How to Help a Friend or Family Member with an Addiction
Family Member with an Addiction
Forget everything you think you know about drug addiction and alcoholism unless you are an addict or alcoholic yourself. Keep an open mind and try to be patient. Remember what you are. If you are a parent, be a parent. If you are a friend be a friend. Don't play counselor. In some instances the opposite of what you think will help may even be whats best for a person. The common misconception is that a person addicted to drugs is a bad or immoral person. This is entirely incorrect. Alcoholism and addiction is a disease. It is not a disorder, not a syndrome, not a "phase" that people go through. The simplest way to look at it is that no matter what a person is addicted to, be it alcohol or drugs, it progresses and gets worse. If a person stops the use of alcohol or drugs for a certain period of time and starts using them again, the obsession to use more gets worse each time. The most important thing to know is that a person addicted absolutely can not stop the obsession to use on their own "will-power". This person has lost the power of choice. They can't simply not use drugs, or not drink alcohol. The majority of alcoholics or addicts think they can stop on their own, and will try and convince you so. This is not possible. Although a person may stop for periods of months or in some cases years, they eventually hit a "mental blank spot" where they can not think about the consequences of using or stop themselves from using on their own. Armed with this information it is much more helpful in the process of helping someone with this disease. (not problem,disorder,syndrome).
You may have heard "the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem". Sounds like when someone thinks they have a problem with drugs and alcohol all they have to do is say so. It is not that simple. As an alcoholic and drug addict myself I needed to know what was wrong with me and that the problem centered in my mind, not in the alcohol and drugs. Think of those as a symptom.
Telling someone they have a problem with drugs and alcohol does nothing, and never will. Trying to diagnose a person as an alcoholic or drug addict rarely gets anywhere either. This is why most alcoholics and addicts will upright walk out of an intervention or bold face lie during an intervention with the idea in the back of their head that they will drink or use again when its over and everything has 'cleared' up a bit.
The best time to help an alcoholic or drug addict is when they are the MOST hopeless. Not when they are out of money or drugs and need a place to stay, not when they say they need help to get you or others off their back. The best thing for you to do is help create this hopelessness. As much as it pains a parent, stopping contact andor making your sons and daughters addicted to drugs or alcohol leave your household, calling the police on them, not giving them money, creating consequences for them may actually help progress the disease and help them get to a hopeless state where help is what they want not just what they need. So what do we do once this person has tried every other option and finally gives themselves the self diagnoses of drug addiction or alcoholism?
If this person is in withdrawal from drugs or alcohol it is a must for them to attend a detox center. Drugs such as benzodiazepines(****,valium) and alcohol can cause DEATH if they are stopped abruptly without medical help. Other drugs such as opiates(oxycontin,****,heroin) do not usually cause death(although this person may feel like they are dying) when stopped abruptly. Do some research and call a local detox in your area before taking any measures into your own hands.
After detox this person should look and feel in much better condition. Now what? Most people believe that age and length of use really matter with drug and alcohol addiction. I believe in all that I have seen visiting rehab centers and fellowships the only difference is PHYSICAL.
Two people one 18, one 60...have both lost the power of choice and are mentally obsessed to use drugs because of prolonged use and possibly genetic predisposition. The person of age 60 has obviously done more damage to their health, and visibly seems worse off. When they are both physically well after detox....mentally they will both think the same way and be obsessed to use. Every thought will revolve around using or drinking. So it doesn't really matter to me.
At this point the BEST thing for this person is to have a talk with ANOTHER alcoholic andor drug addict who has gone through the same exact thing. Introduction to a fellowship such as AA(Alcoholics Anonymous),NA(Narcotics Anonymous),CA(Cocaine Anonymous) is a must in my opinion.