Addiction destroys lives and relationships. It has a massive body count and has stolen futures of those with the addiction and their immediate circle of friends and family. Addiction can also be impossible to battle on your own. Between chemical dependency and the fact that many addictions start as a way to soothe another issue (mental, emotional, or situational) can put the challenges towards sobriety on an unsurmountable mountain.
That is why friends and family are key in helping someone suffering from an addiction recover. Knowing the signs and how you can help is more important than you think, so familiarize yourself with the symptoms and the actions you take to help your loved one:
Signs of an Alcohol Addiction
The typical signs of alcohol addiction include:
- Frequent blackouts or memory loss after heavy drinking
- Extreme mood swings
- Excuse after excuse for their drinking
- Drinking to avoid other responsibilities
- They have become isolated from friends or family
- They frequently drink alone or in secret
- Their hobbies, responsibilities, and even personal hygiene have become lax
- They have new friends who exhibit the same signs of alcoholism
Dangers of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is dangerous, and very few alcoholics will ever seek out treatment and are instead in denial.
In the US, there are an estimated 15 million people who struggle with alcohol addiction, and only around 10% are seeking out treatment. Not only does this addiction cause organ failure and death, but there is also a high body count, with one-third of traffic fatalities in any given year due to drunk driving.
Signs of a Drug Addiction
There are many different types of drugs, and many are addictive. What is more worrying is that the drugs that make up the bulk of addictions are not illegal. The opioid crisis we are experiencing right now is evidence of how dangerous prescription drugs can also be when prescribed haphazardly, even for patients with ongoing pain.
Signs of drug addiction include:
- Growing tolerance to the drug
- Change in behavior and mood
- Change in economic status
- Physical symptoms (changes depending on the drug)
- Loss of interest in hobbies, friends, etc.
- New dangerous circles
- Risk-taking behavior
Some drug users are highly functioning and do not see the problem in their behavior because, in at least one area of their life, they are excelling. An intervention is necessary to understand their behavior clearly as bad in these cases.
Dangers of Drug Addictions
In the US, just under 20 million people suffer from a drug addiction, and almost 75% of those with a drug addiction also have a dependency on alcohol. Of those 20 million, only 38% of drug addicts are addicted to illegal substances, highlighting the danger and impact of prescription drugs. 8.5 millions of those 20 million have co-occurring disorders and suffer from a mental health illness that makes it even more difficult for addicts to seek out help and stay sober on their own.
The full cost of drug abuse in the US averages out to around $740 billion every year when you take in the physical costs of healthcare, as well as the cost to police these addictions and loss of productivity at work.
What You Can Do to Help
Knowing the signs and the dangers of addiction is the first step because you can only help and provide guidance when you know exactly what it is that your loved one is suffering from. Once you do that, you will want to:
1. Get Support for Yourself
You are in unfamiliar territory, and you have likely already felt the biting side effects of your loved one’s addiction first-hand. Seeking out help and guidance from support groups can help you stay strong, protect your wellbeing, and give you great advice on how to proceed with helping your loved one. It should be the first step so that you do not bear the brunt of your loved one’s addiction alone.
2. Host an Intervention
Every intervention is unique, but general strategies that you can use are to bring all their loved ones together, lay down your evidence and how their addiction has affected you and their life, and provide steps they can take to change. You do not need them to agree right that second, but you do need them to listen and be willing to think about it. Though in extreme circumstances, you can force them to get help, you want to help them long before it reaches hospitalization.
3. Get Them the Help They Need
If they agree to get help for their addiction, then the best place to turn to is an addiction recovery center like Harris House. What sets centers like Harris House apart is the flexible approach they take to recovery, which includes both inpatient, outpatient, and transitional housing programs to get those suffering from addiction back up on their feet with the tools they need to stay sober
4. Support Them Through Recovery
The addiction center will likely request you to help them through their recovery, and become more involved as time goes on. There may be family therapy sessions to attend, visiting hours to go to, and ways you can help your loved one stay sober right at home.
5. Help Them Build Healthier Coping Mechanisms
Most addictions begin to mask pain. Opiate addictions are born from pain, but not all pain is going to be physical. You need to help get your loved one the ongoing help they need for the underlying issues they face and help them stay sober. The best way to do this, other than assisting them to continue their outpatient treatment, is to help them build up healthier hobbies and habits. Exercise more together, cook healthy meals, find wholesome hobbies to adopt. Your loved one needs healthy replacements for their addiction, and that is where you can shine and really provide them the guidance, they need to stay healthy.