Much research has been done regarding the effects of substance abuse on an addict. When someone is addicted, there is plenty of focus on how to provide treatment and help them stay sober. However, family members often don’t receive the attention and treatment they need. If you are an addict’s family member, you’re probably going through a plethora of confusing emotions and wondering where to turn for help. The Treatment Center is honored to provide the guidance you need.
Some drug and alcohol abuse symptoms are common no matter what substance the addict uses. Such symptoms include severe weight loss or gain, bloodshot or glazed eyes, poor performance at work or school, and loss of interest in favorite activities. That said, some symptoms are unique to specific drugs. A heroin addict might have nosebleeds or a sore or peeling nose if the drug is snorted.
The Treatment Center urges family members to educate themselves on the specific drug being abused and its effects. Additionally, family members should educate themselves on recovery. Many people assume once an addict achieves sobriety, the addiction is “over.” Actually, addiction is a lifelong disease. Your loved one may relapse, or need continuous therapy to maintain sobriety. Most addicts battle temptation the rest of their lives, but can overcome it with a strong support system of family and friends.
Treatment, Not Punishment
Addicts’ family members often communicate treatment is punishment, whether they mean to or not. The addict gets the message he or she has done something bad, shamed the family, or deserves to feel miserable. Thus, his or her confidence and self-concept sinks lower, increasing the likelihood of seeking substances for relief. A vicious cycle begins, one that families struggle to escape.
Although you may be angry, sad, or confused, don’t treat your addicted loved one as if he or she is being punished. Do not shut the addict out of your life unless they ‘re a legitimate danger to themselves or others. Don’t shield an addict from negative consequences such as court appearances or jail time, but don’t shame them. Set boundaries, but do not use them to shame the addict, or as a form of discipline.
Provide a Safe, Relaxing Environment
Addicts often struggle to feel safe. Their brains have been so affected; they think they need their substances of choice for basic survival. Addicts may deal with anxiety, depression, nightmares, tremors, and other frightening symptoms, especially during withdrawal. They will be given a safe environment in inpatient treatment; professionals are trained to help them cope. After treatment, though, your addicted loved one needs to feel safe and secure in whatever environment is available.
Your addicted loved one has learned to use drugs and alcohol to relax, or as a reward. Give them healthy alternatives; enjoy a shared hobby together, encourage them to exercise and eat some favorite healthy foods, or encourage them to get adequate sleep and do relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation. Keep the environment as calm as possible; in a relaxing environment, the addict’s brain will gradually calm, as well. It will relearn substances aren’t necessary for survival.
Do Not Enable Your Loved One
Loved ones often enable addicts without realizing what they are doing. Enabling can be anything from giving an addict money to giving them transportation to dealers. Sometimes, offering an addict a place to live is enabling, because the addict assumes they can use drugs in your home. Speak with treatment professionals to determine what constitutes enabling. Learn to say “no” and stick to it. Learn to recognize manipulation, and refuse to be sucked in.
Watch out for statements like,
“If you loved me, you would…” or “You know what will happen to me without this substance.”
Addicts’ families often struggle to set and keep boundaries on their own. They also struggle with getting an addicted loved one to accept treatment. If this is the case, seek outside help from family, friends, clergy, and addiction support groups like Al-Anon. An outside support system will not only keep your loved one on track, but also prevent you from enabling.
Recognize an Addict’s Potential
Engage in behaviors that encourage the addict to change. This is called positive enabling. Positive enabling encompasses offering the addict the opportunity to change through long-term treatment, and letting him or her know you believe change is possible. Let your addicted loved one know you remember who is still there underneath the addiction. Communicate that he or she can be that person again. Emphasize that although you will not contribute to the addiction, your love for the addict has not changed.
Take Care of Yourself
An old proverb says you cannot pour if your own cup is empty. While dealing with addiction, physically, mentally, and spiritually care for yourself. Eat right, and get adequate sleep and exercise. Do activities you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to get away for a break. Do not blame yourself; your loved ones addiction was not your fault. Your addicted loved one needs your strength, but strength can only come from a person who takes care of their own needs.
If Your Loved One Is Suffering From an Addiction, Don’t Hesitate to Contact
The Treatment Center Now.
LET US HELP YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONE THROUGH THEIR RECOVERY:
Inpatient Rehab Services