Do you have a friend or family member who is struggling with substance abuse?
As much as you love them, their behavior can still be baffling. Their self-destructive actions just don’t make any sense. How can you help them if you don’t even feel like you’re dealing with the person you used to know?
The first step is to learn some key things about addiction.
There are so many myths out there about what it means to be dependent on drugs and alcohol. If you don’t have the right information, you can end up doing more harm than good.
No matter how much support someone has, battling substance abuse is still an uphill climb. But, knowing some facts will allow you to be a more effective source of encouragement to them. It will also give you some comfort and peace.
Even though addiction is everywhere, it’s poorly understood. Do you have a loved one with an addiction? Here are 7 addiction facts they wish you knew.
1. You Don’t Have to Wait for Rock Bottom to Help
Some misinformation people have accepted as fact is that addicts will get help once they’ve reached rock bottom.
The “rock bottom” myth is a dangerous one for addicts.
You don’t have to wait to for someone to hit rock bottom before you intervene. An addict doesn’t have to wait for rock bottom to get treatment. Getting help before that lowest point is much more effective.
Plus, not every addict gets the chance to reach that point.
Fentanyl is a drug that is 20 to 40 times more toxic than heroin. But, in recent years it’s been circulating on the streets masquerading as heroin.
Accidental overdoses of fentanyl have been on the rise. It can kill any addict at any stage of their addiction. That’s another reason why early invention is key.
2. A Relapse isn’t a Failure
Recovery is a long and bumpy road, and sometimes, addicts will slip up. Relapsing, or “falling off the wagon” is actually pretty common.
Between 40-60% of people relapse within their first year of recovery. But, after they hit that year marker, they’re not cured and in the clear.
Addiction is a complex disease, and some people have an easier time than others. However, it’s important to remember that a relapse isn’t a failure. In fact, it can be a moment that teaches them about themselves and what triggers usage.
Any serious attempt at sobriety is a success.
3. Some Treatments Don’t Work for Everyone
Another myth is that there is only one road to recovery. 12-step programs are usually the only treatment the general public knows about. However, there are all different methods available.
One method that works for one person might not work for another.
Are you planning an intervention and researching treatment options to present to them? Instead of just picking out one, open up the doors for other possibilities. Then together, you can talk about what they think will work best for them.
For example, if your loved one is addicted to opioids. Some treatment programs might suggest they go cold turkey. But, Medication-Assisted Treatment has been proven to be much more effective.
Don’t be afraid to try out different programs. If one doesn’t work, they can try something else until its the right fit.
4. They’re Suffering from a Disease
Though there are all sorts of reasons why people get addicted in the first place, understand that your loved one never wanted this.
Drug dependency can sneak up on someone fast. From there, the substance has taken hold and often changes their personality and ability to make good decisions.
They’re still the person you love. But, they are suffering from a disease. Cancer will change the body and it takes treatment to return it to normal.
Addiction has changed their brain chemistry, and it will take treatment to return it to normal.
5. Shaming Addicts Sober Doesn’t Work
Addicts can end up doing some terrible things. Lying, stealing, losing work, losing custody of their children, the list goes on. Those are all things that the compulsive need for drugs is driving them to do.
In your frustration and hurt, it can be easy to shame them. But, try to resist that knee-jerk reaction of scolding and guilt.
Support and communication are much more effective ways to help them get sober. Shaming them will usually cause them to isolate themselves. They might forge new bonds with other addicts who don’t judge their behavior.
This can cause them to go deeper into their addiction.
6. Supporting and Enabling Are Different
While you should give them support and compassion, it can be a fine line to walk. Desperately wanting to save them can cause a co-dependent relationship where you become an enabler.
What’s the difference between support and enabling?
Support is when you do something for an addict that they cannot do for themselves. For example, agreeing to drive them to work while they save up for a car.
You enable an addict when you help them avoid the consequences of their addiction. Maybe they totaled their car while high. Buying them a new car is enabling.
7. The Addict is the Only One Who Can Fix This
For your own sanity, you must remember that it’s only the addict who can kick the addiction.
Kicking substance dependency is a lot of work. It’s both emotional and physical. You can offer tons of healthy support, but they still have to do the hard part.
They might not be ready to do that yet. It’s a hard truth, but accepting that and not blaming yourself will give you some relief.
Understand Your Loved One with These Addiction Facts
Having a loved one who is in the throes of substance abuse is trying. Their behavior is often frustrating and hard to comprehend. These addiction facts will give you a better understanding of what they’re going through and how to help.
Did you like this article and want to read more? Then check out this blog to learn tips on how to enjoy the holidays while sober.