How to Help An Addict [Guide]
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH
Read more below about how to help an addict that is in your life. If someone you know, or even yourself, are struggling with addiction then call us today. Our experts will help you get the treatment you need.
Addiction is a Complex Disease
Addiction is a problem that affects millions of Americans and costs over 400 billion dollars a year. For such a prevalent issue, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Addiction classifies as a mental disorder. It is a mental illness because it changes your brain’s way – it rewires the neurons in your mind.
In addition, it’s important to remember that addicts rarely quit entirely by themselves. Extended drug use prohibits the brain from creating endorphins naturally. However, a person has to keep taking their drug to feel normal. Without continued use, they enter a withdrawal state. This state involves a host of physical and mental pains that make it nearly impossible to resist using.
Addiction is not something easily broken. Likewise, when you find yourself searching for ways to help an addict, having help is crucial. Recovery is much more effective and long-lasting when you have the right tools. While there is no “cure” for addiction, professional service can help you, and your loved one manage it.
Signs of Addiction
Just as there are different substances to abuse, so is there a wide variety of addiction signs. However, while each case varies, there are some commonalities to know. For instance, look out for:
- They have obsessive thoughts and actions. Addicts will always look for ways to take their drugs, often at the sacrifice of everything else.
- The addict often loses control. When a person becomes addicted, then their primary focus is obtaining and using their drug.
- They deny their addiction, or they are hiding drugs. An addict will likely deny they have a problem or work hard to conceal their addiction.
- There are physical signs. These signs can include poor hygiene, sudden weight loss or gain, slurred speech, or a sudden lack of physical coordination.
It would help if you also looked for signs of withdrawal. A withdrawal state is a crucial factor in addiction and is one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome when working towards recovery. For example, withdrawal signs can include:
- Signs of anxiety.
- Loss of appetite.
- Depression, insomnia, or fatigue.
- Nausea, vomiting, or headaches.
- Seizures, hallucinations, or confusion.
In addition, when someone begins experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s best to seek medical help. The detox process can be hazardous. Call our specialists today if you see signs of addiction. Would you please not wait until it is too late? Call today and start your journey to a healthier life tomorrow.
How to Approach a Loved One About Addiction
When you want to help an addict, you’ll probably have many emotions you’ll struggle to contain. Reining in any hurt, anger, or pain might feel crucial when you first approach an addict. Talking to a therapist isn’t just for people struggling with addiction. Likewise, therapy can help you deal with the emotions you’ll face and develop a strategy for confronting your loved one.
For instance, here are a few tips for beginning the conversation:
- Gather information. Before you confront an addict, you should try to gather as much information about their problem as possible. The more you know, the less they’ll hide from you. You should also have concrete ways to help them, such as treatment options.
- Consider an intervention. Interventions can be powerful tools for helping addicts realize the depth of their problem and that they have many people in their lives who want to see them healthy.
- Don’t be judgmental. While an addict’s addiction might hurt you, remember that it doesn’t make them the wrong person. People that struggle with addiction are often ashamed of their problems and need help. They may also resist use if they feel attacked. Remember that you aim to care for them, not make them feel isolated.
Moreover, regardless of their reaction, talking about addiction is difficult. Don’t hesitate to find professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Walking the fine line between supporting and enabling will be one of your biggest challenges. You want to help your loved ones, but they are in a peaceful place. If you push too hard or become overly emotional, they will most likely retreat. It may even cause more drug use. Ideally, you would contact a professional and get help with how you will approach the situation. A therapist has the tools and experience with addiction to give you the best chance to reach your addict.
Also, just as recovering from an addiction is best done with support, it is also best when confronting someone. With permission, you can decide on consequences if your loved one refuses help. Having numbers on your side will help you stay firm on your decision and takes the pressure off you to be the sole center of their support.
Helping an Addict in Denial
Addiction is a scary thing. Often, people begin using drugs with the thought that they won’t become addicted. Like someone making excuses not to start a new diet, addicts will find justifications for their drug or alcohol problem. However, once denial sets, then addicts will have an increasingly hard time realizing they need help.
Your first confrontation can be eye-opening as long as you communicate kindly and sincerely. You mustn’t attack your loved ones because the denial will usually double down.
Host an Intervention
While interventions can be powerful, they can also be intimidating and embarrassing for someone suddenly confronted with one. You should therefore handle the situation with as much tact as possible. Some professionals can help you plan and even lead an intervention, such as therapists that specialize in addiction or interventionists. Here are the necessary steps of an intervention:
- Learn the extent of the problem. Gather as much information as you can: what drug the addict is using, how often they use it, what patterns they follow. The more you know, the better you can help them.
- Decide who will be there. Those in attendance should trust the person you’re looking to help. They should also be capable of remaining calm in this tense situation. If they plan on lashing out or degrading the addict, they shouldn’t be present. Appropriate members include parents, siblings, extended family, friends who positively influence their lives, and mentors.
- Know what to say. Before your intervention begins, each member should know what they want to say. You should express your hurt and concern for them but do it kindly. If your loved one refuses help, you should also be ready with consequences.
- Hold the intervention. You should invite the addicted person to the meeting without giving them specifics. One by one, the group should express why the addiction affects them and ask them to stop. If there is a refusal, each person should say what they will do because of it.
- Follow through. With the support of the group, you should stay involved in the addict’s recovery. You can attend therapy meetings with them to support them, avoid destructive behaviors, and talk when they need it.
Helping an Addict in Recovery
Once an addict enters the recovery stage of their journey, they often do not think they need help. However, recovering addicts are still vulnerable and at risk of the dangers of addiction. On the other hand, recovery is the period when an addict needs the most support.
Relapse is always a threat for a recovering addict. Therapy and rehab can help an addict learn the skills they need to change their lives, but it’s up to the addict to make it happen. If you are supporting an addict in recovery, for instance, here are signs to watch for:
- They romanticize the old days. Recovering addicts might fantasize about their drug use.
- Thinking they can use it again without becoming addicted. Going to treatment and successfully battling addiction may leave some people feeling like they could handle their drug more responsibly.
- They are meeting up with old friends. Reconnecting with people they used to is often something recovering addicts believe they can handle because they’ve gained control of their lives.
- Changes in behaviors. An addict getting close to relapse might become irritable or depressed. Relationships that they’ve worked to repair might begin falling apart. They may lose interest in hobbies that were fulfilling to them.
- The belief is that recovery programs don’t work. Suddenly changing their opinion on their recovery program’s validity can signal that they are struggling against relapse.
However, when you see these signs, talk to the recovering addict honestly about your concerns. There’s nothing wrong with bringing these signs up. At worst, you’ll have wasted a few moments. At best, you could help prevent a relapse. Moreover, if you need more information about how to help an addict, then call us today. Our professionals will work with you to make sure you get the treatment that you need.
Helping Someone Going Through a Relapse
Relapse can be traumatic, but you should remember that relapse does not mean recovery has failed. Recovery is like learning to ride a bicycle; you don’t give up after you fall. The best way to help an addict that has relapsed is to remain supportive.
Substance abuse changes the brain in ways that encourage continued use. Recovery is not as simple as the addict decides to stop using. Help your loved one recommit to recovery by reminding them why they’re doing it in the first place. Don’t be judgmental or lash out at them in anger. They are struggling and are probably ashamed and think of themselves as a failure.
Some things you can do to help recover from relapse, for example, are:
- Discover new activities or interests to keep their mind off drugs.
- Offer them support for their continued counseling.
- Help them avoid dangerous places or people.
- Remind them to take medication their doctors have prescribed.
- Talk with them about their feelings, fears, and doubts.
- Give whatever help you can if they need to find a new place to live or a job.
However, if you’re loved one relapses, remind them it’s all part of the process, and they don’t need to beat themselves up over it. They have to dust themselves off and continue their recovery, but your support dramatically increases the odds of their success.
Getting the Right Help
Quick Tips to Help an Addict:
- Remember to be kind.
- Be available to them as much as you can.
- Don’t be judgmental.
- Set boundaries and consequences if they refuse help.
- Speak to them, sincerely.
- Let them know you want to help.
- Stay on the lookout for warning signs.
- Offer them information about treatment plans.
To summarize, recovering from addiction is a long, painful battle that takes an army of support to win. There will be many challenges ahead of the person suffering addiction and for you as well. Getting professional help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one.
If someone in your life is struggling with addiction and you want to help, contact us today. From the first steps to dealing with relapse, we can help you.
To speak with someone about your situation and get a free consultation, call our addiction resource team at (385) 327-7418 today!
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