As much as drug addiction can utterly destroy an individual’s health and life, it can also destroy their family members’ health and life. Not only do family members struggle with guilt and fear over their loved one’s drug problems, but they often also struggle with a deep sense of helplessness to do anything about these problems. After all, many drug addicts will vehemently deny their drug problems, even to their closest family members, or deny that they need help for these problems. This can leave family members in a constant state of anxiety, knowing that their loved one’s drug habits lead inexorably toward death and always wondering when they will get the most terrible news they can possibly imagine. Fortunately, there are ways to stop the pain of substance abuse from wreaking lives and tearing families apart.
Coping With Addiction in the Family
Many drug addicts work hard to hide their drug addiction problems from others. This means that family members may suspect that their loved one is encountering some difficulty in their life, but they are uncertain about the source of the problem. If a loved one’s moods and behaviors have shifted suddenly and dramatically, if they are having problems at work and in relationship, if their health is rapidly deteriorating, if they are neglecting their responsibilities, if they are having trouble with their finances, if they are suffering low self-esteem and self-respect, if they are having legal issues and other major life changes, there is a good chance that they are struggling with drug abuse or addiction. Being willing to see and acknowledge that drug addiction is occurring is the first step toward stopping it.
Once you have determined that your loved one is suffering from drug addiction, you can take action to help stop it. Following are three basic steps to take:
1. Educate yourself fully in the truth about drug substances, drug addiction, and full recovery. It often occurs that an individual who has learned that their loved one is struggling with drug addiction believes that emotionally imploring their loved one to abstain from further drug use should be enough to get them to stop. However, drug addiction is a complex problem that a simple decision to abstain cannot fully and conclusively resolve, and trying to treat it as though it could be resolved this way will only create frustration for both the addict and the family member. By better understanding drug substances and how they interact with the body, what happens in drug addiction and how one can achieve full and lasting recovery, they can then understand what their loved one is going through and better encourage and support their recovery.
2. Speak up. Regardless of one’s reason for avoiding a conversation with their drug-addicted loved one, this avoidance actually works as a sort of condoning and enabling. It is never easy to discuss drug addiction with a drug addict, but it must be done if they are to get the help they need to change their life. Some key points to keep in mind while confronting a loved one about their drug use include: never discussing the problem while any party to the conversation is under the influence of drug substances, set aside the time for a calm, private conversation, ensure the individual knows that he is loved and will be given the support and encouragement necessary to achieve full recovery, give the individual exact specifics of undesirable behaviors that have been observed and damaging effects that have been caused, allow the individual to communicate back so he doesn’t feel lectured, do not judge or badger the individual, and be persistent. It may take several conversations over several days, or even several weeks, but it’s important not to give up.
3. Research and offer exact treatment options. Rehabilitation treatment is absolutely not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and simply offering treatment to a loved one can result in a dead-end discussion. However, in researching the exact treatment options that will work to the individual’s specific needs, one can impress upon their loved one that they truly care about assisting them in receiving the help they need in order to take back control of their life. Instead of stating that one suggests participation in rehabilitation treatment, a family member can show their loved one the exact program that they have searched out, and the exact methods and therapies it offers. This can go even further to help the drug addict recognize the support and encouragement they are being offered, which may push them into accepting.
There is no reason a drug addict or his family members have to suffer from continued drug addiction, as long as someone bravely steps forward and takes action to stop it.