How to Help With A Drug Addiction: Some Tips for Families
Families soon learn there are few perfect answers when it comes to drug addiction help. Every addict experiences the disease in a different way, and every personal or familial circumstance is different, but one thing is constant – drug addiction affects the entire family. The pain and chaos of the disease will impact everyone within that close circle of family and friends. Family drug addiction treatment, including drug rehab, will begin by setting limits for you and the addict.
Giving Up the Role of Rescuer
At times, family members of the addict feel powerless to stop the destruction that the disease of addiction causes. With only the best intentions they may try to keep the addict out of harm’s way and as a result do the wrong thing. Providing money to the addict “to go to a movie” or money “to go out with friends to eat” only minimizes the consequences of the addiction, and serves to cover up what is really happening. Drug addiction is a serious health issue, and it may oftentimes be emotionally simpler to cover up the disease than to face it head on.
Families oftentimes teach addicts not to face the consequences of their actions. The family becomes their co-dependent by always rushing to pick up the pieces, thereby doing more harm than good. If rent is not paid, for example, someone rushes to pay it. If there is no food, someone rushes out to buy the addict groceries. The family may find itself succumbing to the crisis and chaos over and over, without considering the consequences.
Giving up the role of the rescuer can be difficult, but in the end, family and friends must realize that even with all the help, the loved one still has an addiction to drugs.
Some Additional Pitfalls to Avoid
Don’t Prolong the Disease
Many addicts will resist drug addiction rehab or treatment unless they reach a low point in their life when they finally accept the existance of their disease, and in turn become willing to seek help. This point is often referred to as “rock bottom.” Yes, there may be negative consequences of varying degrees associated with allowing someone to reach rock bottom, but each and every time the addict is protected from the consequences of their disease and are rescued it will only delay the inevitable. Allow them to experience the full impact of their disease and find their own personal rock bottom.
Do not support the addiction by financially supporting the addict. Relatives with the best intentions typically give a little money, but it may serve the wrong purpose. Towards the same end, do not allow the addict to bully or coerce the family. Do not allow the addict to manipulate and blame family members into becoming the underlying cause of their addiction. This only distracts family and friends from the important issue of the illness itself. People suffering from drug addiction may experience emotional instability. They may get angry, initiate threats and look for pity. The family then rolls over and gives in. Avoid these reactions and stay strong.
Do Not Lose Compassion
Do not blame or judge, but rather talk to the person in an assertive manner and show your support for them seeking drug addiction rehab or help.
Don’t be quiet, but in turn express your concerns. It is hard to see someone suffer or make bad decisions, and at some point you must tell the addict you are concerned. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions, and although difficult, ease into a conversation about drug rehab.
Decide on your intentions. How much do you want to get involved in the process? Many people refuse to help someone addicted to drugs, and others will help, but have boundaries. Decide what you’re willing to do for this person.
Seek Professional Help with Drug Addiction
Families should always seek expert help. Keep in mind, addicts develop a deep physical and psychological dependence on drugs. Stopping “cold turkey” can be unhealthy – even deadly. For example, people who use alcohol may experience hallucinations, fever, agitationm or even seizures when they stop using the drug. To avoid pain and distress, the addict most likely will simply start using again. Addicts require professional addiction treatment from a reputable drug treatment center.
Addiction is a progressive illness that quickly becomes worse if not brought under control. Many addicts feel self-help is the best alternative as opposed to attending a drug treatment center, but it’s not. Self-help is usually complicated and difficult, and for most addicts trying to recover, there may come a preoccupation with activities that further complicate or do nothing to deal with the addiction. One cannot simply detox or treat the symptoms; one must also treat the problem(s) that caused the person to use drugs in the first place.
Healing the Family Unit
Lastly, addicts are not the only ones suffering. Family and friends should also attend support groups to have a better understanding, and share their experiences and talk openly about their feelings without fear of being judged or misunderstood. Support groups can also give family and friends insight into addiction from an addict’s point of view.