Addiction recovery is a journey that must be willingly undertaken by those who have forfeited much of their lives to substance use. It takes strength, perseverance, and willpower. But what about the people whose loved ones are struggling? Those closest to substance abusers witness their suffering, experiencing emotional and sometimes physical damage to themselves merely by being in proximity. GateHouse Treatment has years of experience with patients’ families and loved ones asking what they can do to help or what they could have done sooner. The answer is getting informed.
Addition Recovery: What Does it Mean to Be an Addict?
Substance abuse that culminates in addiction is a consumption pattern that leads to clinically significant impairment or distress. Look for three or more of the following behaviors at any time in the same 12-month period:
- The need to increase amounts of a substance to achieve the desired level of intoxication
- Withdrawal symptoms during times without the substance
- The substance is taken in more significant quantities or over a more extended period than intended
- Increased time and resources spent in activities to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from the effects of the substance
- Neglect of social, occupational, or recreational activities
Medical experts agree that addiction or substance abuse disorder (SUD) is a disease. However, it still carries a stigma for the SUD sufferer and those around them. Parents, family, friends, and others close to the addict are often at a loss for what to do in the face of addiction. They often blame themselves or each other for what they perceive as a failure on the part of those close.
But while many factors contribute to addiction, addiction does not cause a person’s behavior or poor decisions any more than someone in their family or close circle. The likelihood of becoming an addict is different for everyone, and many people have risk factors that make them more susceptible, such as:
- Genetic makeup
- Parental influences
- Home environment
- Social influences
- Psychological condition
Most addicts begin the path toward chronic drug use voluntarily and recreationally. Continued drug use, however, impairs self-control and judgment and causes harmful behavior in many cases.
Studies of the brains of addicted individuals show physical changes which affect judgment and behavior control and can cause other behavioral impingements. However, “no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted.”
Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk. “Risk and protective factors may be either environmental or biological.” Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disease. Parents, family, and friends must find a way to help without enabling and codependency.
Addiction Enabling: The Enemy of Recovery
Enabling occurs when loved ones unintentionally support substance abuse through their behaviors or wrongfully placed support, such as:
- Providing money despite knowing the addict will purchase materials needed for further abuse
- Ignoring unusual behaviors or actions in the hopes that they’ll stop by their determination
- Failing to report dangerous or harmful acts, such as stealing from family members or friends, due to legal or social implications that could hurt the addict
Such behaviors protect the user from experiencing consequences and can delay or prevent the addict from seeking treatment. Drug enabling is a symptom of a more significant problem: substance codependency.
Addiction Recovery: What is Codependency?
Codependency is a term used in relationships when each person involved is mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually reliant on the other. Most often associated with romantic partners, codependent relationships between family members and friends are also common. Signs of substance codependency include:
– Having a sense of “walking on eggshells” to avoid conflict with the other person
– Feeling the need to check in with the other person and ask permission to do daily tasks
– Often being the one who apologizes – even if you have done nothing wrong
– Feeling sorry for the other person, even when they hurt you
– Doing anything for the other person, even if it makes you uncomfortable
– Putting the other person on a pedestal, regardless of whether they merit the praise
– Struggling to find any time for yourself, especially when all your free time goes to the other person
– Feeling as if you’ve lost a sense of yourself within the relationship
Self-awareness is the first step in overcoming codependent tendencies. To help your loved one, you must know what is best for you, which can be done independently or with help.
5 Ways to Help an Addict Through Recovery
If you are researching ways to help your loved one through their addiction and recovery journey, here are five ways to do so:
- Get Informed and Know the Signs– The first step to guiding them to a better path is learning about addiction, its signs, and how to help your loved one.
- Arrange a Drug Intervention– An intervention is “action taken to improve a situation, especially a medical disorder.” Intervention for alcohol or drugs is a process where an addict’s family members and close friends, with the help of a professional interventionist, can show the addict their destructive behavior and present immediate plans for treatment. Like most addiction centers, GateHouse Treatment can help with interventions.
- Participate in an Addiction Treatment Family Program– When someone with substance abuse problems gets help, the family can learn more by immersing themselves in the addiction and recovery world. The best way to feel less alone is by being exposed to the similar experiences of others.
- Encourage Addiction Treatment– Addiction treatment is the best way to recover and start a new life for your loved one. There are as many treatments as there are different addictions, so take the time to find the treatment that will work best for them.
- Stay Connected Through Their Recovery– Commitment to help them through recovery and continuing maintenance is necessary. The recovering addicts may initially experience withdrawal symptoms and the need to relapse, but being close during this draining experience is helpful and motivational for all involved.
GateHouse Treatment is Here for Your Loved One and You
Recovery is difficult for people with addictions and their loved ones. But with the right tools, therapy, and the will to make a change, we know everyone can make it. GateHouse also encourages rehab support family weekends, which consist of days and nights our licensed family therapists schedule. During the program, you and your family will learn about yourselves and your loved ones and how best to support their recovery.
Contact us today with any questions or concerns. GateHouse Treatment is here to help you!
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