Helping a loved one with their addiction

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Much more often than not, attempting to talk to friends or family members about their potential drug or alcohol abuse 1 is a sensitive, challenging, and sometimes painful undertaking. It is natural for an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, not to recognize the long-term consequences that cause pain and suffering to more people than just themselves. When seeking to help others overcome their addiction and the constant struggle with substance abuse, sometimes it is through those caring friends or family members that the user can finally find some relief2 by setting boundaries.


First, Understanding Addiction

Am I An Enabler?

There have been countless times where a family member has supported another’s addiction without even realizing it. Although it is not easy, letting them experience the consequences of their harmful habit can do some good. Sometimes, addicts are not accustomed to changing and won’t until they have to or are forced to do so.

Do not financially support the addict or their addiction. Ways this has been seen to happen include:

• Buying Groceries

• Offering to pay court or attorney fees

• Covering rent and other living expenses

• Providing transportation

• Bailing out of any other tough situations


Unfortunately, these seemingly selfless, caring, and loving acts will typically prolong their addiction. This happens with the opportunity of always being given to avoid the consequences and eliminates accountability.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration 3, drug abuse and mental health illnesses are complex, and each experience can vary. Substance use disorders are considered chronic diseases and require a successful recovery process to avoid the various consistent negative consequences4.
It is of the utmost importance of all close friends and family members to be consciously aware of signs and symptoms that substance abuse and mental health issues5 are capable of creating. These basic understandings of these abuse problems and being able to lend help through support groups or by encouraging addiction treatment. Small steps like this have proven to be enough to save a life.
Below are a few of these signs and symptoms6 that are regularly seen:
• Withdrawing from activities and hobbies that were previously delighted themselves in
• Frequently experience intense cravings
• Consistently taking more of the prescription or substance than intended to originally
• Experiencing visible withdrawal symptoms when the drug use is cutoff
• Taking the drug primarily to alleviate those withdrawal symptoms
• Continuing to use the drugs regardless of the issues being caused by it
• Failure of cutting back or to quit using
• Consistently taking more of the prescription or substance than intended to originally

How Difficult Is Recovering From A Drug Addiction?

Of the individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the hefty majority7 of them cannot merely quit using all of a sudden. It is proven to be significantly challenging to overcome, even short-term addictions.

As time passes with an addiction, there are a variety of changes to the brain’s chemistry8 that gets altered as a result of the abuse. Many of these changes brain changes work to overpower any addiction recovery efforts that are being pursued and, instead, encourage more substance abuse behaviors.

It is crucial to know and thoroughly understand that the addiction your loved one is suffering from is not your fault. Being helpful and supportive is beneficial, but the decision to get clean through a certified treatment center like Opus Treatment in Costa Mesa9 is ultimately up to the user.

Should I Be Involved?

If the person agrees to enroll in an addiction recovery program, it is encouraged for loved ones to continue and be involved in the recovery process10. Just sending them off and assuming that everything will go well is not an option worth being considered. The ongoing love and support from friends, family members, and other loved ones is vital.

While they are in the treatment facility, visiting often and sending or dropping off packages can show a great deal of support and ease some of the burdens being experienced. It is encouraged for the family to participate in programs and group sessions so that crucial bonding skills can be developed together.11

By doing these things, you convey a willingness to be a good and healthy influence throughout their recovery. The involvement of loved ones and their support has proven time and time again to provide feelings of comfort and safety12 to those receiving treatment.

Sparking The Conversation With Loved Ones

There is an often misinterpretation that individuals who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs need to experience hitting rock bottom before they can genuinely start to get better. Our team of professionals13 have many years of experience and always strive to provide each patient with expert level care.

If you suspect a close friend or family member is struggling with addiction, do not hesitate for one minute. The sooner the addiction can be addressed and treated, the better.

What To Do:

  • If possible, approach them when they are already trying to recover from their habit
  • Voice your concerns in a caring and compassionate way
  • Remain calm and do not let their response change your mood
  • Propose or recommend suitable treatment options and explain how they would help
  • Express your willingness to remain involved and stay by their side throughout the entire treatment process

What Not To Do:

  • Being contentious and combative will only push them away further
  • Never approach the conversation while out in public
  • Always avoid talking about their addiction while they are under the influence
  • Set all judgments and blame aside. All that will cause is the user feeling guilty and most likely, angry

Hearing lectures or other’s life lessons is never helpful to a struggling addict. Usually, they will be unable or not willing to take what you are saying to heart and apply it in their life.

Although challenging, holding them accountable and offering the appropriate help and guidance is often precisely what they need. You cannot expect those you want to help to keep their promises, and the disease makes that nearly impossible.

If your friend, family member, or someone you know is seeking recovery and needs help, learn more about our industry-leading treatment facility in Costa Mesa. Reach out today to hear about our evidence-based processes and procedures14 and how programs we offer could be a suitable fit for each situation.