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What to Do When a Family Member Has an Addiction

Addiction has a profoundly adverse effect on a broad scale, from individuals dealing with it to their family members and friends. No one in an addict’s life is safe from the clutches of alcohol and drug dependency, which is why it’s crucial to combat it in any way possible. Of course, this is easier said than done, and it’s not something that an individual can overcome on their own. It’s up to an addict’s family members to aid them in their journey to a new chapter in their life.

But, what’s the best way to go about helping someone with a substance dependency?

Identifying Addiction

Before setting a plan into action, you need to identify if your family member is struggling with substance abuse. There are many telltale signs of dependency, but the most prominent are: 

  • Becoming Secretive: An afflicted individual may feel ashamed of their dependency, so they may develop secretive behavior such as sneaking out to obtain drugs or alcohol or lying about usage.
  • Anti-Social Behavior: Someone suffering from drug or alcohol abuse may withdraw from family and friends. Look out for signs that your family member is becoming more socially withdrawn by no longer participating in activities they enjoy, spending less time with friends and family, and if they’re beginning to make less contact with the outside world.
  • Risky Behavior: Dependency also increases a person’s risk-taking behavior. Look out for newly-developed dangerous habits such as driving under the influence or stealing money to buy alcohol or drugs. 
  • Noticeable Behavioral Changes: Things like an increased or decreased appetite, irritability, impulsiveness, and developed anxiety or depression are signs that someone may be struggling with an abuse problem.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: When someone becomes addicted, they may begin to neglect their everyday responsibilities such as going to work or cleaning and may even become emotionally unavailable to family members. 

Seeing these signs develop in a family member is never easy, but it’s vital to see the addiction so that you can begin to help the individual on their road to recovery. 

How to Help a Family Member Who is Suffering from Addiction 

Helping someone with a substance dependency needs to be broken down into steps, and even then, some things may not work for specific individuals; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, these things can certainly get the ball rolling and may even help you identify the best approach for your situation.

Make Sure You’re Informed 

You can’t just repeatedly tell a family member that you think they need help because there’s a high probability that they already know this and have also already been told by someone else. Approaching the situation blindly will only lead to more distress within the individual, so you must educate yourself on addiction and develop a viable plan to present to your family member. 

Some of the best ways to learn more about substance abuse include: 

  • Reading information from trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 
  • Attending a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and similar support groups to hear from people’s real-life experiences. 
  • Call and speak with treatment centers in your area to learn more about recovery programs and how they can help an individual. 

When you approach your family member with real solutions and advice, they’ll be more likely to listen and receive your help. It may also help to relay this information to other family members to bring an educated support system to the individual.

Be Empathetic Toward Your Family Member

As mentioned, dependency can give way to feelings of embarrassment, shame, and anxiety, making it hard for an individual to open up to family about their problem. Additionally, finding out that someone close to you is abusing substances may bring you feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, and resentment. While you may feel these things, there is only one feeling that you should approach your family member with, and that’s empathy. Adopting a position of compassion is the best way to help an addicted individual because it will make them feel more comfortable opening up to you about their problem. 

Someone struggling with addiction may feel lonely because they’re afraid that if they reach out, they may lose their family, their job, and their life will start to spiral out of control. This is why empathy is so important; it contains the situation and helps ease your loved one into the recovery process without feeling judged. 

Expect to Face Difficulty

The road to recovery can be bumpy at times, and it can feel discouraging not just for the addicted individual but also for family and friends. It’s essential to prepare for hiccups during the process and find ways to get around them to avoid losing momentum. Your family member may show signs of denial at first, and they may refuse help. Don’t take this personally and give up before you’ve started; they need your help, and you should do what you can to convince them to listen. 

Alternatively, they may be willing to receive support at first, then relapse during the process. This may be a damaging blow to their recovery, but remember that things take time, and a relapse doesn’t mean that they want to give up on getting better. Instead, reinforce your position of empathy and help them get through their relapse so that they can keep tackling their addiction.

Seek Professional Help from Ardu Recovery Center

Identifying addiction and setting the groundwork for recovery is crucial to the next step, which is admitting your loved one to a reputable recovery center like Ardu Recovery Center in Provo, Utah. We work around the clock to give residents the care and support they need to get their lives back on track through holistic and medical therapies and our state-of-the-art detox and residential treatment center. Give us a call today if you know someone who could benefit from our services; we’re more than happy to give you and your family all the information needed to get them started on the recovery process.