Drug and alcohol addiction can be a terrible thing to go through. It can have a huge impact on a person’s physical and mental health, but it doesn’t just affect the person with the addiction.
It can also have big negative impacts on their relationships with friends or family. It can be very painful to watch loved one damage not only themselves but others around them through their drug or alcohol use and associated behaviours.
There are places to get help though and evidence-based drug and alcohol addiction treatment have been shown to be very effective at treating people with drug and alcohol problems.
The value of inpatient rehab
There are a number of treatment options but the most effective for people with serious addiction issues is inpatient drug and alcohol rehab. This takes you away from your usual environment, including all of the triggers, temptations, people and places associated with your usual patterns of drinking or drug use. It places you in a safe environment where you can focus on your recovery, with round the clock care and support.
You can go through potentially dangerous drug detox in a medically supervised detox clinic that will help you get through any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
You cannot force someone into rehab though and, even if you could, unless they participated fully in the treatment programme and really wanted to change by giving up drugs or alcohol, it would be very unlikely to work. So how do you get someone into inpatient rehab?
How to help someone addicted to drugs or alcohol
One of the most positive things you can do for someone with a drug or alcohol addiction is to help them get the treatment they need. Some people will already know that they need help and in this case, you can provide support and help them through their choices, by researching the treatment options available and helping them start the ball rolling. This could involve accompanying them to see their GP or calling a rehab treatment facility.
All too often though, substance use disorders such as addiction are accompanied by defensiveness and self-denial. In this case, you can help by trying to convince the person that they do have a serious problem and would benefit from drug addiction treatment.
Sign and Symptoms of addiction
Before suggesting that someone goes through alcohol detox or seek help for drug addiction, you will first need to identify the signs or symptoms.
Some symptoms of addiction like cravings and withdrawal symptoms will only be apparent to the person with the addiction but there will usually be signs that people around them will be able to observe, which could include:
- Witnessing them drinking or using drugs more
- Witnessing inappropriate or dangerous behaviour when intoxicated
- Secrecy and defensiveness around their substance use
- Mood swings and irritability
- Losing interest in other social activities
- Changing social circle to people involved with drinking or drug use
- Avoiding activities where they can’t drink or use drug
- Low-level illnesses and infections
- Valuables or money going missing
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Exhibiting regular signs of being hungover
- Depression and anxiety
- Tremors, slurred speech and impaired coordination
Some of these can be signs of other things but a number of them observed together could describe a pattern of addiction that may well require addiction recovery treatment services of some kind.
First steps to helping someone with an addiction
Rehab treatment and aftercare can be very effective but it often takes a lot of work to get to that point of the recovery process, especially if the person involved does not accept they have a problem or refuses to seek help.
The first step is almost always just talking to your loved one. This can be difficult and you might not know where to start but you should express your concerns without being judgemental if you can. Listen to what they have to say in return but don’t be dissuaded from saying what you need to.
What not to do
There are some things that can be counter-productive when it comes to trying to get someone close to you to accept that they have a problem and need alcohol or drug rehab.
Don’t enable the person by making excuses for their behaviour, laughing it off or even joining in with their drinking or drug use.
You shouldn’t supply them with drugs or alcohol but at the same time, hiding their drugs or alcohol is not usually effective either. This can inflame the situation and they can generally get more of the substance anyway.
Don’t feel responsible for the person’s behaviour and don’t put yourself in harm’s way. In some cases, it may be best to temporarily remove yourself, especially if there are children involved and the person’s behaviour is erratic or violent.
What to do if a loved one won’t accept help
There are only very limited circumstances where a person can be made to seek substance abuse treatment, such as during sentencing for a crime where substance abuse may be an underlying factor or during involuntary commitment (commonly known as ‘sectioning’) for a serious mental illness.
One way of helping a loved one to accept their problems and consider their need for drug or alcohol rehab could be staging an intervention.
This is when people – usually friends and family – get together to provide examples of the effect the person’s behaviour is having on them, offer support and suggest positive steps to take moving forward.
The process should be carefully planned and sensitively executed, however. It can be easy for such an event to get heated and confrontational, which can be counterproductive.
It is, therefore, better if any friend or family intervention is carried out in a structured way and preferably guided by a professional, as this will provide the best chance of successfully convincing the person who is addicted to drugs to seek the help they need.Back to all posts