Almost every single person in the United States has had a family member, friend or loved one who has struggled with addiction. Whether it be drugs or alcohol, or a combination of both, substance abuse hits the hardest for those closest to you: your family members and peers. Luckily science is rapidly discovering new techniques to treat a variety of substance abuse and mental health issues. Neuroscience is exponentially expanding our understanding of addiction, the causes of substance abuse and the best forms of evidence-based treatments that actually have verifiable success rates. Your loved one’s addiction is a disease, and it is treatable. Substance abuse rehabilitation treatment could very well be the most important health care decision you or your loved one makes in their lifetime.
The most important part of the process is to ask for help.
Many families who have a member struggling with addiction live in a cloud of shame. Because the addiction is embarrassing to everyone in the family, this is sadly why most people don’t ask for help. They think the addiction is somehow detrimental to their social standing with friends, family and their community. Even if they aren’t the one abusing drugs or alcohol there is a perceived stigma attached to their loved one’s abuse. If this is the case for you, let us reassure you that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Drug and alcohol abuse knows no bounds, and if help isn’t sought in time, it could lead to the break up of a marriage, jail sentences, emergency room visits or worst of all, the death of your loved one.
If you suspect a friend or family member is battling addiction, reach out to them in a supportive, compassionate and caring manner.
Do not place judgment or blame at their doorstep, as this will make them less likely to take into account the support you are offering them. Build off of a positive social interaction with the person you want to seek help. Make them feel good, and they are more likely to continue wanting to feel good. They will associate that good feeling with your offer for help. Many therapists recommend an intervention. These are great tools to approach an addicts’ substance abuse, but sometimes they can backfire if the person feels attacked or judged. Just remember to tread lightly by starting small. Offering a positive social interaction with your family member will show them that you are only there to help and not to judge. Think of how the person would feel if your words were coming at you. Sometimes an addict can be unpredictable, and the success of your desire to help them will vary depending on their mood. If this is the case, let it go for the time being, they may not like the idea of seeking rehabilitation for their substance abuse, but at least you are planting a seed in their mind. Setting boundaries is also important for your own personal health and safety. Let them know you care about them, but also will have boundaries on your relationship if they continue to abuse alcohol or drugs. Ultimately you will want to get them to a point where they want to seek treatment for themselves.
Addiction treatment will work best when the addict accepts it as their personal responsibility to get sober.
Once they enter a drug or alcohol rehab facility, continue your support and encouragement. Sometimes after the initial detox from substance abuse is when they will need you the most. Let them know you care by visiting them (if it’s allowed) and sending them care-packages, family photos and notes of encouragement.
If you are personally struggling with drug or alcohol addiction yourself, the best motivator to seek help could be your family, friends and loved ones. Get clean for them. Even if you believe nothing can help you, think of how your children, husband or wife would feel if you someday died from a drug overdose. Who would be there to comfort them? Who would be there to provide for them? Who would watch them grow from their mistakes and help them celebrate their successes? All of us here at Connection 2 Recovery hope it will be YOU. All you have to do is take the first step and ask for help.