For centuries, addiction has been a serious problem for the human race. Everything from alcohol to prescription drugs and even food has ruined and ended countless lives. For the family and friends on the sidelines, watching someone suffer through an addiction is one of the most traumatic things they’ll ever experience.
Advances in addiction medicine have taught us that most addictions can’t be treated quickly or easily. As a result, the loved ones of an addict have a series of steps they must follow to be effective in rescuing the addict from his or her problem.
First, Plan To Take Action
As much as we think that our love and concern can overcome addiction, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of people who abuse alcohol or drugs will ultimately require professional treatment in order to achieve sustained sobriety. Without help, your loved one is unlikely to beat this problem permanently.
So when someone you care about is dealing with this problem, your first step must be to get plans in motion to get him or her into a rehabilitation program. Clinicians at Hotel California By the Sea recommend investigating programs and affordability beforehand, so that everything can happen quickly when the opportunity arises. It is a rare opportunity to find the addict in a mental state where he or she is willing to seek treatment, so being positioned to get them admitted and started immediately could be the difference between life and death.
Provide Immediate Protection
In the meantime, you must do everything you can to keep the addict safe and alive. If you can get access to their home, go through it and remove potential problem items. Guns of any sort must be taken away. Prescription drugs should also be removed, other than those required by the addict himself or herself. Medications used by other family members should be secured in a location where the addict cannot access them.
Keep an eye out for non-traditional substances. Alcoholics often drink mouthwash and cough syrup. Drug abusers may huff spray paint, cleaning chemicals, and countless other materials. If you feel the addiction is serious enough, try to get the addict off the road. Take away keys to cars, ATV’s, snowmobiles, motorcycles, anything motorized.
And watch out for triggers. Make any effort you can to prevent the addict from being in situations where abuse can accelerate or recur during recovery.
Many times, this is the hardest part. Loved ones normally understand that there are complex and painful chemical processes going on in the addict’s brain. These processes force the addict to do almost anything to ensure another fix.
When the loved one needs your help to feed the addiction, it will be very difficult for you to resist. Addicts fight dirty, or at least their addictions do. They will threaten you, insult you, try to shame you, or do whatever they can think of to make you give them the money or substances that they need.
You must not give in. The fact that they are demanding a fix tells you that they are at least somewhat sober, and that you might be able to discuss treatment with them. But above all, don’t give in. Protect yourself physically if necessary by simply leaving the addict’s presence–even if that means exiting your own home.
Assisting a loved one through the process of recovering from addiction is tough on everyone involved. It is frightening, dangerous, and expensive. But the victory you will achieve together when sobriety is reached will make the long fight worthwhile.