How to help someone with addiction? It seems today like everyone does. It’s no surprise, as 23 million Americans have a substance abuse or dependence issue, and 90% are not seeking treatment to overcome their addiction. Addiction can happen to anybody.
David Sheff, the author of the New York Times #1 best-selling book, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, states, “Most people think that they and their families are immune to drug problems—they happen to others, not to them—but addiction is a tragedy that can befall any of us. People—good people, loving people—transform into ones who are unrecognizable.”
After reading this article, you will have an understanding about how to approach your loved one struggling with addiction. You will learn how to set the foundation needed to start the recovery process, and you will be able to answer questions like:
Identifying the Need for Addiction Help
Have you ever wondered whether yourself or a loved one has is addicted to alcohol or drugs, then the answer is most likely yes.
Recognizing the symptoms of alcohol or drug addiction early on is imperative. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) offers an online test you or your loved one can try. Your answers will help to identify any underlying signs of an alcohol or drug problem.
Most people suffering from drug or alcohol addiction cannot stop using on their own. They feel sick from withdrawal feelings and experience intense cravings. Using drugs or drinking alcohol are part of their “normal” routine.
Refusal of Treatment
According to a report by the Surgeon General on alcohol, drugs, and health, 40% of people who admit to being addicted to drugs or alcohol aren’t ready to quit using. The remainder don’t feel as if they have a problem—that’s particularly true for teens and young adults from ages 12 through 26.
Numbers Don’t Lie
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently shared some staggering statistics.
- In 2015 almost 94% of adolescents who needed treatment didn’t receive it. However, only 1.4% thought that they needed it!
• In the young adult group, over 92% didn’t get needed treatment. Like the adolescents, most believed they didn’t require treatment. In fact, just 2.7% felt they needed help.
• Adults are slightly more aware when they need help with recovery. Although just 5.5% believed they needed help.
- Judgment– Harm to the frontal lobe of the brain negatively affects the ability to use good judgment.
• Motivation – Using drugs and alcohol impairs the brain’s reward system. The only way to satiate it is through using drugs or alcohol.
• Priorities –Abusing drugs or alcohol becomes more important than family, career, life’s responsibilities, and meeting goals.
If you, a family member, or your loved one needs treatment, but they are unwilling to seek it, time is a crucial factor in getting them into treatment.
- During the past 15 years, the drug overdose death rate has more than doubled.
- Depending on your location, certain substances may be more commonly abused – and even more dangerous.
- The recent crackdown on prescription painkiller abuse has led to skyrocketing heroin death rates, with no sign of improvement on the horizon.
However, you should remain hopeful. With guidance, you or your loved one can change.
Convincing Someone to Seek Treatment
It’s difficult to learn how to convince an abuser that they need help. Like every decision, it’s best for them to learn this by becoming self-aware.
Here are some soft approaches that you can try to convince someone to seek help.
First, try asking them open-ended questions. A great question to ask is, “What would your life look like if you didn’t drink (or take drugs)?” Another question could be “How would you solve life’s problems without drinking (or taking drugs)”
These questions are intended to invite them to self-reflect and think about how to solve their own problems.
- Learn about medical detoxification yourself. This process includes using medication to wean people off drugs and alcohol. It lessens the physical discomforts of withdrawal, as well as ensuring their safety. Quitting cold turkey can be damaging. Do your research and share what you learn. It could be a relief for your loved one to know they don’t have to face the fight alone.
- Explore a variety of treatment programs. Some people excel in a 12-Step program. Others thrive in a holistic program. It is critical to have at least a little faith in the core values of the rehabilitation program. Seek out a program that matches your own core beliefs.
- If you are considering treatment, talk to your primary care doctor and inquire about treatment referrals or medications.
Help Someone With Addiction – Rehab 101
The different steps of each person’s treatment are needs-based. Alcohol abuse treatment programs are different than those for drug abuse, for instance.
However, each rehab program shares some fundamental similarities.
- Intake – During intake, the rehab center asks questions to determine if their program is a good fit. They may order tests and screenings to pinpoint the specific program needs of the user and also the stage of addiction. Finances are arranged at this time, as well.
- Detox –During this stage, the alcohol and/or drugs are eliminated from the body. Medication might be prescribed to lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Professionals remain on-site in the event of an unforeseen medical emergency.
- Rehab –During rehab, therapists uncover and identify underlying causes of substance abuse. These therapists teach the user to cope with those issues through therapy (individual/groups/behavioral/family).
- Recovery –Prior to leaving the rehab center, patients and therapists devise a long-term plan for continued sobriety. After-care can include outpatient treatment of a sober living home. These options help ensure a smooth transition back to everyday life.
Patients will be provided with information on local 12-step programs and support groups. These are the places that patients will connect with other people who have walked the same walk and will encourage them in their journey.
The Myth of Rock Bottom
The notion that a person must hit rock bottom before they seek help is a myth. Instead, consider rock bottom to be a milestone. This should be the turning point when one decides to accept responsibility for keeping themselves clean and sober. Don’t sit waiting for rock bottom. There could always be a lower point–death.
It doesn’t matter how severe the alcohol or drug problem is, most people will benefit from treatment.
NCADD shares these statistics:
- 40-70% of patients seeking treatment remain drug-free a year later.
• 1/3 of those treated for alcohol addiction remain sober one year later.
• Many others reduce their drinking substantially and report less frequent problems.
When Addiction Treatment is Court Ordered
According to the experts of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), those who are court-ordered into substance abuse treatment programs have a better initial outcome than those who admitted themselves voluntarily.
Sadly, though, court-ordered treatment is based on fear. People enter recovery due to the fear of a serving a prison term or the stigma of a prison record.
In the long run, treatment is only useful when the person is truly committed to long-term change. If their core behaviors and thoughts remain unchanged, relapse is likely.
The International Center for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) recently backed up that claim. Their Director says, “The evidence clearly indicates that forcibly enrolling individuals does not result in sustained, positive outcomes.”
To truly help someone with addiction it is important to give them the necessary support and encouragement to willingly enroll and take part in a long term addiction treatment program.
Help Someone With Addiction – Become a Problem Solver
If you or a friend is fighting addiction to alcohol or drugs, become a problem solver and be proactive in seeking treatment. Most people who are dependent on substances cannot change alone. Use a soft approach to help your loved one decide that they need to seek help.
Finally, suggest that your loved one read positive stories of others who have struggled with addiction. This helps them learn that becoming sober is possible. It also helps them to get the motivation needed to take the first step.
You don’t need to fight addiction alone. Call now to find out the best way to help someone with addiction today.