What to Do if Someone You Love Has a Drug Abuse Problem
If You Think Your Loved One is Struggling with Drug Abuse
You may suspect that a close friend, family member, or loved one is experiencing issues with substance abuse. They may have become withdrawn, or have acted out with irritation when you voice your concerns. You may be at a loss as to what to do about this problem. The first step towards getting your loved one help is recognizing the signs and patterns of a substance abuse issue.
Recognizing the Signs of Drug Abuse
While different drugs and substances have different effects on the user, the ways in which substance abuse affects their lives and the lives of their loved ones tend to be very similar. Even if your loved one is misusing prescription medications, they may still demonstrate some of the following behaviors. If you suspect that your loved one has a drug abuse issue, then you may want to watch out for the following signs:
- Irritability, mood swings
- Sudden changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and hygiene routines
- Inability to hold a steady job
- Not handling their personal responsibilities, such as childcare or family obligations
- Issues with money, unable to pay bills due to money being spent on obtaining drugs
- Suspected stealing from you or other family members
- Withdrawing from family or friends
- Drug paraphernalia in the home
- Drug-seeking behavior (if they are using prescription medications such as painkillers)
- Openly engaging in risky activities, such as needle sharing, sexual activity with strangers, or theft
- Getting into trouble with the law due to drug-related behavior
When you have noticed at least two or more of these warning signs over the course of at least a month, then you may want to reach out to your loved one with your concerns.
Addressing Your Concerns and Helping Your Loved One Choose Recovery
Talking to your loved one about their drug abuse problem needs to be handled carefully. People who struggle with drug abuse of any kind have to be ready to enter recovery on their own terms in order for the treatment to be successful. You may encounter a significant amount of resistance to your queries about their health and habits.
It may help to sit down with them and other family members and friends and hold a meeting in which you all openly express your fears and concerns for the health of your loved one. It will be difficult for you to talk about these issues, and it will be hard for them to hear that they do indeed have a problem. However, if this confrontation is planned beforehand and outlines a clear path to recovery, the loved one may be willing to accept it.
The Benefits of Inpatient Therapy
When your loved one is ready to get the help they need, then you may need to help them find a treatment facility. There are many options available to addicts who choose recovery, but perhaps the best way for them to become well again is through inpatient therapy. These programs typically last from 30 to 90 days and involve staying at the rehabilitation facility full-time until the treatment is completed.
Inpatient therapy provides innumerable benefits to its participants. Patients are given constant medical support during the initial withdrawal period. They are encouraged to continue to look after their physical health after this difficult period of time has passed. Inpatient rehabilitation services also provide patients with the chance to participate in group therapy sessions, as well as individual meetings with therapists who can help the patient develop coping mechanisms that do not involve resorting to substance abuse. Emotional support is one of the most important aspects of recovery, as it will aid the patient in recovering from their initial mindset that promoted addiction in the first instance.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of inpatient therapy is that it provides emotional support and a different environment than the one in which the patient previously lived. This decreases the chances that the patient will lapse into old behaviors that can cause further drug abuse. The chances of relapsing are higher in the initial period of recovery, so it is important that the addict is able to form new relationships and engage in new experiences that do not involve substance abuse. Outpatient therapy does not provide this service, as participants are free to go home at the end of each session. This can lead to them continuing to associate with people and places in which they used to use drugs, alcohol, or other substances, which can in turn lead to a relapse.
Living with the knowledge that your loved one is struggling with a drug abuse problem can be a burden on your emotional health. You may feel anger, sadness, and frustration at your loved one. These feelings are totally normal emotional responses, but if they begin to affect your day to day life, then you may want to consider counseling for yourself as your loved one goes through inpatient therapy. There are usually support groups available for family members and friends of addicts, and many of them are connected to inpatient therapy programs.
Seeing a close family member, friend, or loved one struggle with a drug abuse problem can cause you a significant amount of heartache. They may not realize the hurt that they are causing you and other people through their behavior. At certain points, you may think that there is nothing you can do to help them. However, getting them the help they need when they are ready for it can go a long way towards mending that emotional pain that they have caused. By acting as their source of support as you intervene and guide them towards recovery, you will be helping them get their life back on track. When they are ready, they will most likely be thankful that you were there for them in their time of need.