It can be an even harder questions to ask. When a loved one is showing signs that may point us to believe that they are struggling with drug abuse, we may disbelieve it at first. As parents we will have doubts. As spouses we do not want to believe it could be true. We think it cannot happen to our loved one, how is this possible? Addiction does not discriminate. It can take anybody regardless of age. If your suspect your child, or other family member of abusing drugs, there are a few things you should know. You need to know the signs of substance abuse, the behavioral clues and physical symptoms that could mean your loved one may be struggling with substance abuse. Once you know these things and become aware, there are other things you will need to know as it relates to addiction and what you can do to help your loved one.
If you have a suspicion that something is wrong with your son, daughter, or spouse and believe drugs may be involved there are certain things that will be telltale signs that they have an addiction. The signs can come in the form of behavior changes in your loved one or physical symptoms that present.
Other things to be on the lookout when you suspect that a loved one may be addicted to drugs is presence of drug paraphernalia. Such items could include: small weight scales, glass pipes, rolling papers, cut straws, lighters, small plastic baggies, balloons, vials, and hypodermic needles. If any of these signs and symptoms are seen in your loved one, and you have found drug paraphernalia or suspect any drug abuse, you will need to address this issue. It will not go away on its own and you cannot assume they are just experimenting, or it is a phase. By not acknowledging the situation, it can only allow for an addiction to grow.
You will need to address the drug addiction with your loved one. You need to have a conversation with your loved one about their drug use. But more important you should seek the help of a trained professional. The intervention of a trained professional with experience in addiction treatment is important in addressing your family member’s drug abuse. This may just simply be a few family therapy sessions to address the drug abuse. The help you may seek is that of an interventionist who will help you address your loved one with their drug abuse and how it has begun to affect their life as well as the lives of those around them. But it all depends on how far the addiction has progressed. A physical dependency may have developed in the individual. If that is the case, admission to a medically supervised inpatient drug and alcohol detox facility is needed. At an inpatient drug and alcohol detox, your loved one will be cared for by medical and nursing staff while they are stabilized from the physical withdrawal symptoms from drugs.
The symptoms of drug withdrawals are varied as it depends on the substance abused. However, a general rule of thumb is the “teeter-totter” principle. In other words, what goes up must come down. Stimulant withdrawals will appear as the opposite of the effects of the drug, and downers (such as opioids) will make people restless, irritable, and agitated. Cravings are common for all drug withdrawals.
The cravings can be extremely intense during the withdrawal process. It is for this reason that it is so important to get professional help from a medically supervised inpatient drug and alcohol detox if the individual has become physically dependent to a substance.
Addiction is not a choice. It is not something that an individual can simply control through sheer will power. The compulsion to use drugs and alcohol for an addicted individual is so powerful it in fact takes over their will. A drug addicted individual may not even want to continue their use but are forced to pick up and use the drug due to the compulsion of the addiction. It can be a hard concept to grasp if a person has never experienced it or witnessed it firsthand. The idea that something controls every fiber of your being against your will for one goal, despite everything in your life is telling you to stop, can be unfathomable. A drug addicted individual is like a person who has been possessed. At times they can appear as a shell of their former selves, just going through the motions of life in between each use of the drug. However, there are ways that you can help a loved one who is addicted to drugs. As stated, before an intervention can be staged with fellow loved ones, where they address the addicted individual in a safe environment. They discuss how the individuals drug abuse has begun to affect their life as well as how it has affected those around them. During an intervention, the family and friends of the drug addicted individual should present options for help such as information on drug addiction treatment and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers.
It should be noted that the drug addicted individual may not be ready to stop abusing drugs. If this is the case, the friends and family can only do so much. The biggest thing that you could do for a loved one who is struggling with drug addiction, is to set healthy boundaries. This will prevent them from being co-dependent on their friends and family in their addiction. It also will ensure that the family and friends of a drug addicted individual can protect themselves but still be present to provide help if the substance abuser reaches out. Some you can establish healthy boundaries and still help your drug addicted loved one are:
Professional help is available for drug addiction. Partial Hospitalization Programs at outpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers provide therapy and education to the drug addicted individual. Other levels of care at drug and alcohol rehabs are available to those seeking help from drug addiction are Intensive Outpatient Programs and Outpatient Programs.