any questions you may have about rehab and addiction.
  • Stage an intervention. Your loved one needs to know you aren’t the only one who feels this way about their substance abuse. By staging an intervention with the people closest to them, you can create a support network as well as a group large enough to help your loved one understand the seriousness of their actions and their need to seek professional help.
    • Hire an interventionist. This individual can give you tips on how to talk to your loved one and even steer the meeting so it doesn’t go in a problematic direction.
    • When you are choosing people to participate in the intervention, make sure to only ask those who can take it seriously but who can also guard themselves from becoming too emotional.
    • Ask everyone to write down what they would like to say to the addicted individual beforehand.
    • Practice the intervention before you participate in it.
  • Be honest but kind. This is not the time to air all your most painful and frustrated feelings. Instead, try to use “I” statements so as not to lay blame on your loved one and to remind them that this comes from your concern and love for them.
  • Give your loved one boundaries. It is important to let the individual know that you expect them to attend treatment and that interactions between you two will change if they choose not to. Talk to the other individuals in your intervention and decide together what the consequences will be if your loved one refuses treatment. And make sure there are consequences you are willing to stick to.
  • When your loved one does decide to attend treatment, continue your support of them. It is extremely necessary that you do not end your support after they agree to seek treatment. They will need your help and love their entire time they are going through recovery, and showing you are there for them will make them more likely to stay in treatment and to have a stronger recovery.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope” is one of the four major dimension that support a life in recovery. Hope often comes from the loved ones of the addict, especially in the beginning where the individual often struggles the most with the issues associated with ending long-term drug abuse. Over time, though, your loved one will be able to make a change that will be better for them and everyone in their life––including you.

How Can I Help Myself?

It isn’t easy to share your life with an addict; even being friends with someone who is struggling with this issue can take a toll. This is why you will need to attend your own type of treatment and begin to make changes for yourself as well.

  • There are many support groups that offer help to loved one’s of addicts. From Al-Anon and Nar-Anon to other groups like them, programs like these are designed to allow family members and friends of addicts to discuss their own struggles, to connect with one another over these issues, and to begin making changes that will be beneficial both to their loved ones and to themselves.
  • Attending behavioral therapy can also be helpful. Family and couples therapy sessions are especially beneficial for individuals who are extremely close to addicts in recovery. These sessions can teach both individuals how to better support and care for one another and how to create a stronger relationship between the two of them.
  • Decide what you are capable of doing when it comes to your loved one. Yes, they will absolutely need you during this difficult time, but it is important to understand that your needs matter too and that you only have the ability to do so much for someone else. Ask yourself what you can do to help your loved one without harming yourself and ensure that you follow these rules you create so you can both begin to heal.

Help Your Loved One Find the Treatment They Need

Addiction is extremely difficult to overcome alone, and it is wonderful that you are willing to support your loved one as they attempt to navigate this journey. The next step is helping them find treatment, which with we can help. Call us to find rehab centers in your area as well as to receive advice on how to talk to your loved one about their addiction, how to overcome your own issues with it, and how to create a better life for the both of you.

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