Drug Abuse and Addiction: What to Do to Protect Your Loved Ones

by Aiman Tahir Laghari
Drug Abuse and Addiction: What to Do to Protect Your Loved Ones

Humans are social animals and most of you would already have a clear idea why I am saying this. If you look back to ancient times, you would realize that we humans can’t survive without each other. We need human connection to thrive and nourish as a healthy society. Without this, you would wither away like a flower.

Now, when we talk about living with people, this means we are co-existing with them in a harmonious, healthy, safe and understanding manner. However, now if you are living with someone who is mentally challenged, needs extra care or suffers from drug addiction, things would be different and a little challenging for you.

Just as the severity level of the drug abuse and addiction varies, similarly your relationship with the person varies and will have an impact. So before you plan out the strategies to help your beloved one, your primary aim should be to understand the addiction and how it will affect your relationship and the household.

So, if you want to help your beloved one cope with addiction and drug abuse, this article is for you. Before I start with the coping strategies, first you need to understand drug abuse and addiction.

Get to Know What is an Addiction

If you are living with someone who is suffering from drug addiction, the first thing you need to know is to find out what is the driving force behind addiction.

Drug abuse and drug addiction are two different things. Misuse of a drug means that a person is taking drugs inappropriately or in high doses. It can lead to various social or health issues. Drug addiction, on the other hand, is a condition in which a person is addicted to a particular activity, thing or substance. But, not everyone who misuses a drug has an addiction.

Addiction is a disease that alters your brain. If someone is suffering from an addiction, the dopamine in the brain is activated. It signals the brain that the drug is a reward. Over time, this changes your brain and you become dependent on the substance, drug or particular activity.

Due to the substance abuse and addiction that alter the brain a person can be categorized between chronic or long term disease patients. This disorder of addiction is immensely powerful that even knowing the financial, emotional and physical consequences, it is difficult for your beloved one to control addiction.

Is Addiction Treatable?

Many of us think that there is no going back once a person becomes addicted to a substance. This is not true. The good news is that addiction is treatable. There are both long term and short term solutions. For example, inpatient rehab provides a short-term solution. While the long term solution includes health coaching and counselling. But, while your beloved one is getting treated, he/she needs support from friends and family.

How Addiction Can Affect Your Home?

Your support towards your beloved one suffering from addiction requires your patience. You don’t need to take everything personally, even if you have tried everything and no result at first. Addiction is a severe condition, it needs multiple people to help the patient that includes friends, family and doctors. If a single-family member is suffering from addiction, it can still affect your whole household in the following ways:

  • Guilt
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment
  • Financial issues
  • Inconsistent schedule
  • Physical and security danger if the addicted person goes out of control

Expect Difficulties While Helping Your Beloved one with Addiction

Before you plan out the strategies to help your beloved one who has an addiction, you need to be mindful of the difficulties.

For example, your beloved one may:

  • Not agree with you that they are suffering from any illness
  • Not want to change their situation
  • Fear the concerns of losing a job or going to prison
  • Feel awkward about being judged if they discuss the issue of their addiction with anyone
  • Engage in the world of addiction as a coping mechanism for their mental illness or any other problem

There is no hard and fast rule to help a person with an addiction. Determination and willpower are extremely important in coping with addiction. If someone doesn’t want to change their behaviour then trying to persuade won’t likely to be worked. But, still, you can take small steps and changes that will help you in the longer run.

Tips to Help and Protect a Beloved One with an Addiction

Even if your efforts can take time to show positive results regarding your beloved one, still you need to keep doing it for the sake of your beloved ones. Here are some of the best tips that can help you in improving the mental health and addiction of your beloved ones.

Establish Feeling of Trust

Establishing trust from your beloved one can be tough if in particular you have been betrayed before. However, consider their situation of addiction and work on it. A healthy trust environment is equally important if you want to help your beloved one.

You also need to avoid the destroyers of the trust, which are:

  • Continuous lecturing, criticizing and nagging the person having an addiction
  • Exaggerating your stress with them
  • Yelling or name-calling the addicted person
  • Being a hypocrite i.e. calling out the addicted person for his/her addiction meanwhile engaging yourself in an addiction

Trust can be easily damaged even when your only intention is to help the person with an addiction. Hence, you need to be mindful about your mental health as well as the one with an addiction. There are few things you need to keep in mind before you plan to talk about addiction with your loved ones.

  • Different Outlook– You might be only trying to help your beloved one while they think you are trying to control them. This thought can make them engage more in addiction.
  • Stress is Enemy– Stress can make things worse, it acts as a catalyst in triggering addiction if there is any stressful atmosphere between you and your loved one. Stress management is for this particular reason is very important.
  • Trust is a Two-Way Thing– It is a two-way process to build trust. If you don’t trust your beloved one and just force yourself. It would only make things worse. You need to work on this unwanted behaviour and move ahead with your strategy.
  • Consequences shouldn’t be Neglected– Ironically, at times your beloved one would only understand when they get to witness their consequences. Even if you want to protect your beloved one from suffering, resist the urge to take the consequences of their action on you.

Help Yourself First

Helping your beloved one from the addiction can be stressful so you need to be mindful about your mental health. It is therefore very important that you understand what you are going through and seek help. Just like your beloved ones, you also need help and support. So make sure you have your anxiety and stress management strategies, to keep you stress-free.

Talk to Your Beloved One

Communication is the key in any relationship. The same is the case with the one having an addiction. You need to open up to them and talk to them properly about how their addictions have affected them and you. Talk to your beloved one about how addiction is affecting your relationship, work and life in general.

I know it can be frustrating and stressful at times but the ultimate decision to change and improve would be theirs. A person with addiction would open up to you more easily if you don’t look down on them and be honest with them. If they don’t feel threatened by you, they would be more likely to listen to you.

You need to change yourself if you want to change your beloved one with an addiction. If you show your willingness to try, your beloved one would try as well.

Look Out for the Treatment Options

The type of treatment for a person with addiction varies from person to person depending upon their addiction level.

If you are a part of the treatment that your beloved one is getting, you need to:

  • Continuously Work on the Trust- As discussed above, trust plays a major role in the recovery of your beloved one. People with addiction might look down on themselves or lose hope of getting better. Here, it becomes your duty to help your beloved one and reassure them. The chances of recovery increases if you are open to them as well as being honest with them.
  • Be Kind- You should be thoughtful and treat your loved one with kindness. Their addiction is the mistake not the crime so don’t humiliate, criticize or blame them. Instead, be calm and talk to them about how you felt and what it’s for you.
  • Be Prepared to Take the Blame- Yes, you have read right. You need to prepare yourself if your beloved one expresses that something that you said or did becomes a contributing factor in their addiction. You need to be calm, composed and listen to them with an open mind and heart.

If however, your beloved one wants to get treatment for addiction on their own, you need to respect their privacy, practice patience, and don’t share their information without their consent.

Apart from this, if your beloved one has stopped doing drugs or comes out from rehab, they are in a recovery phase. This is a critical phase for people with addiction. They are recovering but still prone to relapse. In this phase, your support matters a lot for your beloved one. It would take time, but you need to be consistent for your efforts to thrive.

TakeAway Note

Without a doubt, it is not easy to live with someone who suffers from drug abuse or addiction. There is a need for drug addiction as it affects both the physical and mental wellness of a person. Apart from helping your beloved one in getting away from addiction, you need to take care of your family and yourself. You need to be mindful of your mental health. You, therefore need a proper strategy for better health, boundary setting and planning in order to help your beloved one and yourself out from the menace of addiction.

In case of any ambiguities and help you should never shy away from consulting with an addiction medicine doctor. The life and health of your beloved matter more.  Addiction is curable, so remember to take care of your beloved ones from addiction.

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