If your loved one has an addiction, you struggle with feelings of anger, fear, and resentment. You might feel confused and are unsure of what you should do. The good news is there are things you can and should definitely do if you think your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol; things that will help that person. The not so good news is it will take a lot of hard work and dedication on your part and the part of the addict for them to get well. It will be well worth it in the end, though, when your loved one comes away from this a clean and sober individual.
Symptoms of Addiction
The first thing you should do is learn about your loved one’s addiction. What kinds of substances have they been using? How long have they been using? What symptoms are they showing? Below is a list of common symptoms you are likely to see with substance abuse and addiction:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Insomnia or sleeping more than normal
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Deterioration in personal grooming
- Change in physical appearance
- Unexplained injuries/accidents
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
- Shakes or tremors
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
- Unexplained financial problems
- Sudden change in relationships, friends, and hobbies
Once you know that your loved one is using drugs or alcohol, do your research. Find out how these substances are affecting your loved one, and how their addiction should be treated. You should also enlist the help of professionals to find out what treatment programs are available, what they cost, and how soon the center can get your loved one in. Finding the right treatment facility is challenging, but it is important to choose one that will meet your loved one’s needs instead of settling for the first program you find. Ask questions of the treatment staff to learn about the program, its philosophy, and its ability to customize a program for your loved one.
Confronting Your Loved One
Now it is time to talk to your loved one. If you are confronting the person for the first time, remember to be open, but not accusing. Be firm, but understanding. Let your loved one know you and the family care about them, and you will not accept any answer except yes to treatment. If you have tried this approach before and failed, consider enlisting the help of an intervention specialist to walk you through a positive confrontation.
As your loved one enters rehab, they will need your support more than ever. You can participate in family therapy sessions, talk with the treatment team working with your loved one, and work things out in your own life. You should remove any alcohol or drug paraphernalia from the home and try to remove any triggers as well. You can also do your best to make your loved one’s return home as stress-free as possible, as they ease back into everyday life. Ensure only positive people are hanging around, because your loved one will need all the support they can get at first.
Take Care of Yourself
Finally, you can’t make anyone change, and if your loved one refuses to get help, you still need to take care of yourself. Find a support group like Al-anon, or talk to your own therapist to help you work through the issues in your own life, especially how to interact with your addicted loved one.