Drug addiction is more common than we think. Here are a few statistics from AddictionCenter that will make the picture clearer:
- There were approximately 20.6 million people in the United States over the age of 12 with an addiction in 2011.
- Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction (excluding tobacco).
- 2.6 million addicts are dependent on both, alcohol and illicit drugs.
- Rates of illicit drug use is highest among persons aged 18 to 25.
- Over 90% of those with an addiction began drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18.
‘Drug addiction’ are words that have always been associated with emotions of pain, suffering and guilt. Dealing with drug addicts is never easy. Now imagine someone in your family or a dear friend becoming addicted to drugs. In an effort to overcome their dependence on drugs, it is not just them who will be fighting the addiction, but you will too.
That said, family members and close friends can act as powerful influences when it comes to helping a loved one who has become an addict. However, they need to ensure that their interventions and strategies are focused in the right direction.
Mentioned ahead are a few ways in which you can help your loved one overcome drug addiction:
- Educate Yourself
Knowledge is power and educating yourself about drug addiction can empower you enough to help your loved one beat it. Being ignorant will only make things worse. You need to know about the characteristics, the symptoms, the causes, and the various related aspects of addiction. You need to acknowledge that addiction is a progressive disease and the addict is a patient.
Attend open AA/NA meetings as a family and learn about drug addiction and substance abuse. Interact with other families involved in similar struggles. You never know, you may find new rays of hope in the stories shared at these meetings.
- Know When to Withdraw/Offer Financial Support
While money is always given by family members with the best of intentions such as paying bills or fees, or buying groceries, it also serves as an easy way for addicts to buy more drugs. However, if this source is cut off, addicts will not be able to buy drugs and automatically seek help for the withdrawal symptoms they experience. Withdrawing financial support in such a scenario is, therefore, crucial.
Do support your loved one’s treatment, though. Speak to doctors/addiction specialists who can help and pay them their fees on time. This kind of financial support is important for recovery to take place. Buy easy-to-use home urine drug testing kits and medicines that may be required to help the addict. Follow the doctor’s instructions and provide your loved one with the encouragement and the support he/she needs to battle the addiction.
- Empathize, Don’t Sympathize
Drug addicts do not need sympathy, but they do need empathy. It is, therefore, advisable to avoid reactions of pity and even anger. The former usually springs up once the latter subsides. These emotions can make the recovery process harder for the loved one.
Additionally, refrain from preaching to or lecturing the loved one about what they should be doing and what could have been. Doing so will prove to be a waste of time as they’ll be discounted by the addict. Remember, preachy talks are the last thing that motivate a sick person. If drug addicts were to get better through them, we’d see a lot more addicts recovering a lot more quickly.
- Arrange for Intervention
An intervention is considered one of the most effective means to get an addict to realize that he/she needs help. It entails a meeting in which family members/friends show the addict how the problem has impacted not only his/her own life, but also of others around him/her. An intervention is done with the hope of providing the addict with a realistic view of the repercussions of his/her addiction rather than physically get him/her into rehab.
Doing an intervention, however, is easier said than done. It requires planning because you’re trying to reason with a person whose mental capacities have been impaired by the addiction. This is where a professional interventionist can come to your rescue. He/she can help you with the entire process. Plus, an interventionist can also serve as a neutral, non-judgmental entity if the situation gets heated.
- Don’t Judge or Blame
When you do an intervention, remember its sole purpose: to make your loved on realize that they need treatment for their drug addiction. This is not the time to pass judgements on or blame them for every bad decision they ever made. Avoid the “I-told-you-so” type of arguments at all costs. Further, steer clear of bringing religious or philosophical arguments into the picture. Instead, try to subtly explain how the addiction hurts the addict and everyone they love.
- Always Stand By Your Word
Whether or not your addicted loved one wants to undergo treatment is a decision that only he/she can make. After the intervention concludes, he/she may decide not to seek drug addiction treatment at a rehab center. If this does happen, the consequences you outlined at the start of the intervention need to put into action immediately.
For instance, if you said that you will discontinue financial support, then stop giving him/her any money from then on-wards. This approach may seem tough on your loved one, but making empty threats will only give him/her the impression that you’re not serious about getting him/her into rehab. Stand by your words and do not provide any support that enables him/her to continue abusing drugs.
- Get Treatment
If your addicted loved one has chosen the path of recovery over drug abuse, be there to facilitate the necessary treatment. Do not entertain the “one last time” requests. Get help immediately without any further delay.
While experiencing feelings of sadness, fear, worry, and anger are common, some people have a hard time coming to terms with the frustrations of life. Some resort to alcohol, others take to drug abuse. More often than not, it is the family members of such people who end up bearing the brunt of the consequences including stress, financial costs, lifestyle changes, and so on. It does, indeed, take tremendous patience to help drug addicts. The above tips should help you effectively channelize your effort in the right direction.
Nicky Gomez is a digital content manager at TestCountry. She understands the true value of health & writes about the various drug test kits to help parents keep a track of their teens.