Ways To Cope With A Family Member Who Is An Addict
Addiction is a complex relapsing brain disease characterized by the inability to stop using drugs despite the harmful consequences it may be causing. Drugs and alcohol essentially hijack a person’s brain. As a result, after continued use for a long time, they lose control over their actions and continue to use even when it’s affecting irrelationships with their friends and family.
How Do You Help a Family Member Addicted to Drugs?
It’s impossible to get someone to stop using drugs or even force them into treatment. That’s the thing, a lot of people don’t understand that until the addicted person admits they have a problem, treatment is going to be the furthest thing from their mind. However, once they do admit they have a problem, you will have a better chance of getting them to commit to treatment. There are some tips that family members can use to help them cope with the addict.
You have to learn as much as possible about the disease of addiction – Addiction is a brain disease and a person cannot just stop using drugs or alcohol. You should also learn as much as possible about the addict’s drug of choice or exactly what they are using. This can be of significant importance when it comes to overdosing, detoxing, withdrawal symptoms, and how you can help your loved one. There are a ton of resources online for addiction and different substances.
Connect with others that understand what you are going through – It is very important to connect with other people who are going through the same thing as you are; trying to cope and help a family member who is an addict. Al-Anon and Alateen are great places to find peer support. Go to meetings. It really helps when you know you aren’t alone in this fight. Family members need support just as much as the addict does. Plus this will help lower your stress levels and improve your psychological health.
Attend family therapy sessions – Family therapy sessions are vital. This is a place where each family member can voice their concerns and be heard. It can help family members understand each other as well. These sessions take time, but they are vital to the mental health of everyone involved.
Manage and have realistic expectations – Understand that treatment and recovery take time, and that relapse is common early in recovery. Don’t get upset or stressed out because changes aren’t being made overnight. Be patient and work together with the addict and other family members.
Get regular exercise – Exercise helps your entire well-being. It’s not only good for you physically, but it also helps reduce stress and depression as well.
Do something relaxing that makes you happy – You’ve got to continue to take care of yourself through this. Take the time and do something you enjoy. Something that fulfills you and makes you happy.
Maintain a consistent and good sleep schedule – Again you have to make sure you are taking care of yourself through all of this. You can’t help support and care for someone else if you aren’t getting adequate sleep.
Attend private therapy sessions – Private therapy sessions are another vital part of coping and being able to support your addicted loved one. Therapy can provide relief from stress and things going on that have caused you severe anxiety and depression. In addition, therapy will give you the strength to continue supporting and helping the addict.
Educate and advocate – Educate and continue educating others on the disease of addiction. Continue to learn yourself to continue to educate others and advocate for the addict in your family. Speak up for the addict in your family that is suffering. It is brave and will have a positive impact on your community.
Coping with and trying to support an addict is extremely difficult and stressful. Sitting back and watching your loved one self-destruct when there is nothing you can do is devastating. The best thing you can do is educate yourself, get support through groups, attend therapy, and continue to take care of your mental and physical well-being. Hopefully, they will eventually wake up and admit they have a problem, and seek out treatment. Until then, you have to take care of yourself.
Addiction Significantly Affects The Entire Family
Addiction affects the individual that is addicted and significantly impacts a person’s entire family. The National Institute of Health “Family-focused practices in addictions: a scoping review protocol” states:
There is also an increasing awareness of the impact of addictions on individuals and on families with more than 100 million family members affected by a relative’s addiction. The addiction of a family member has many adverse effects for families such as high levels of distress, health problems, family conflict, domestic violence, child maltreatment, and financial precarity. Studies also report that the health costs for family members coping with the addiction of a significant other are considerably higher than family members who do not have a family member with an addiction. Despite the negative impact on families, addiction treatment has historically focused on the individual. Csiernik described family-focused services as the ‘neglected aspect of addiction treatment’ and other researchers have stated that service providers view family members as ‘adjuncts’ and they are not perceived as an integral part of addiction treatment. This creates a significant barrier to family involvement in addictions. (NIH)
As stated above, often the family isn’t involved in the treatment of their loved one, but family members and even close friends have a significant impact on their loved one’s recovery.
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Evoke Wellness rehab centers assist men, women, and families throughout the United States struggling with substance abuse and searching for addiction treatment. Our premier treatment centers offer a comprehensive approach to treating substance abuse with multiple levels of care. If you have a loved one it is time they get the help they need and we can help them on their path to sobriety. It will be a long and sometimes hard path, but our specialists are there to help and know what they are doing. Their sober life begins now!