Addiction Resources for Families: Is Your Loved One an Addict?
This is a great place to get the addiction resources you need for your family if you have an addicted loved one.
Specific Information for:
Families and Addiction
Drug addiction and alcoholism are problems for more people now than ever before. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- 24.6 million people in the U.S. age 12 and older used an illegal drug in the last month.
- That's close to 10% of the people in the United States.
- In 2013, there were close to 20 million marijuana users.
- During that same year, 1.5 million people used cocaine.
- Almost 600,000 people used methamphetamine during that year.
- Drug use among people in their 50s and 60s in increasing dramatically.
- 22.7% of people between the ages of 12 and 20 currently drink alcohol.
- 14.2% of people in the United States participate in binge drinking.
- 17.3 million Americans claim that they are alcoholics or at least abuse alcohol.
- Only 2.5 million people ever get treated for addiction at a drug rehab or alcohol rehab.
These statistics are quite shocking. Yet, they prove how widespread the substance abuse problem is in our country.
Almost everyone with an addiction has a family that is concerned for their well-being. Many of these individuals come from families whom addiction has never touched. This means there are so many people who are struggling, and unsure of how to help the people they love. Perhaps that's the situation you're in too. This is why this information is so vital for you to know.
If you have an addicted loved one at home, you're not alone. There are others who understand, and there are ways for you to get help and support. The more you learn about drug addiction and alcoholism, the better. Also, you need to learn where you can turn for help.
What is the Definition of an Addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease. It is a disease that involves brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. It is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain from the use of substances. It often involves cycles of relapse and remission.
When someone suffers from an addiction, they consistently feel the need to use. It is an urge that they cannot ignore. They are compelled to use, regardless of any negative consequences that may result. For those who have addictions, stopping the use of substances results in withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological. It all depends on the substance being used.
Addictions can be caused by a number of genetic and environmental factors. Physically, addictions result because the individual experiences a surge of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. These are chemicals that the brain usually produces on its own. However, when drugs or alcohol enter the picture, and they're used for too long, the brain gives up this job. This is why many people will say that they don't feel right unless they're using. They're craving that serotonin/dopamine response.
What is the Definition of Substance Abuse?
There is a distinct difference between substance abuse and addiction. People tend to confuse the two terms, or use them interchangeably.
An individual can be a substance abuser for years without becoming addicted. This person is probably drinking alcohol or using drugs in excess, but only periodically. There is no compulsion to use, and there are no withdrawal symptoms when use stops. They don't experience cravings for drugs or alcohol.
Many times, people feel as though they're only abusing substances, even though they've formed addictions. It's common for people to live in denial of addiction for years. This is why it can be hard to convince someone that they have an actual addiction.
Some of the signs of alcohol abuse or drug abuse include:
- Strange smells on clothes, body or breath
- Shakiness in the hands
- Sleep disturbances
- Appetite changes
- A runny nose or a cough
- Periods of hyperactivity or sedation
People who participate in alcohol abuse or drug abuse are usually able to stop using at any time. They can do so without a concern of any ill effects, in most cases. However, alcoholism or drug addiction can occur at any moment. Everyone is different, as far as how long it takes to become addicted. Even people who use only sporadically are running the risk of addiction with every use.
Signs of Drug Addiction or Alcoholism to Look for in Your Loved One
You may have suspected that your loved one has an addiction, but you're still not sure. Maybe you've noticed some strange behaviors, or some odd physical symptoms. It helps to know what to look for. Some common signs of drug addiction include:
- Needing to increase how much is being used because of increased tolerance levels.
- Going through withdrawal once the drug wears off.
- Continuing to use drugs even though it's causing problems.
- Not being able to stop using drugs on one's own.
- Spending a lot of time thinking about how to obtain drugs.
- Losing interest in favorite activities or hobbies.
- Borrowing or stealing money to pay for drugs.
Some signs that your loved one might be an alcoholic include:
- Being unable to control the consumption of alcohol.
- Feeling the need to drink more to get the same effects.
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when drinking stops.
- Spending a lot of time preparing to drink, drinking, and recovering from drinking.
- Giving up other activities to have more time to drink.
- Consuming alcohol even though it's causing health problems.
If you've noticed any of the above in your loved one, alcoholism or drug addiction may be to blame.
Addiction Help for Specific Family Members
In this section, you're going to find some great information on how to help specific members of your family. When a family goes through an addiction crisis, it's hard to know what to do, or how to respond. Here, you'll find information on helping:
- A teenager who may be abusing drugs or alcohol
- Your grown son who may be an addict
- Your adult daughter who battles addiction
- Your sister, who is struggling with substance abuse
- Your brother, who has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse
- Your husband, whom you suspect is an addict
- Your wife, who may have an addiction
- Your mom, who suffers from alcoholism or drug addiction
- Your dad, whom you believe is a drug addict or alcoholic
- Your grandmother, who may be addicted to pills or alcohol
- Your grandfather, who has suffered from addiction for years
The situation you're facing is serious. However, please know that you're not the only one to have gone through this before. There are so many people who have dealt with addiction in their families. Many of them have been able to overcome it, and even get addiction help for their loved ones. It happened for them, and it can happen for you as well.
Maybe you're still unsure even after going over these signs. If that's the case, taking a family member addiction quiz can help you even more.
Find Support for Yourself as You Face the Crisis of Addiction
Quite often, families are so concerned about their loved ones that they fail to get help for themselves. Maybe this is you, and you haven't really thought about getting support for yourself. There are many ways you can do this.
Al-Anon is an organization that's dedicated to helping the families of addicts. They have meetings all over the country. There, you'll meet others who are facing similar situations. You'll learn from each other and encourage one another.
Parents of Addicted Loved Ones is another group that can help you. They also have meetings all over the country.
Finally, if you're searching for online support, Learn2Cope is a great organization. They have meetings online that can help you through this difficult time.
How to Talk with an Addicted Loved One
It can be difficult to know what to say to an addicted family member. You know that he or she is an alcoholic or drug addict, but how do you bring it up?
The first step is to prepare yourself for the conversation. You want to choose the right time when your loved one isn't using. You also want to have all the information you need. Read about addiction, and be ready to talk about how this problem has affected the family. Be firm when you talk, but loving. Don't be afraid to set some rules and expectations.
While this conversation is very important, many times, they don't make much of a difference. This is because addiction is so powerful, and addicts are reluctant to get help. If your words fall on deaf ears, take heart. There is still more you can do.
Is it Time to Consider an Intervention?
You may have heard about interventions or even seen them on television or in movies. However, you may not have realized that they're available to you. Intervention services are available through many alcohol and drug treatment centers. Usually, they are quite effective.
Prior to the intervention, you'll meet with a professional called an interventionist. It is this person's job to oversee the actual meeting with your loved one. It is also his or her job to talk with you about what to expect. You'll be coached on what to say, and how strict to be in your wording when you speak. Your interventionist may ask you to cut off financial ties with your loved one. You may even be asked to tell your family member they have to move out. It's important for you to follow these instructions, even if it's painful.
The good news is that many interventions do result in the addict agreeing to treatment. They are often moved by how many people chose to come and show their support. If this decision is made, there will be arrangements in place already. That way, alcohol and drug rehab can begin immediately.
This is certainly something you may want to consider.
Drug Rehab or Alcohol Rehab Can Change Everything for Your Family
Once you know that your family member has an addiction, treatment is the only answer. Your loved one might be afraid of going to drug treatment or alcohol treatment. Perhaps they've never been before, and they're worried about what to expect. This is actually quite common. Giving up an addiction can be a scary thing. It will help if you know what drug rehab and alcohol rehab is like.
At NorthPoint Washington, we've created our program so that it speaks to the needs of individuals. We know that there are many kinds of addictions. We also know that people respond to addiction treatment differently. Your loved one will experience:
- Group therapy sessions as a way to meet with others who share their fears and concerns.
- Individual therapy sessions as a way to get to the reason behind the addiction.
- Family therapy sessions to help you mend the broken pieces of your relationship.
- Drug and alcohol detox to help them cope with the physical side of the addiction.
- Alternate addiction treatment methods to aid in their recovery.
There's no reason to be fearful about substance abuse treatment. Getting the right kind of help for your loved one can change everything for your family.
Do you have an addicted family in need of drug and alcohol rehab? If you do, please contact us today. We'd like to know how we can help.
- Al-Anon Family Groups