Watching a loved one battle addiction is one of the most upsetting experiences that you can go through. It’s not unusual to feel powerless in the face of drugs and alcohol, especially as you watch someone lose control of their life. Your friend or family member may have dramatically shifted in both personality and behavior, which may spark feelings of disorientation, fear, and even resentment. When the situation becomes worse, it’s more important than ever to focus on helping your loved one work through their addiction and treatment. With the right support, recovery is possible.
Signs of a Substance Use Disorder
Before helping your loved one, you will need to confirm that they do, in fact, have a problem with drugs or alcohol. There are several clear, observable symptoms that your loved one may be battling addiction. Try to answer the below questions as honestly as possible; as a note, the term “drugs” refers to illicit substances, prescription medications, or alcohol.
- Does the person take the drug in larger amounts or for a longer time than intended?
- Do they want to stop using or cut down, but seemingly cannot?
- Do they spend a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the drug?
- Do they have cravings or urges to use the drug?
- Are they unable to manage obligations at work, home, or school because of drug use?
- Do they continue to use the drug, even when it causes problems in relationships?
- Do they forgo important social, recreational, or work-related activities because of drug use?
- Do they use drugs again and again, even when it puts them in physical danger?
- Do they continue to use, even while knowing that a physical or psychological problem could be caused by (or worsened by) the drug?
- Do they take increasing amounts of the drug to get the desired effect?
- Have they developed withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved only by taking more of the drug? Some of these may be less obvious, such as general irritability or skittishness.
Do’s and Don’t’s of Supporting Your Addicted Loved One
Each situation is unique, but there are some best practices for helping your friend or family member overcome addiction. In your conversations with them, do focus on building trust, being honest, and respecting their privacy. They may be embarrassed or ashamed of their behavior, which means that you should tread lightly and provide positive feedback in response to their confessions. You can build trust by avoiding trust-destroyers: nagging, lecturing, yelling, name-calling, exaggerating, or engaging in addictive behaviors yourself. Don’t threaten or criticize them, and don’t expect them to change overnight. Recovery is a process that is best approached with an attitude of collaboration and optimism.
If you confront a loved one about their drug or alcohol problem, expect difficulties. Denial is one powerful hallmark of addiction, and your relative may not agree that they have a problem. Even if they do recognize the severity of their dependency, they may still refuse to change what they’re doing – especially if other factors are at play that you don’t know about.
Many people refuse to pursue drug or alcohol rehab because they are apprehensive of consequences at work, school, or home. This means that you can help your friend or relative by assuaging their fears about seeking treatment. Work with them to find a local center, answer insurance questions, and arrange for their absence.
What to Look for in a Treatment Center
There seem to be endless options available when searching for a rehab facility. There are several professional accreditations and memberships to look for when selecting a treatment center. If a center has not been properly accredited, its services and facilities have not been approved by governing bodies of the addiction treatment field. LegitScript Certification and Joint Commission Accreditation are both excellent signifiers of center quality. Membership in NAATP (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers), NAADAC (The Association for Addiction Professionals), and NARR (National Alliance for Recovery Residences) all indicate involvement and commitment to continually improved care.
Some people may be categorized as treatment-resistant – it’s not uncommon for them to have relapsed previously, or otherwise defy traditional addiction treatment approaches. For these individuals, it’s recommended to seek out uniquely qualified rehab facilities, preferably those who have an established track record with chronic relapsers. BRC Recovery is one such center.
Offering Support for a Loved One in Treatment
Different people need different types of support throughout the recovery process, so it would be worthwhile to consult your loved one’s treatment provider. For those whose turbulent friend groups and families pose difficulties, the counselor may recommend a specific approach to providing encouragement.
Generally, you should tell your friend or family member that you admire their courage for tackling this problem, and that as long as they stick with their treatment plan, you will offer support and help. When treatment is over, your loved one may experience a difficult transition back into their day-to-day life. There will be triggers everywhere, whether they take the form of old acquaintances, stressors, or locations, and you can help by learning what these are and assisting your friend in avoiding them.
BRC Recovery: Specializing in Care for the Treatment-Resistant
As Austin’s premier addiction treatment facility, BRC Recovery offers a wide variety of substance abuse treatments. With the care and expertise necessary to set clients up for a lifetime of success, BRC staff members provide gender-specific treatment, extended care services, holistic treatment options, and an integrated family program. If you or a loved one need to start over, call BRC Recovery at 1-866-905-4550.