What to Do if a Friend or Family Member Has a Drug or Alcohol Problem
In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration concluded that approximately 22 million people suffered from a substance abuse disorder. In 2016, that number dropped by only 1 million. The same study found that 8.2 million of those people also suffer from a mental health disorder for both years. While living with addiction is hard, knowing someone with that addiction can be even harder. You want to help them, but feel that your voice will fall on deaf ears; especially, if they are your peers or family members. The right strategy will not only give you the confidence you need to speak up but will also save their life.
Be Well Informed
Before taking the plunge into a deep conversation, you should thoroughly know your topic. Many websites will give you in-depth information on the causes and effects of addiction. For example, the SAMHSA.gov website offers yearly data reports on substance abuse. The site also provides material on how to get help for someone who suffers from substance abuse and mental health disorders. In most cases, the addiction is used to hide depression, self-esteem disorders, and other mental health issues that are being suppressed by your friend or family member. You can also call a rehab facility and discuss your concerns with a professional without having to commit to anything. After you have studied on the subject, approach your loved one when they are not under the influence of their addiction. Explain to them how you feel and reassure them that they are not alone in the journey.
Be a Positive Support System
While the urge to take your friend or family member straight to a rehab center or AA/NA meeting is strong, sometimes the best therapy is knowing that you are there for them in their darkest hour. The most frustrating part of addiction for both you and your loved one is understanding the addiction recovery process. Recovering from addiction is different for each person. There will be times of anger, resentment, and withdrawal from your loved one. There will be times where they will mess up. Be patient with them and remember each day is a new day. Of course, if you do have to take them to a rehab center, be sure and maintain that same positivity. Their quality of life in the rehab center is just as important to their treatment as the therapy. Remember, addiction is just a disease, and you are just visiting a sick friend or family member.
When someone has an addiction, that person is not the only person who is affected by the habit. You have suffered the emotional rollercoaster of their addiction. While they are in a rehab center or meeting, take that time to go to Al-Anon meetings. These meetings are structured to help you understand their sufferings and help you learn how to deal with the recovery. Furthermore, plan events to distract your friend or family member during these hard times you know they are weak. The road to recovery might be a long journey, but in the end, their life is worth the trip.