Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
How can I tell if I am an enabler?
"Enabling is a behavior often seen in the relationships of individuals struggling with addiction. An enabler, often without realizing it, may protect the individual with addiction from the consequences of their behavior, thus indirectly encouraging continued substance use. If you're unsure whether you might be enabling someone's addiction, consider the following signs:
- Rescuing: If you frequently find yourself covering up or making excuses for the individual's substance use or its consequences - like calling in sick to their job for them, paying their bills, or lying to others to conceal their addiction - this could be enabling.
- Denying: If you downplay the severity of their addiction, dismiss the negative impact it has, or avoid discussing it entirely, you may be enabling.
- Avoiding Conflict: If you consistently avoid confrontations or difficult conversations about their substance use out of fear it may cause tension or lead them to use more, this can be a form of enabling.
- Taking on Their Responsibilities: If you've taken on their duties - like household chores, parenting responsibilities, or work commitments - to compensate for their inability or unwillingness to fulfill them due to their addiction, you could be enabling.
- Providing Financial Support: If you're frequently giving them money, which they could be using to support their addiction, or bailing them out of financial problems caused by their substance use, this is often a clear sign of enabling.
- Ignoring Damaging Behaviors: If you tend to overlook or dismiss destructive or harmful behaviors associated with their addiction, you may be enabling.
How can I help a loved one with their addiction to drugs?
Helping a loved one who's struggling with drug addiction can be a complex task that requires compassion, patience, and understanding. Here are several steps you can take:
- Educate Yourself: Learn about addiction and the specific substance(s) your loved one is using. Understanding the nature of addiction, its effects on the brain and behavior, and the process of recovery can make you a more effective source of support.
- Communicate: Open a dialogue with your loved one about their addiction. Make sure to approach them with empathy, expressing your concerns without judgment or blame. Use "I" statements to convey how their behavior is affecting you and others.
- Encourage Treatment: Encourage your loved one to seek professional help. This could involve a variety of treatments, such as detoxification, therapy (individual or group), medications, or residential treatment programs. Each person's pathway to recovery will be unique, so it's important to explore different options to find what may work best for them.
- Support, Don't Enable: There's a fine line between supporting a loved one and enabling their drug use. It's important to assist them in their recovery process, but refrain from protecting them from the negative consequences of their addiction. This might involve setting boundaries for their behavior.
- Take Care of Yourself: Supporting a loved one through addiction can be emotionally challenging. Be sure to take care of your own physical and mental health as well. Seek support from others, such as friends, family, or support groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, which are specifically designed for those affected by a loved one's substance use.
- Stay Patient: Recovery is a long-term process that often involves setbacks. Patience, perseverance, and hope are key during this journey. Celebrate small victories and remember that progress may be slow, but it is still progress.
- Involve Professionals: If your loved one is resistant to seeking help, consider a professionally facilitated intervention. An interventionist can guide you and your family through the process of conveying your concerns and the need for treatment in a structured setting.
How long do drug withdrawal symptoms last?
The duration of drug withdrawal symptoms can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of substance used, the duration of use, the degree of dependence, individual metabolism and health status, and whether one quits cold turkey or with medical assistance.
Generally, withdrawal symptoms can be divided into acute and post-acute phases:
Acute Withdrawal: This is the initial phase of withdrawal, where physical symptoms are typically the most severe. Depending on the substance, acute withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours to a few days after the last use and can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. For example, alcohol withdrawal symptoms often start within 8 hours of the last drink and can last up to a few days or weeks, while opioid withdrawal symptoms usually start within 12-30 hours of the last dose and can last approximately a week.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS): Some individuals may experience a second phase of withdrawal known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. PAWS refers to a group of symptoms that occur after the acute withdrawal phase, predominantly psychological, such as anxiety, irritability, mood swings, depression, and sleep disturbances. PAWS can last from a few weeks to a year or more after the cessation of substance use.
It's important to remember that withdrawal can be dangerous and even life-threatening in some cases, especially when it comes to substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines. Therefore, withdrawal should always be done under medical supervision. The support and treatment offered by medical professionals during detoxification can also help to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and make the process safer and more comfortable.