Addiction is exceptionally common in the United States, and the National Institutes of Healthreports that American adults have a one in ten chance of developing a drug use disorder at some point during their lifetime.
The high prevalence of substance abuse means that there’s a very good chance that you have at least one family member, friend, neighbor, teammate or co-worker who is currently struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Watching someone you care about deal with drug addiction can be tough, and while you can’t control their behavior, you can let them know you’re there for them.
Here are some of the things you can do when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol:
Learn about addiction
If you’re like most people, you may feel somewhat in the dark when it comes to understanding the complex physical, psychological, emotional and sociological issues behind drug and alcohol addiction. Up until recently, substance abuse was widely misunderstood, and both the general public and medical professionals often thought of addictions as merely a behavioral issue.
We now know that substance abuse disorder is a complex, chronic disease, one for which there is currently no known cure. People with SUD experience significant changes in their brain that affect their ability to process information, make sound decisions and control cravings for drugs and alcohol.
Take the time to learn about addiction and how it affects not only the person who is using drugs and alcohol, but their family, friends and community. This knowledge will help you recognize the signs that the individual is in crisis, and you’ll also be able to have meaningful conversations with the addicted person that are based in understanding and compassion.
Don’t confront them while they are drunk or high
If you decide to confront someone about their addiction, never do so while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Always wait until they are sober, and have that conversation in a safe, quite place where alcohol isn’t readily available.
Find out where to go for help
Another important step you can take to support an individual who is addicted is to learn where they can go to get help.
While you can’t control if, or when, your loved one will decide they want to enter a detox facilityor enter a substance abuse treatment program, you can be prepared with a list of resources should they ask for assistance. This list could include their family physician, the local 12-step program, and the intake counselor at a residential drug rehab and treatment facility.
To learn more about what you can do when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, contact our addiction and recovery specialists here at the Hickory Recovery Network.