America has a severe drug abuse problem. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), over 20 million people suffer from substance use disorders annually. There’s nothing worse than seeing a loved one struggling with addiction. However, it can be difficult to get them help if they don’t even realize they have an addiction problem.
Most people react negatively when told they have a drug problem, so talking to your family member or friend about rehab may only alienate them. However, giving up isn’t an option because getting them into a treatment program is essential for their well-being. If you’re wondering how to help someone with addiction, use these tips from the experts at Resurgence Riverside to tactfully talk to your loved one about rehab and get them the help they need.
Learn About the Disease of Addiction
Many people believe addicts have a fundamental personality weakness that makes them unable to control their drug use. If you hold this belief, you may approach the conversation about your loved one’s drug addiction with anger rather than compassion and understanding. Consequently, your family member or friend may become defensive, making it more difficult for them to seek treatment.
Understanding the true nature of addiction can make the conversation about rehab with your loved one more fruitful.
What Is Addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recognizes addiction as a chronic medical condition that leads to compulsive drug abuse. People with addiction can’t control their impulse to acquire and use drugs.
Addiction can escalate to substance use disorder (SUD), a chronic disease that develops when an addict can’t stop using drugs despite the impact on their personal, professional and social life. Addiction specialists use case-by-case information to diagnose people with mild or severe SUD.
Facts About Substance Use Disorder
While anyone can be an addict, NCDAS statistics show that not everyone who tries drugs develops an SUD. About 70% of people who try drugs before they’re 13 years old develop an SUD, while only 27% who start using illegal drugs before they’re 17 develop one.
Factors such as gender, genetics, mental illness and environmental conditions can also contribute to your loved one’s struggle with addiction. For example, more men than women misuse prescription and illicit drugs. Moreover, people living in metropolitan areas are more likely to have an SUD than those living in rural areas.
Empower Your Loved One
While addiction is chronic and compulsive, it’s not untreatable. However, addiction treatment is successful only if someone sees its value. Empowering rather than guilting your loved one into pursuing treatment options for addiction is a more effective strategy.
Don’t tell a person struggling with addiction to seek treatment to prove how much they love you. Instead, let them own the recovery process by:
- Helping them research local treatment facilities but allowing them to pick where to go
- Assuring them of your continued support while offering them space to explore treatment programs independently
- Listening patiently without dismissing their complaints or struggles with addiction and recovery
Set Realistic Expectations
Substance use disorder is a serious mental and physical condition, so expecting your family members or friends to begin treatment just because you told them to is unrealistic.
Expect your loved one to balk at the suggestion that they have a drug abuse problem. Some people may walk away to end the conversation, while others may threaten or inflict physical danger because they don’t want to face their substance use.
Setting realistic goals sets both you and your loved one up for success. You should:
- Broach the topic when your loved one is in a good mood.
- Keep the conversation short, leading with “I” statements to ensure your loved one doesn’t become defensive.
- End the conversation and walk away if it becomes confrontational.
- Be prepared to have the conversation multiple times before your loved one pays attention.
Understand Codependency and Enabling
We have the instinct to protect loved ones from physical and psychological pain. Many people with struggling loved ones tend to minimize the problem or rescue them from the negative consequences of their addictive behaviors.
Have you lied to your loved one’s boss about why they didn’t show up to work? Do you make excuses for their behavior in front of friends and family members just to hide the fact that they have a drug problem? Maybe you frequently offer financial assistance to bail them out of legal troubles.
When having the conversation about rehab, tell your loved one what you’ve done to cover up their addiction, apologize for enabling them and make it clear you won’t be doing it any longer. Such confessions may help your loved one recognize the severity of their problem and how it affects the people they love. If nothing else, your loved one may be more willing to seek treatment once they face social, professional and legal consequences for their actions.
Prepare for a Lifelong Recovery Journey
Entering a rehab program is the first step in a long process. Your loved one will have a lot of ups and downs during recovery and need your support more than ever. Acknowledge your loved one’s efforts, congratulating them on achieving even seemingly minor milestones.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so look after your mental health first. You can get individual therapy or join in-person and online support groups for friends and family members of addicts. Having a robust support system will give you a place to cry, vent and celebrate personal successes as you provide your loved one with recovery support.
Know the Signs of Drug Abuse Relapse
Up to 60% of drug and alcohol addicts relapse, which means your loved one may relapse at some point. Knowing the warning signs can help you have another difficult conversation before they fully regress to their pre-treatment condition.
Some signs of relapse include:
- Erratic changes in mood, including anxiety and spontaneous anger
- Irregular eating and sleeping habits
- Inability to concentrate on work or family responsibilities
- Ending rehab, therapy or their addiction support group
- Worsening mental health state that leads to withdrawing from social and familial engagement
- Poor personal hygiene
- Actual drug abuse
Developing a relapse plan that involves calling a trusted sponsor or therapist and re-enrolling in a treatment facility can save your loved one’s substance abuse problem from worsening.
Seek Professional Guidance and Treatment
Getting the help of addiction specialists can teach you how to help someone with addiction. Professionals will provide you with resources for talking about rehab, including explanations that can make the addiction treatment process less intimidating for your loved one.
You can find professional guidance and treatment resources for addiction at Resurgence Riverside in Riverside, California. We offer quality addiction treatment therapies, including treatment for co-occurring disorders that contribute to substance misuse. You and your loved ones may use family therapy sessions to address the familial effects of substance abuse.
Contact us today to get you and your loved one the help you need.