Substance Abuse

by kslinskey

Watching a loved one following the path of addiction is heartbreaking. However, by following some necessary guidelines the chances of success while helping an addict become higher.

Watching a family member or loved one go down the treacherous road of addiction is heartbreaking. To see a once pleasant and charismatic person turn into a cold shell of a human being is devastating and unfortunately common. It is reported that 1 in 3 families are impacted in some way by addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. The road to helping these individuals can be scary and it does not always result in recovery, however by following some necessary guidelines in dealing with and helping an addict, their chances of success become much higher.

How to Help an Addict

“Thanks, you’re the only one I can count on,” smiles the addict, fully engaged in flattery and manipulation.  Don’t buy it. This is how addicts play to your ego. They build you up; explain how everyone else in their life has let them down. The truth is, when you give an addict aid you are engaged in enabling behavior. This is not usually intentional and most people feel they are helping, however every dollar given to someone in active addiction, is another dollar toward that feeding their addiction and helping them to use more.  

It is essential to keep healthy boundaries with the addict in your life. This isn’t to say you should shut them out completely; rather it is to let your loved one know where you stand. The more an addict is enabled and given things such as money, rides and/or shelter, the longer they are able to use. Most addicts are not self sufficient and need help from the people around them to maintain their habit. The goal of setting these boundaries is to help the addict to reach rock bottom. When an addict is given boundaries it makes it easier for this person to run out of options. The goal is to leave the addict with only one option, getting help.

Make friends and family aware of the problem. This is a very delicate issue and should be handled as such. Posting pictures of your loved one passed out on the lawn for the whole internet to see is definitely not one of these subtle ways. Phoning friends and family to let them know what is going on with your addict is a more discrete and effective way of helping to cut off his resources. Once family and friends know to set their own boundaries the addict will realize his resources are diminishing. This is when they begin to contemplate seeking help. 

Seek help. The most important thing you can do for your addict and for yourself is to seek help. Contact a treatment center and speak with a trained professional. These specialists can help you take the necessary steps to getting help for your loved one. They can also provide resources for the family and friends to find their own help and support during this difficult phase of their lives.

Do not accept excuses. Addicts are notorious for their defenses and justifications. When given the option of treatment many balk. “I cannot lose my job, abandon my family or shirk my responsibilities,” they will cry. The truth is all of these things will be lost without the addict being properly treated for their addiction. Some will claim they are afraid, or that they do not want to be “committed,” however most drug rehab programs are voluntary and the client has the ability to leave if necessary. There are many drug rehabilitation centers, such as, A New Day Rehab in South Florida, Hanley Center and Suncoast, which provide effective treatment considering the nature of treatment required by different addicts.  

The number one defense of the addict is that they do not need help. They can control their addiction and will be able to correct the problem on their own. In most cases this is untrue. A common symptom of addiction is the illusion of control and although the addict truly believes they are managing their problem, they are not. A person engaged in active addiction is powerless over their use and abuse or drugs and/or alcohol and continues to display the same behavior time and time again despite any consequences that may arise from their actions.

Updated: 03/20/2013, kslinskey
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katiem2 on 03/20/2013

Very helpful information. There seems to be more and more amazingly talented and wonderful people becoming addicted to prescription drugs. The saddest part of all may well be how most everyone over looks their change because they've always been so together often till its so far gone and suffering so badly. Very useful article, tweeting it now. :)K

georgettejohn on 03/19/2013

Excellent article! I think setting "boundaries" and maintaining them are two of the hardest things friends/family members have trouble doing. I also believe that many people ignore the "elephant in the living room" and talk around it. Denial is often very much "alive" for the addict but often, also for those that love him/her.

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