Addiction can tear families and relationships apart and it can be very difficult to watch a loved one harming themselves through their addictive behaviours.

It may be that the best choice is for them to go through a drug or alcohol rehab, but everyone’s recovery journey is different. Ultimately, the person with the addiction must want to change in order to make a recovery but there are some things you can do in order to help them help themselves.


Learn about Addiction and Substance use disorders

Forewarned is forearmed and educating yourself on the facts about alcohol and drugs can also help you to deal with your loved ones sensitively and to talk more knowledgeable about their problems. There can be a tendency for family members and others to believe that addiction is a choice, or that it stems from weakness or an unwillingness to change.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says: “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.

It is considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Addiction is the most severe form of a full spectrum of substance use disorders, and is a medical illness caused by repeated misuse of a substance or substances.”

This makes it very difficult to fight addiction without suitable treatments such as those provided in a private drug and alcohol rehab. As well as helping you to communicate with your loved one about their addiction, learning more about the subject can give you an idea of what they could expect if they go through processes like an alcohol detox or cocaine rehab, and give you an idea of where to go next.


Be understanding – but not enabling

Having social supports in place in the form of family and friends can be very important for anyone going through an addiction problem. They may also be going through other issues and there is a complex relationship between substance abuse and mental health.

You should try to stay calm and measured and be as supportive as possible, but there can be a fine line between being supportive and enabling their substance misuse. Taking care of the person’s tasks or responsibilities, funding their habit or turning a blind eye to their drinking or drug use might feel supportive in the short term but can be counter-productive in the longer term.


Look for Professional help

The support of sober friends and family members can be very valuable but, even if you have read up on the subject of addiction, you will not have the expertise and knowledge of an addiction recovery specialist. In some cases, the drug and alcohol abuse and addictive behaviours can only be effectively dealt with using treatment options such as alcohol and drug rehab.

There are a number of treatment programmes and options available and some may be more or less suited to certain individuals. Outpatient treatment that is commonly available through the NHS can be very valuable but it does have drawbacks.

Resources can be stretched, there are long waiting lists and your loved one will still be struggling with the pressures of everyday life and all the triggers associated with their drug abuse. They will also have to largely manage their own alcohol or drug detox.

In a rehab centre, they will be in a safe and secure environment where they can really focus on their recovery, whether that involves cannabis rehab, cocaine detox or any other sort of treatment.

Here they will undergo a managed detoxification and participate in a programme of evidence-based addiction treatments designed to address the root causes of their addiction and substance misuse. Some treatment centres will also offer treatments for coinciding substance addiction and mental health issues via dual diagnosis treatment.


Consider an Intervention

Sometimes the person struggling with addiction is not willing to go into rehabilitation or seek any kind of help. Addiction tends to go hand in hand with defensiveness and self-denial and many addicts will refuse to see the extent of their problem, or even that they have one at all.

In these cases, staging an intervention can help the person to face up to the impact their addiction is having, not only on themselves but on the people around them. It gives you the chance to describe the effect their behaviour is having but should always be carried out in a calm and measured way.

It is easy for passions and tempers to rise but recriminations and anger can be counterproductive. Some treatment centres may offer a guided intervention service led by a neutral and experienced professional, which can be very useful.


Try Therapy and other Techniques

Even without staging an intervention, family therapy can be a good way for family members to discuss some of their problems in a calm and neutral environment. This can help you to break down barriers built through resentment and guilt.

As already mentioned, drugs, alcohol and mental health can have a complex relationship and therapies for anxiety can be useful for some people.

Techniques like meditation and mindfulness can also be valuable for some people and you could accompany your loved one. Finally, there are various support groups, charities and organisations that could be able to help.


Look after yourself

Drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic disorder and dealing with the fallout from an addict’s destructive behaviour can be very wearing. It is common for loved ones to put the addict’s needs above their own, but this can be counterproductive.

To put it simply, you will be in no position to help your loved one if your own physical and mental health starts to decline as a result. Look after yourself because when you take care of your own needs first, you will be in a far better place to help your loved one with theirs.

If you are worried about a loved one, contact us today for confidential advice or to start the admissions process rolling.


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 3 December 2021

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

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