No one wants to face the possibility that a spouse, a friend, or a family member they love is struggling with an addiction, but the truth is many people in our society are. The fear of stigma and our ability to look away is actually causing much more harm than good in the United States, as the number of people who die from alcohol poisonings or opioid overdoses increases every year.
If you believe someone you love may be affected by substance abuse, now is the time to consider how serious the issue really is and to seek help.
Recognizing Addiction in a Loved One
The signs of addiction can seem difficult to pinpoint at first, but mostly, they revolve around a change in behavior, physical appearance, and attitude, most of which is caused by the individual’s drug use becoming more important to them than anything else. Over time, drugs change the way a person’s brain works so they can no longer decide when they should and shouldn’t use. They will instead want to do it all the time and will put everything second to this uncontrollable need.
Someone who has become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol may start to
- Shirk their responsibilities in favor of using more
- Perform worse at school, work, etc.
- Use money meant for other things on drugs and/or alcohol
- Spend more time alone in order to use
- Act secretively, not wanting to tell you where they’ve been or with whom
- Spend time with different people, often those with whom they can use
- Become disinterested in activities that once mattered to them
They may also develop strange patterns of eating, sleeping all day or not at all, and failing to take care of themselves. In many cases, they will experience physical issues and illnesses related to their substance abuse. If all these problems begin to occur and the individual refuses to put an end to their substance abuse, they are probably already addicted.
What Can I Do?
One of the ways a loved one of a suspected addict can help is to stage an intervention. Interventions are group meetings of several people who care about the addict and want to see them get better. Interventions can provide these individuals the chance to tell the addict how they really feel about their substance abuse and to urge them to seek treatment. Remember, though, if you do choose to stage an intervention, it’s best to seek a treatment program out beforehand so the individual won’t be able to promise to get help and then not follow through.
Addiction is a disease that can be treated. Accepting that someone you care about has been affected by this problem can be difficult, even devastating, but the important thing to remember is that recovery is possible. With the proper professional care, your loved one can put an end to their substance abuse and start living a healthier, happier life again.