Watching someone close to you struggle with addiction can be frustrating, heartbreaking, and frightening. You see the negative impact it is having on their life and the danger they are putting themselves and others in, but they may be in denial. When an individual is caught up in their addiction, it can be difficult for them to see the bigger picture or imagine their life any other way.
It is important to remember that help is available and recovery is possible, even for people who have been in active addiction for years. As a family member or friend, you can help the person to see that they could benefit from addiction treatment. Though you can’t make the decision for them, you can stand beside them and let them know that you’ll be there to support them throughout their recovery, and you want to see them do what’s best for their life.
Recognizing the Signs of Addiction
There is a fine line between casual substance use and problematic substance use. Just because a person drinks from time to time doesn’t necessarily mean they’re battling alcoholism. And not everyone who takes prescription pain medication develops an addiction. Recognizing the signs of addiction can help you to determine if your loved one may need treatment:
- They have developed a tolerance and continue to use greater amounts of drugs or alcohol, or use it more frequently.
- Drugs or alcohol are their “go-to” for dealing with stress or challenging situations, for getting to sleep or relaxing, or for engaging in social interactions.
- They try to hide or downplay their substance use.
- They drink more than they intended to or have trouble stopping on their own.
- They have lost interest in activities they once enjoyed or have begun neglecting responsibilities due to substance use.
- Their health is negatively affected or they experience symptoms of withdrawal after not drinking or using drugs for an extended period.
If you notice these signs or symptoms, they may indicate that your loved one has a substance use disorder. Start writing down your observations so that you can discuss them with a medical professional or addiction treatment specialist.
Taking Steps to Encourage Addiction Treatment
One of the first things you should do is take the time to educate yourself about addiction. Read up on the causes, effects, signs and symptoms, treatment options, and recovery efforts so that you have a better understanding of what the person is going through. You may not have firsthand experience, but you can become more familiar with what addiction, treatment, and recovery entail.
Make it a point to talk to the person when they are not under the influence and express your concern. Let them know that you are worried about their health and wellbeing. You could explain that they haven’t seemed themselves lately and you miss that person. Discuss your concern that they may get hurt after they’ve been drinking or may not get home safely.
Avoid making accusatory statements such as “you drink too much” or “you never should have started taking those pain relievers.” Shaming or blaming can make the situation worse and cause the person to be more resistant to offers for help. It can also put a further strain on relationships and increase tempers.
If you’re unsure about how to talk to the person, stage an intervention. This involves working with an addiction specialist or interventionist to create a strategic plan for talking to your loved one. The specialist will talk you and your family through what to say, how to respond, and how to more effectively encourage them to enter treatment. It is important that everyone is in agreement about how the process will work and follows through with the plan exactly.
Another way to encourage treatment is to stop enabling their active addiction. Instead of making excuses for them, let them experience the natural consequences of their actions. Resist the temptation to lend them money or do things for them that they are capable of doing on their own. This can be especially challenging because it’s hard to watch them struggle, but it’s important that they begin to see the impact of their substance use.
Be prepared to get them into treatment when they accept the offer for help. Have a facility picked out ahead of time that you know fits with their level of need and situation. Do your research and look into the options available. An interventionist can help you to put these plans in place and coordinate transporting your loved one to a treatment facility immediately. You can also talk to the treatment facility and make sure you have everything ready to go for admissions.
Show your support and let the person know that you are proud of them for making the difficult decision to enter treatment and that you will stand beside them along each step of the way. Support from family and friends is an integral part of promoting continued recovery. Get involved with family programs offered through the rehab center so that you can work through your own challenges regarding a loved one’s addiction and learn how to better support their recovery.
If you are worried about a loved one, speak up. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away and doesn’t solve anything. By encouraging them to get treatment, you know that you are doing your part to try to get them the help that they need for recovery. It also lets them know that they have support and people who care about their well-being and want to see them get better.
Crossroads offers a residential treatment program for women, as well as a program designed for pregnant and new mothers. In addition, there are also outpatient groups for men and women as well as a family program. Clients can engage in personalized treatment to meet their needs and rebuild their lives in recovery. One of the hardest parts is admitting that you need help, but Crossroads can provide support along each step of the way from admissions through transitioning back into society.
[cta] Don’t delay – if you’re concerned about a loved one’s substance use, contact Crossroads about addition treatment options. [/cta]