Often times, family and friends find themselves feeling helpless when a loved one is battling addiction. While it is true that you cannot help someone who refuses help, there are ways to encourage them to want to get help for themselves.
Because this situation is difficult, emotions tend to run high. The families of individuals dealing with addiction usually find themselves in the difficult position of whether to attempt to help, or cut them off from support. Addiction is a disease that causes a person to use several manipulative tactics- anything necessary to get high. Unfortunately, those closest to them- spouses, parents, siblings and friends- are usually at the center of the manipulation.
When a person’s life is out of control due to their addiction, it is easy for family members to attempt to put the pieces back together. Unfortunately, helping a person with addiction has the potential to enable their habit. It is important to be weary of the warning signs and handle a loved one’s addiction with compassion while also setting limits.
The Warning Signs of Addiction
An addiction impacts every aspect of a person’s life. The first step in helping your loved one is being able to recognize that something is wrong. While different addictions have different physical symptoms, there are some general warning signs of addiction. If you suspect that a friend, coworker, or family member may be struggling with addiction, look for some behavior symptoms including:
- Sudden changes in mood or personality
- Financial problems
- Increased irritability or aggression
- Signs of depression
- Drastic change in priorities and/or habits
- Involvement in law-breaking/dangerous activity
The most obvious warning sign of addiction is sudden dangerous behavior. People battling addiction put their addiction above all else, including the safety of their lives and others. This includes driving under the influence or unintentional self-harm. Note any stark changes in physical appearance or lifestyle, as this could indicate that it is time to confront the issue. Being able to accurately recognize the signs of addiction can help prevent the problem from progressing further.
How to Approach
When confronting this sensitive subject, it is critical to come from a place of love and understanding. Emotions can get out of hand from both ends during this time, but can come across as blameful. Keep your loved one’s best interest at heart and keep emotions sensible.
Try to present your concerns to your loved one in an understanding and supportive fashion. Use your own best judgement and personal knowledge to determine what may persuade your friend or family member to want to get help. Discussing someone’s addiction with them can be difficult, and they may become hostile and unwilling to talk. Find out if they are open to the idea of entering treatment, and let them know they would receive your support.
Educate Yourself on Treatment
When encouraging your loved one to get help with addiction, be prepared by educating yourself on the type of treatment programs and local resources that could help them. There are different treatment programs available depending on the type and severity level of addiction.
Some individuals can benefit from local programs like support groups. Support groups give the person a platform to speak openly and honestly about their addiction in an understanding environment. Individuals will develop a network of support with other people in the same situation. Many times, people in support groups will encourage one another to seek recovery.
Outpatient programs are for those with low to moderate risk addictions. With outpatient treatment, people are able to continue their daily lives with work and school and stay living at home. This provides an element of comfort to those in recovery, but also presents a risk as people still have access to triggering people or situations.
The next type of treatment program is inpatient programs, or residential treatment centers. In these types of programs, patients reside full-time while being treated. Individuals are able to fully immerse themselves in their recovery without any outside influence. During treatment, clients have 24/7 access to highly-trained professionals as well as different therapy methods. Patients will have limited access to outside influence and more in-depth recovery methods, increasing the chances of long-term recovery.
Does your loved one struggle with a mental health disorder? Mental illness and addiction often go hand in hand as a co-occurring disorder. Often times, those struggling with a mental health issue will turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Other times, prolonged addiction can result in mental health disorders. No matter which symptoms precede the other, co-occurring disorders should be treated together for the most successful recovery outcome. Co-occurring recovery is a field of its own, so if your loved one has a co-occurring disorder, it is important to find a program that specializes in that treatment.
It is critical to do your research in finding the right treatment method for your loved one so that you are able to provide them with facts and information. There are many options available to those struggling with addiction. Each individual and addiction is different, so it’s essential to find an option that works for their unique physical, emotional, and psychological needs.
Treatment and Recovery is Possible
As a friend or family member, you find yourself in a tough spot when it comes to watching a loved one struggle. It may be overwhelming, but helping your loved one help themselves is certainly possible. It is important to provide help and support to your loved one without enabling their actions. For many people, this is the toughest part.
While dealing with this difficult situation, it is always critical to take care of yourself. Acknowledge your own feelings and take time for self-care. A loved one’s addiction is taxing on not only themselves, but everyone around them. It may be beneficial to seek therapy options for yourself to manage the effects. Always remember to be patient, and remember that recovery for your loved one is a process, but is possible.