Guest Post by Bethany Hatton
Alcohol and substance abuse negatively impact every aspect of a person’s life, including their relationships. If you suspect a friend or loved one is having an addiction problem it can be difficult to approach them about it.
However, addiction is a serious disease and early intervention offers a higher chance of successful recovery. Approaching the situation with care can encourage your loved one to take their first step towards getting help.
Confirm There is a Problem
Before you confront someone, you should be certain there is actually a problem. Learn the signs of addiction and study your loved one for a few days or weeks to gather evidence. It may help to keep a journal to accurately track their behavior.
Common signs of addiction are drastic changes in mood and attitude, new friends and hangouts, poor work performance, a sudden change in weight, loss of interest in things they used to love, as well as poor responsibility and follow through behavior.
Trust your instincts and don’t hesitate to confer with mutual friends and family to see if they have noticed anything. Psychology Today urges you to be on the lookout for suicidal behavior. It is common for those with a substance abuse to be suicide at-risk. If you believe your loved one is in danger of immediate harm, do not hesitate to call 911.
Talk to Them About it
Having a conversation with a loved one about their substance abuse can be a scary thought, but many people need this conversation to learn they have a problem. The key is to approach with care and emphasize your concern.
This is not a time to judge or explore their motives. Instead, list the behaviors you have observed and remind them this comes from a place of love. It is important that you give them a chance to talk, too. You do not want it to come across as a lecture or they will shut down. Ask open-ended questions and encourage them to participate.
Ask For Professional Help
Do not be afraid to seek out professional advice early on. Substance abuse professionals, such as mental health therapists, physicians, counselors, or clergy can help guide you in finding help for your loved one and how to handle the situation. They can also help you in choosing an appropriate recovery program.
There is not one size fits all when it comes to addiction treatment. What may work for one person may not work for another. If you are at a loss on where to start, the Government of Canada website lists resources by province and may guide you in the right direction.
Finding the Right Treatment
Keep in mind there are many different types of recovery programs. There are long term and short term residential treatments, or outpatient treatment centers that allow for the patient to be treated while continuing to function in everyday life.
Many facilities are structured around the classic 12 Step program. These places often supplement the twelve steps with a variety of therapies, from group and individual, to art and music, to reconnecting with nature.
There are also places that use holistic treatments that emphasize addressing the causes of addiction and not just the symptoms. Religious and higher power based programs aim to replace addiction with spirituality.
Do Not Forget About Your Needs
Addiction affects everyone. Just because you are not the one with the substance abuse problem does not mean that you do not need help as well. For your own mental health and protection, it is a good idea to join a family of addicts support group. Push yourself to share your feelings and experiences with others, it will help both you and the other people in the room.
Above All Else: Show Your Support
The road to recovery can be long and strenuous. It is a vulnerable time for someone who has a history of substance abuse, but admitting they have a problem and accepting help is a huge step. The best thing you can do to help your loved one is to consistently show and express your love and support.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.
Bethany Hatton is a retired librarian with 32 years of experience. She runs PreventAddiction.info, which she created after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids. As her grandson recovered from an overdose, the number of questions Bethany had about his illness swelled: How had his addiction developed? Could she and other family members have done anything differently along the way? And most importantly, how could she help him get better and ensure others in her family and community didn’t suffer the same fate? She now dedicates her time to sharing the most reputable, reliable information she can find on the subject.