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Article Summary

Understanding A Loved One's Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are among the leading causes of ill-health and death in the United States. If you have a loved one struggling with this condition, it is imperative that you learn how to address it.

However, there is a high chance that you might have been struggling with understanding what they are going through and trying to get them the help that will lead them down the road to full sobriety.

You might already have researched various treatment programs and tried to learn how to approach them about the issues that they are dealing with. You may also have considered hosting an intervention.

Even so, there are some things that you might also have been doing that have been enabling their behavior. As a result, it may be increasingly become difficult for you to get them to escape addiction and substance abuse. Read on to learn more:

Understanding Addiction

Addiction, also known as a substance use disorder, is a chronic condition of the brain. It is characterized by consistent and unrelenting abuse of alcohol and drugs even in the face of the various negative consequences linked with these substances.

If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, it is important that you are aware of all the symptoms of the condition. You should also learn as much as you can so that may be able to help them get the assistance that they need to overcome their substance use disorder.

Research studies have linked substance abuse and mental health disorders as well as various medical conditions. This is one of the reasons most people who are addicted also struggle with both chronic and short term issues with their health.

Your loved one might also have been causing others to struggle and suffer - including their friends, children, parents, and spouse or partner. Irrespective of how you are related to them, it is important that you find ways to get them the help that they need.

It is also important that you understand the various symptoms of addiction. This way, you will be able to collect hard evidence that you can use when you talk to your loved one about their substance abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

While struggling with addiction, your loved one will start displaying some, most, or all of the symptoms listed below. These symptoms are a good sign that they have been abusing drugs and alcohol:

  • Abandoning the hobbies and activities they used to enjoy so that they can abuse drugs
  • Appearing intoxicated more often than they used to
  • Appearing tired or unwell
  • Attending fewer social events where they know they won't be able to drink alcohol or use drugs
  • Attending only those social events where they know that alcohol and drugs will be available
  • Becoming intoxicated before a social event
  • Becoming sad, or angry, or even lashing out when you question them about their drug taking
  • Being lethargic
  • Continuing to take drugs in spite of the psychological and physical problems that these substances cause
  • Continuing to use drugs in spite of the social and interpersonal problems that they are struggling with
  • Developing problems at school or work
  • Developing problems with memory and cognition
  • Dropping out of the courses they were taking at school
  • Experiencing strong cravings for the substance they are addicted to
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms any time they do not use their preferred drugs
  • Failing to be honest about how much alcohol they drink or drugs they use
  • Failing to cut down or quit their substance use.
  • Losing their job
  • Lying about their substance abuse
  • Neglected appearance
  • Neglecting their obligations at home, work, or school so that they can continue using drugs
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sleeping during irregular hours
  • Sleeping more
  • Spending a great deal of time, money, and other resources looking for, acquiring, using, and recovering from using drugs
  • Stealing money and other valuables so that they can afford their growing drug habit
  • Taking drugs in higher doses or more frequently so that they can experience the effects they desire
  • Taking more drugs than they originally intended
  • Using drugs and drinking alcohol even in dangerous situations, like when they are driving a car

Influence and Control

If your loved one is addicted, you might try to force them to go to an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center so that they can get the help they need to get started on the road to recovery.

However, even if you succeed in convincing them that the time has come for rehab, they might end up failing. This is because addiction is a serious and chronic condition - and it is not a choice that they would be able to control. It is also a compulsion, meaning that they are not able to stop taking alcohol and drugs unless they get help.

Further, the repetitive reinforcement of cravings often rewires their brain in such a way that they are no longer able to control how much of their preferred substances they use at any given time.

Trying to protect your loved one from the consequences of their actions or blaming them is not going to help them in any way. This is because they do not have any control over their substance abuse.

However, you still need to understand that you wield great influence over the life of your loved one. It is for this reason that addiction treatment professionals recommend staging an intervention.

You should consider collecting other loved ones to form a group so that you can talk to the addict together. As long as you ensure that the intervention meeting is properly planned and the goal of the meeting is focused on getting the addict the help that they need, it might be possible to continence them to go for rehab.

An intervention would also provide you with a way to show your loved one the support and love that you have for them. However, you can also use it as the right mechanism to set boundaries around their addictive actions and behavior.

You can also influence them by sitting down with them and talking about the concerns that you have. Try to go about this in a concise, clear, and calm way while remembering that they cannot control their substance use.

The other option would be to repeatedly offer them help through social support, sending them information about rehabilitation programs, as well as providing other methods that can help them get sober and healthy. In the long term, they might eventually accept the help that you are offering.

Talking to Drug Addicts and Alcoholics

You might assume that your loved one has to hit rock bottom before you approach them about seeking help. This is far from the truth. In fact, if you already suspect that they might have a problem, you should not wait to talk to them about it. This is because the earlier you get them the help they need, the easier and better it will be in the long term.

Research studies have also shown that confronting an addict is not the best approach to use. This is because it might turn out to be counterproductive. Further, it might cause them to turn defensive.

Instead, you should learn how to talk to them. Some of the things that you need to keep in mind when you are going about this include:

  • Approach them when they are ready to quit drugs and alcohol since this means that they would already have acknowledged the fact that they have a problem
  • Express your concerns in a caring and empathetic manner
  • Let them know that you would be willing to go for therapy with them - such as family therapy sessions and couples counseling - if they want you there
  • Regardless of their response, ensure that you are calm
  • Suggest all the treatment options that are available to them

However, you should never approach them in a public space or when they are intoxicated. Further, you need to ensure that you avoid blaming them or judging their situation. It is highly likely that they already feel ashamed and guilty about the problems that they are struggling with. To this end, you should be open-minded and accepting.

Interventions for Addiction

If the addict has refused the help that you have offered, you might want to think about hosting an intervention. You can do this by yourself or use the services of a professional interventionist.

During this meeting, you will gather various people - especially those who are significant in the life of your loved one, such as friends, colleagues, and family - and get them to gather with the goal of sharing stories about addiction.

When you host the meeting, the members present should talk about how the loved one's addiction has been affecting them on a personal or professional level. They should also discuss the fact that the time has come for the loved one to change. Further, everyone present should get the addict to accept addiction treatment.

Interventions are useful because many drug takers often have a difficult time understanding or even seeing all the negative consequences that have been arising due to their ongoing substance use.

In case you are not sure whether you have the capacity to host this meeting, you should consider talking to a psychologist, social worker, interventionist, or addiction treatment professional. They may be able to help you organize the intervention.

These professionals might also be able to suggest the best approaches to treatment, as well as create a proper follow-up plan. When you use professional services, it could also increase the chances that the meeting will turn out to be successful.

Enabling Behavior

One of the reasons why your loved one might be in denial about their addiction is because of the enabling behavior that you have been engaging in. due to this behavior, you may have been allowing them to continue abusing their preferred substances without enforcing any consequences.

It is easy to enable someone, especially if you love them. This is because you might be assuming that your actions are useful and for their good. However, these actions will prolong the substance abuse problem and cause them more harm, especially in the long term.

Here are some signs that you might be enabling an addict:

  • Allowing them person to sell drugs from your house
  • Bailing them person out of precarious situations they got themselves in while intoxicated, such as jail
  • Blaming others whenever your loved one behaves badly due to drug use
  • Lending them person money
  • Lying to other people so that you can cover up the negative behaviors that your loved ones have been engaging in

As an enabler, you might also have been neglecting your needs so that you can take care of the loved one's. this could potentially give rise to serious interpersonal, financial, and emotional problems.

Setting Boundaries

Even as you try to understand your loved one's addiction, you also need to make decisions about the things that you will no longer accept. It might be difficult for you to stop enabling them. However, this will get easier once you set boundaries - if only to protect your physical, emotional, and psychological health.

Even so, you need to understand that these boundaries are not going to work unless you follow through with them. Although enforcing boundaries might be more difficult than you anticipated, you can be sure that addiction is going to continue unabated unless you do so.

Every case of addiction and relationship is different. However, the following are some of the rules and boundaries that you might want set as you look towards stopping your enabling behavior:

  • Asking them to leave your home if they continue taking substances
  • Kicking them out of the home if they exhibit any aggressive, abusive, or violent behavior
  • Refusing to bail the loved one when they get into problems caused by their addiction
  • Refusing to continue lying about their hangovers and intoxication
  • Refusing to help them call in sick either to school or to work
  • Refusing to lend them money that supports their habit
  • Refusing to tolerate their angry outbursts
  • Refusing to tolerate their drug and alcohol use while in the house

In the long run, the fact that you are a loved one means that you wield some influence - however small - over the person who has been abusing drugs. As such, you can do some things to get them the help that they need to overcome their substance abuse and addiction.








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