People often ask me how they can persuade a partner/friend to seek help so I was delighted to received an guest blog from Bethany Hatton on this tricky subject. Her grandson became addicted to opoids and as he recovered from an overdose she felt compelled to learn more. Using the research skills she honed during her work as a librarian, Bethany dedicated herself to searching the internet to find the most reputable, reliable information. Her article is below and her website is here :-
There’s no need to beat around the bush: Addiction destroys lives and kills people. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, more than 60,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016 alone, with almost 90,000 casualties related to alcohol. If you suspect that a loved one has fallen victim to substance abuse, you need to take action before they become another sad statistic. Learn what you can do to help now.
First off, do you know what you’re dealing with? It’s more than just consuming drugs and alcohol to excess. If so, it would be enough to simply ask them to cut down. What’s really going on is their brain has been taken hostage by the substance that they’ve been abusing. In fact, the word “addiction” derives from Latin words meaning “bound to.”
The substance gains control by changing the victim’s internal rewards system that is closely linked to a cerebral structure called the nucleus acumbens, which fires off the “feel-good” chemicals dopamine and serotonin when stimulated. Following repetitive use of drugs and alcohol, the structure stops responding to other sources of pleasure, and users spend more time in pursuit of their own poison.
Check for the Signs
Before going further, you want to be sure that your loved one is actually addicted. While not healthy, coming home drunk or high does not necessitate lengthy, life-changing treatment. Take a close look at their behavior and watch out for the telltale signs of real addiction, which shouldn’t be that hard to separate from a good time gone too far.
The biggest warning is that your loved one cannot stop, even if they know the substance is doing them harm. Also, you’ll notice them spending less time on activities that they used to enjoy such as music, sports or outdoor activities. There will be physical symptoms, such as periods of lethargy and irritability when not under the influence.
Stop the Enabling
If you’re sure this is addiction, make sure you’re not part of the problem; it’s possible you may be enabling the addict unwittingly, warns Psychology Today. This often comes in the form of offering help that only takes away the addict’s motivation to bear responsibility for their actions. You’re essentially putting off the first and most important step toward recovery.
Examine your own actions, and ask yourself some questions, such as:
- Do you ignore unacceptable behaviour?
- Do you put your own needs on the backburner to help the addict when they’re in need?
- Do you lie or make excuses for them?
If you answered yes, then you need to stop. This can be harder than it seems, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from an addiction expert.
Before trying to convince your loved one to seek help, you should know about what types of programs are available. First off, decide whether to go with outpatient treatment, such as traditional 12-step programs, which are based on a set of guiding principles first put into use to help recovering alcoholics in the 1930s.
Many inpatient programs involve the sufferer residing in a treatment center for up to 90 days. Those with an active spiritual life might thrive in one of the many religious programs scattered throughout the country. Others might be more comfortable in a holistic center that balances therapy with exercise, outdoor activities and meditation. Be sure to check reviews from former patients before selecting one that matches your budget and is covered by your insurance.
Take the Right Approach
Armed with information and a plan of action, it’s time to steer the addict toward treatment. This is something that needs to be done delicately, and it may take some time. Confrontational interventions are giving ground to softer approaches such as Community Reinforcement and Family Training, a motivational strategy with the goal of getting the addict, referred to as an identified patient, into a suitable treatment program.
Do not give up if you don’t succeed at first. Remember that they need you, and look forward to the wonderful times you’ll have when they are healthy again.
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