Every year, drug and alcohol treatment saves countless lives in the United States, turning what could have been a seriously negative situation into a positive one.
In some cases, treatment programs are entered into on a wholly voluntary basis. The individual assesses their life, takes a look at their habits and their actions, and recognizes they have a problem. From here, they simply take the steps they need to live a life free from addiction, often enlisting professional help along the way.
Other cases, however, may be more complicated than this. The nature of drug addiction makes it all too easy for victims to slip into phases of denial, or self delusion. They may not realize that they have a problem — or they might not want to realize it. What follows in these instances is a downward spiral of increased dependency and ever riskier behaviors.
So what happens in case like these; cases in which the individual is unwilling or unable to seek the treatment they so desperately need? It is down to another — usually a friend or family member — to make that call.
Naturally, this is a difficult issue, and potentially risky terrain upon which to tread. However, it is necessary. You owe it to your loved ones to do the best you can for them, just as they would owe it to you if the roles were reversed. With this in mind, inaction is impossible — something needs to be done.
This guide, prepared by the Pemarro team, is designed to help you understand this journey better, and to do the very best for those close to you.
How Do I Know If My Loved One Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol?
The key to knowing whether or not drugs and alcohol treatment is required comes down to a single word: 'problem'. Basically, is your loved one using drugs or alcohol to an extent that it is causing a problem in their life, or are they on a track towards experiencing severe problems?
These problems can manifest themselves in many different ways. Here are a few of the most common areas in which drug and alcohol abuse can start to take its toll on a life;
•Health and fitness — Drug and alcohol abuse ravages the body, making it even more difficult for an addict to maintain a good — or even a normal — level of fitness.
•Professional — Overuse of drugs and alcohol is a release from responsibility in and of itself, and so it can become difficult to adopt a responsible attitude towards work.
•Social — Drugs and alcohol lead to risky behavior and often to confrontation or neglect of friends and family, which, in turn, takes its toll on social life.
•Appearance — The ravages of drugs and alcohol can cause premature ageing and other negative effects that are evident in the individual's appearance.
•Psychological — A combination of the above, or the convergence of other factors, can cause serious depression and other psychological illness.
These are the areas in which your loved one's problems might begin to manifest themselves. It is in these areas that a casual — although still risky — habit can hit that tipping point, giving way to a genuine issue.
But what about the signs of drug or alcohol abuse? How can you tell — or begin to tell — when a problem exists, or when a problem is forming? There are no hard and fast rules here, and much of this depends on your knowledge of your loved one's personality, but there are some warning signs you can look out for:
•Drinking to the point of unconsciousness
•Drinking alcohol alone with frequency
•Repeated refills on prescription drugs
•Closer relationships with known or suspected drug dealers
•Attempts to conceal drug or alcohol consumption
•Legal issues arising from drinking and drug use
•Sudden deterioration in health or physical appearance
•Absences from work or missed school time due to drugs or alcohol
•Feelings of depression or evidence of risky or disturbing behavior
•Feeling unable to shake addiction or to bring substance abuse
•Shame and feelings of guilt stemming from alcohol and drug use
It should be noted that this is certainly not a complete list. However, this does provide a useful guide to the kinds of things you should be looking out for. Don't forget that the Pemerro team are on hand to provide you with assistance and guidance, so get in touch.
What Should I Do If I Notice Drug and Alcohol Symptoms in Loved Ones?
Noticing drug or alcohol addiction in your loved one is an important step in the process, but it is only the beginning of the journey. From here, you need to know what to do to get your loved one back on the right track.
Every case is different, of course, and no two individuals will respond to intervention like this in the same way. However, by following our general guide, you can bring about the best outcomes for someone you truly care about.
Avoid Judgement and CondescensionAll of us are human beings. All of us have made mistakes in our lives, or gone down the wrong avenue. Often, the circumstances we find ourselves in are as much a product of bad luck as bad choices. With this in mind, do not seek to judge or patronize a victim of addiction.
Instead, seek to understand. Speak to your loved one like the esteemed, respected, equal that they are. Demonstrate that this is a case of a friend or family member reaching out a hand of assistance, and nothing more.
Feelings of delusions, shame, and embarrassment; these elements can cloud the process. By speaking to your loved one as an equal, you are minimizing these unhelpful emotions, and taking steps towards something better and more positive.
Make It Clear That Seeking Treatment Is Not Weakness
This is something that needs to be understood — by both parties; you and your loved one — from the very beginning. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is a shrewd recognition of a problem and of a way to get out of such a problem — in short, it is a smart move.
The desire to avoid appearing weak or seeking assistance tends to make the spiral of addiction and abuse much deeper. Either we think we can handle the situation ourselves, or we bury our heads in the sand and we ignore the situation altogether, and all the while we grow more addicted and more dependent.
Reinforce this idea with your loved one: help and assistance are natural, they are necessary, and they represent the key which unlocks a life free from the horrors of addiction.
Work with Your Loved One to Recognize and Understand the Problem
The words 'understanding' and 'recognition' have cropped up time and time again in this guide. This is because they are fundamental elements on the road to freedom from addiction.
It is important that you work gently towards mutual understanding. You cannot chastize your loved one, or shame them into changing their situation. Instead, you need to understand the factors that have led them to this point, and work with them to form an understanding that you can both accept.
From here, recognition will follow, and you can begin to take the necessary steps towards treatment and subsequent freedom.
Consider Other Underlying Factors
It is important never to lose sight of other factors which may be at work. Drug addiction and alcoholism rarely exist in isolation. It is unusual that these illnesses and afflictions spring from nowhere. There may be other issues, such as underlying trauma, mental health problems, negative influence from peers, or other negative factors. Be prepared for this.
Let your loved one speak. They may have stories that they need to get off their chest, and this might help them to understand their situation a little more clearly. Together, the two of your can work through any demons they are battling and explore counseling and other services alongside drug rehab.
However, do not let your loved one explain away their troubles. Self medicating through alcohol, for example, is not a healthy way to deal with past trauma, just as drug use can never be viewed as way to cope with stress and anxiety. Understand these factors, but focus on healing and growth as your goal.
These things take time. As much as you would like to provide a quick fix for your loved one, and to get their life back on track sooner rather than later, this often will simply not be possible. By forcing or pushing the individual in the direction you feel is best for them, you might not be having the positive influence you expected, and you may be engendering more resistance and resentment in your loved one.
Think about it from their point of view. Which do you think would work best? Gentle encouragement and coaxing, or a more aggressive and urgent form of convincing? In almost every situation, the former is the better option.
Consider this when you sit down to talk things out with your loved one. Prepare yourself for a potentially long, but ultimately rewarding, journey.
Which Programs Are the Most Effective?
It is difficult to say precisely which program will work best in your situation, as no two cases are the same. At Pemarro, we provide a range of different programs and services designed to provide comprehensive treatment and detoxification services as you move towards a life free from the horrors of addiction.
These include the following:
Sub-Acute Medically Managed Detoxification
Detoxification must be overseen by an expert team of medical professionals. The process can be tough on the physical and psychological condition of the patient, and so, supervision is key.
As drug addiction and alcohol abuse are linked so inherently to psychiatric concerns, this sort of assessment is extremely important. A good quality psychiatric assessment will include screening and a co-occurring exam.
In some circumstances, a group counseling session with family members present is a positive exercise, helping people to work through their problems and to move towards a positive future as a family.
It may beneficial for your loved one to talk through their problems in a group, gaining inspiration and motivation from their peers as they battle against addiction.
As the name suggests, individual counseling is delivered on a one to one basis, with more direct attention given to the patient. Many find this to be the most effective means of beating addiction, but it can be deployed among other methods.
Continuum of Care Tailored to the Individual
Care is an ongoing thing. The battle against addiction is, similarly, an ongoing thing. Medical and rehabilitative teams need to work with patients to develop and ongoing system of care.
Referral and Transport to Next Level of Appropriate Care
A specific team or facility may not always be equipped to handle complete and comprehensive levels of care. However, all facilities will exist within the same network of care, and so referrals may be necessary to ensure that the patient has what he or she needs at all times.
What About Other Underlying Issues?
Drug and alcohol abuse are incredibly serious conditions; often more serious than many realize. The toll that these two forms of addiction take on the emotional, psychological, and physical state of the victim is enormous, and its extent may not be immediately evident.
As such, great care must be taken at all stages of the patient's drug and alcohol treatment procedure, to ensure that the patient's needs are being met, without fail and without exposing your loved one to any further suffering or danger.
At Pemarro, we employ a skilled team of advisors who are on hand to give you the support you need at each and every step. It is easy to forget about yourself when you are offering help to a loved one, but you need a helping hand too, and there is no shame in asking for one.
Get in touch with our team today and let us help you find the best path for you and your loved one.