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Family support

Are you wondering whether someone you care about needs addiction treatment? The road to a substance abuse problem isnt a straight line. For most people, its more like a slippery slope. When the person in need and their families look back at past events, they can see how the addiction developed, but its difficult to point to a single moment where they knew they were in trouble.

When questioning whether your loved one needs help, it’s easy to dismiss these thoughts at first. No one wants to immediately conclude that a family member, friend or colleague needs rehab. It makes sense to compare what you think may be occurring against a list of symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction. If the behaviors you are seeing line up with the symptoms, your suspicions may be accurate.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

The following list provides some of the most common signs of an addiction problem.

Isolation
If your loved one is hiding their alcohol or drug use from others or says that they dont want anyone to be in their business,its a sign that they are justifying their behavior. They may be feeling embarrassed about either what they are taking or how much they are drinking or using, and dont want anyone to know.

Lying
Your loved one may tell you very elaborate stories about where they have been and what they have been doing. If this is not their usual way of speaking, be aware that they may be lying to you.

Addicts often believe that as long as they have a good story, they are able to convince other people of anything. This is their notion of being in control of a situation. The longer they are addicted, the more elaborate the stories will become.

Anger
If you confront an addict about their lies, they are likely to respond with anger. Some people may become violent as they try to tell another lie to get themselves out of the situation. Becoming angry and defensive when you try to discuss the issue can be a sign of addiction.

Mood Swings
Your loved one may display mood swings if they are addicted to alcohol or drugs. During a short time, they could appear happy but then their mood could turn angry, sad, or withdrawn. Youll want to make note of the rapid shift in moods, not necessarily the exact mood states. Someone who is shifting moods often likely needs to seek professional help.

Blackouts
If your loved one reports not being able to remember certain periods of time or events, its a sign that their drinking or drug use is heavy enough to cause blackouts. This situation is cause for alarm. It should prompt you to talk to your loved one about seeing a doctor about their health and to seek advice about addiction treatment.

Inability to Slow Down or Stop on their Own
One sign of addiction is when a person makes promises to themselves and others to either slow down their consumption or stop completely and is unable to do so. Someone who is addicted no longer has a choice about whether they will drink or do drugs–the disease is in control of their actions. At that point, the person needs to seek substance abuse treatment.

Next Steps if You Know Your Loved One Needs Addiction Treatment

If you read through the list of signs and symptoms and realize that your loved one needs addiction treatment, your next steps will depend on whether they have asked for help.

If Your Loved One Has Asked for Help
This is an important first step in getting your loved one the help they need. Talk to them to see if they would be willing to see a doctor for an evaluation. Depending on the type of health insurance plan your loved one has, they may need a referral to a doctor specializing in addiction medicine. If they dont need one, use the Find a Physicianfeature on the American Society of Addiction Medicine website to find a specialist near you.

If Your Loved One Hasn’t Asked for Help
In a situation where your loved one hasnt approached you and asked for help, you can still look for addiction treatment centers in their area. If you do some research and provide the information, it may encourage them to seek help.

Look online for treatment centers near your city, in your county and state. The addiction treatment centers website should provide you with information about the type of services it provides (detox, inpatient, outpatient) and the types of insurance it accepts. Most treatment facilities have a toll-free number where you can speak to an intake counselor. These centers are also very familiar with different insurance companiesofferings and whether a doctors referral is required before starting treatment.

You can also ask whether the treatment center has other types of payment plans available (payment arrangements, sliding scale, scholarships), as well as specific questions about the program itself. Your loved one may be more likely to enter treatment when presented with information about a specific program.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

Advice for parents of addicted children.

Do you remember the first time you held your son or daughter? Becoming a parent is a great joy, but it’s also a great responsibility. You probably felt a weight of responsibility in that moment, not only to provide for your child, but also to guide him to make choices for himself.

Guiding a young child to do the right thing is certainly difficult, but it can be much harder to parent an adult or older teenager, especially when that adult is addicted to drugs or alcohol. As the mom or dad of someone who abuses substances, you may feel many emotions at once: fear, resentment, sympathy, and a feeling of complete loss as to how you might convince an adult to change his or her behavior.

First of all, remember that you are not alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as much as 6 percent of Americans have an alcohol dependency problem. For every person who abuses drugs and alcohol, there is a network of loved ones and friends who are just as affected by that addiction. Feeling isolated and powerless will not help you assist your son or daughter, and it will not help you find peace in your own life.

Instead, here are some ways that you can take a proactive approach when interacting with a loved one who abuses drugs and alcohol.

For you and your family members:

  • Don’t blame yourself: Many parents of addicts feel a profound sense of guilt, going over every second of the past to find the one moment they could have done something differently. The truth is that every parent makes mistakes. Whatever your faults, you must accept that your son or daughter has free will. Working through difficulties in family relationships can be an important part of rehabilitation, but don’t allow your son or daughter to use your mistakes to avoid taking responsibility for her behavior.
  • Learn as much as you can about addiction: Every year, researchers conduct scientific studies about the causes and effects of addiction. We’re learning more about how drugs and alcohol interact with the body and how addiction is caused by chemical changes in the brain. Knowing that addiction is a physical problem can help you better understand your son or daughter’s actions, and give you hope that recovery is possible. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence are useful resources for learning more about the way addiction affects the body.
  • Seek support: You do not have to go through this alone. There are many other parents and families who are experiencing or have experienced the same struggle. Joining a support group can help you meet friends who can relate to your experiences and offer advice about how to support your child. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous family groups are a great option. You can also use Mental Health America’s online tools to find groups in your area.

For your son or daughter:

  • Love your son or daughter without enabling: No parent wants to see their son or daughter suffer. You may prefer giving her money, regardless of what it might be used for, instead of worrying if she has enough food or a safe place to sleep. But helping without caution only contributes to the problem. Hold yourself accountable to loving your child without enabling: buy groceries instead of offering money, tell her that you love her without letting her make excuses.
  • Find your son or daughter professional rehabilitation services: Addiction is a disease. You wouldn’t try to cure yourself or your loved one from cancer, and you can’t fight the physical and emotional causes of addiction without the expertise of professionals either. St. Joseph Institute offers residential services for people ages 18 and up, which includes a family program that helps family members work through the emotional issues surrounding addiction together.

Dealing with a son or daughter who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is extremely difficult, but it does not have to be impossible. Make use of existing networks and resources to help you support your son or daughter through a successful recovery.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

Loving someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction isn’t easy, but as a family member you’ll play a vital role in helping your loved one on the path to recovery. Multiple studies have shown that people with substance problems who have caring and supportive family members are less likely to relapse than those without strong social networks.

Make Time for Yourself
When you’re flying on an airplane, the flight attendant will instruct you to always put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help others in an emergency situation. This advice also applies to helping a loved one recovering from substance abuse. If you’re exhausted and stressed out, you won’t be able to provide the support your loved one needs.

Tending to your own needs isn’t selfish. It’s the best way to make sure you’re ready for the responsibility of being a supportive caregiver. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Find a support group and/or therapist for yourself so you have a safe place to discuss how addiction has impacted your life.
  • Make a conscious effort to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep to give your body the energy you need to be a source of support for your loved one.
  • Take time to engage in stress relieving hobbies such as painting, writing in a journal, or listening to music.

Focus on the Positive
People suffering from addiction often do terrible things to the ones they love the most. They may steal to support their habit, become physically aggressive, or lash out at those who are urging them to seek help. Forgiving your family member for these bad behaviors will be a challenge, but it’s best to avoid bringing up past mistakes while your loved one is in recovery. He or she probably already feels intense guilt and shame.

It’s much better to focus on the progress your loved one is making towards a clean and sober life. Verbal praise and physical signs of affection can be an invaluable source of support for the addict who is working to master healthy behaviors.

Strive to be respectful and treat your loved one with dignity throughout the recovery process. Remember that addiction isn’t a simple lack of willpower. It’s a complex disease that requires time and comprehensive treatment to overcome.

Create a Supportive Environment
When your family member is ready to come home, try to create an environment that sets the stage for success. Here are some tips:

  • Purchase a large calendar to add reminders for doctors’ appointments and support group meetings. Ask other family members to help make sure your loved one sticks to the schedule and has the necessary transportation.
  • Consider attending worship services as a family. Prayer and an exploration of spirituality often play a key role in helping addicts manage their condition. You may also find that turning to God provides you with a source of strength during this challenging time.
  • Know the HALT symptoms. This acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These conditions are well known to trigger the urge to use, so you can be supportive by creating a family schedule with regular times for meals, stress-relieving hobbies, socialization, and sleep.
  • Be a good listener. Although you can find lots of information about addiction online, it’s important to keep in mind that no two people in recovery are like. Sit down with your loved one for an open and honest conversation about what you can do to be supportive. Do your best to take this feedback to heart, even if some of the requests weren’t what you were expecting.

Don’t Lose Hope
Change is possible as long as you have hope. No matter what struggles your family has endured in the past, you can move forward on the path to a brighter future. The journey won’t be easy, but there are no limits to what a loving family can accomplish together.

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