Chances are, for most people addicted to drugs, they didn’t even know they were addicted to something until it was too late and until they are too far in to see what it has done to them, their lives, and to the lives of their family. When a family member, like a parent or sibling, loves someone who is addicted to drugs, they probably spend most of their energy and time hoping and praying they will change.
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How Family Help Addicted Loved Ones
They try to love harder, but unfortunately, love is not enough to make an addict change their ways. Family members do their best to put up with unacceptable behavior. They may go so far as to steal from their family, lie to them, and make promises they have no intention of keeping. They may disappear for days on end and leave their family worrying whether they are dead or alive.
The nature of addiction does not simply allow someone who is abusing drugs to just turn off their addiction, no matter the consequences. They are obsessed with using drugs and will chase the effects that the drugs provided compulsively and with little to no control. No matter how much they want to choose their family over the drugs, they simply cannot. The urge to continue with drug use is both psychological and physical.
Understanding the Addicted Brain
When a person has been abusing drugs for a longer period, they will experience changes in the brain that make it hard to think about anything else except the next high. Neurotransmitters in the brain, responsible for experiencing pleasure, will become altered making it hard for the brain to understand how to find pleasure in everyday activities. Experiencing life under the influence of drugs is the new normal for them and life without drugs may feel extremely unpleasant. Anything that can threaten the relationship they have with drugs is likely to be thrown to the side.
This isn’t because they want to choose the drugs over their family; it is because they feel like they have to. At this point, they no longer have the choice to choose for themselves. Addiction is a disease of the mind and an allergy to the body.
How Family Can Help Break the Cycle of Addiction
If you choose to make the difficult decision to stand by your addicted family member, the first thing you must understand is that you have no control over their actions. There are, however, ways that you can have a positive influence in their lives that may help steer them, in the right direction.
- Hold an Intervention: An intervention is a way to get the most important people together in the addict’s life in a structured setting and helps encourage them to seek treatment. It allows everyone to voice how addiction has constructively impacted him or her. The best way to do this is by working with a professional interventionist who can guide you through the process and act as a mediator.
- Inform Yourself: The best way to understand what they are going through is by learning about addiction through support groups, speakers, and even through social media. The more you can learn about addiction, the easier it will be for you to understand what they are going through.
- Get involved in Therapy and Support Groups: A person dealing with substance abuse is not the only one who heeds support. So do the loved ones in their lives. Seek out a professional counselor or a therapist who can help you cope with what you are dealing with. You can also find great support and friendship in support groups like Al-anon or Nar-anon, which are centered on helping the families of those addicted.
- DO NOT ENABLE: This can often be the hardest step a family will take to help someone addicted because it feels like you’re doing the opposite of helping them. You cannot confuse enabling with love. You are often making the situation much worse by giving them money, a place to stay, or bailing them out of situations they get themselves in. It is important to know the signs of enabling so you can make sure you are not contributing to continued drug use.
Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
If you or someone you love is struggling with the disease of addiction, this does not have to be the end of your story. When you are ready to get your life back on track, we will be here to help. You can be treated and you can recover from your addiction and lead a happy, fulfilled life. Our team of qualified professionals is available 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns you may have. It is time to put the pain and misery of addiction in your past and rebuild your life into something you are proud of. Now is the time to make the change. Here at Garden State Treatment Center, we want to help you do it!