It is difficult to watch a family member or a friend suffer from a drug misuse disorder. No matter if it is alcohol, street drugs, or prescription medication, addictions can be deadly. As a friend, it is essential to offer support. Indeed, it is vital to learn how to reach out and how to comfort an addict. At Northern Illinois Recovery, we are a rehab facility that can help.
Effects of Drug Misuse
In fact, a friend or a family member experiences extreme stress while watching a loved one struggle with addiction. Many times, a friend or a family member loses his or her patience, strains his or her bank account, and is filled with frustration and guilt. To be sure, a person ponders the risks of overdose and the amount of damage that is done to this person’s body. A friend or a family member is burdened by the need to support this person as well. Frustration builds from failed attempts in rehab. Also, there are times when a loved one must cover for the person’s neglect of everyday responsibilities.
A 2017 research study found that 46 percent of American adults claim that they have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. In fact, the amount of prescription painkillers has boomed over the last ten years. As a result, this country is in the middle of an opioid crisis.
Both recreational and prescription medicine can lead to addiction, which affects people from all backgrounds. Furthermore, it tears people apart. Fortunately, help is available. Indeed, it is impossible to force a person into rehab. However, it is essential to provide love and support so that recovery is possible. It is vital to set boundaries so that personal health does not suffer as well.
Why Does My Friend Do Drugs?
Individuals take drugs for many reasons. Some use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with physical pain. Also, some people take drugs to deal with emotional distress. In fact, depression and anxiety are two big reasons why many individuals self medicate. Other people use drugs to fit in or to eliminate boredom. When a person is not satisfied with his or her life, drugs and alcohol mask the problems. Finally, some people receive prescriptions for legitimate health issues and misuse them.
In reality, no one knows the cause of addiction. However, genetics and environmental factors may be part of the puzzle. No matter the reason, friends on drugs can leave a person feeling powerless.
Certainly, it may take time to recognize that a friend or a family member is caught in a drug misuse disorder. In young people, drug misuse symptoms mimic regular adolescent behavior, especially moodiness. Also, your friend or family member may be good at hiding his or her problems.
Signs of a Substance Misuse Disorder
- Experiencing Problems at Work, Home, or School. When drug problems become severe, a person may miss days from school or work. Also, he or she may neglect home responsibilities. Family or relationship problems often develop as well. When the issues escalate, a person may lose a job or a get divorced.
- Developing Health Problems. Drug misuse causes a long list of health problems. For example, a person may develop sleep difficulties, extreme fatigue, weight loss, and cognition problems. Nosebleeds and shaking are two pronounced physical symptoms as well.
- Mood/Behavior Changes. A person with a drug misuse disorder may become very sensitive and begin to lie about his or her behavior. Also, his or her anger may escalate quickly. When heavy drug use occurs, a person may isolate himself or herself and become sad. Personal appearance and hygiene may suffer as well.
- Financial Difficulties. Indeed, a drug habit is expensive. A person does anything possible to get more. As a result, he or she borrows money or fills credit cards to keep the habit alive.
How to Confront an Addict
Beginning a conversation with a person who has a substance misuse disorder is always challenging. However, it is essential to use compassion and patience. It is vital to keep in mind that nobody enjoys being in the middle of a drug or alcohol problem. Indeed, drug misuse is often an attempt to cope with pain or mental issues. High levels of stress feed poor behavior as well. Therefore, a person should carefully approach a friend or a family member who has this type of problem. Criticism or shame should not be involved.
When an individual first discovers that a friend or a loved one is dealing with the disorder, he or she may be shocked, angry, and afraid. Furthermore, it is devastating to learn that a child is using drugs. It is crucial to talk when both parties are calm, sober, and free from distractions. Without judgment, a person should offer help and support.
Talking to Someone about Addiction Problems
- Do Not Hesitate. It is not wise to wait until a loved one hits rock bottom to extend a hand for help. Talking without delay can prevent this person from losing a job, getting arrested, or overdosing.
- Use Honesty. While having a discussion, it is essential to emphasize care and worry. In fact, when a person provides examples of the behavior that is related to drug use, it can be helpful. When you show honest concern, it may catch the person’s attention.
- Don’t Do All the Talking. Indeed, listening is as important as talking. A person should listen to what the other one is saying. No matter the words, there should be no arguing. To be sure, when a person feels heard, he or she is more likely to seek help.
- Provide Information. When a person does research about how to address a drug issue, it makes it easier to get help. For example, having phone numbers and resources available will help a person reach out for assistance with a trusted organization or counselor.
- Don’t Be Shocked by Denial. Normally, it is quite common for a person who is battling a drug misuse disorder to deny a problem. To emphasize, this is completely normal. Shame is often a part of addiction that keeps a person from admitting the problem.
- Avoid Anger. Obviously, a person is mad, sad, and frustrated when he or she discovers that a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol. During confrontation, it is essential to avoid anger, judgments, and threats.
- Remember, One Conversation Will Not Solve the Problem. Although a person gets the courage to confront a loved one with a drug misuse disorder, the problem will not be solved with one talk. In fact, there is no quick fix for this type of issue. It may take several attempts to make a person admit that an issue exists. However, it is worth perseverance so that he or she takes the first step to recovery.
How to Support a Person’s Recovery
Recovery is a long and arduous process. Indeed, there are ups and downs along the way. It is essential to understand that the person who is struggling with a drug misuse disorder must take responsibility for his or her behavior. However, it is possible to offer support throughout the process.
- Adjust Expectations. To be sure, recovery is difficult for everyone. A person may not be successful the first time. Setting expectations too high will set everyone up for failure. The goals are seeking help and trying to maintain sobriety.
- Encouragement. Having a high-level of support makes it easier to seek help. Having professional guidance raises the chances of having a successful recovery. Offering encouragement through this process is vital. For example, a person can go with a friend to a counseling session or a group meeting.
- Help with Triggers and Cravings. Many times, a person will learn positive ways to cope with cravings and triggers throughout treatment. As a friend, it is important to help by providing distractions when times get tough. For example, it is a nice gesture to take a person out to dinner after a rough day at work or to sit and be present when an individual feels like giving up.
Explain Treatment Options
At facilities like Northern Illinois Recovery, there are various forms of help available. By learning about the options, it can help to guide a friend in the right direction. For example, there are inpatient and outpatient programs. The first step is detox, or getting the substances out of the body. The next step involves counseling and therapy. Both individual sessions and group meetings may be utilized. To be sure, family therapy is beneficial as well. In certain cases, medication is prescribed to deal with underlying mental illnesses. In the end, a person gains additional support from peers.
Setting Personal Boundaries
To repeat, dealing with a person who has a misuse disorder is not all about this individual. It is crucial to set personal boundaries. Without these guidelines, it is possible to keep enabling the person’s behavior. It is often difficult to deliver tough love, but it is an essential part of the healing process. A person must face the consequences of his or her actions and have internal motivation to change for the better.
- Do not allow a user’s paraphernalia in the home
- Do not cover for a person’s poor behavior
- Require the individual to pay his or her bills without offering him or her money
- Insist on being treated with respect at all times
Connect with Northern Illinois Recovery
At Northern Illinois Recovery, we are ready to help individuals who battle drug misuse disorders. We recognize the toll that it takes on families and friends. We have a variety of treatment programs that best fit the needs of our patients. Our multiple therapy options target the root of problems so that each individual can return to sobriety in the long-term. For more information about how to help a friend with drug addiction, give us a call today.