If you have a loved one who is showing signs of addiction, you can be conflicted and confused about the best way to help. Substance abuse problems are deep-rooted and do not resolve themselves quickly or neatly. Hard work and failure are often required in order even to begin the process of managing addiction. According to the NCBI, a family can be a great benefit to an addict. They can provide support and acceptance necessary to achieve change. However, families can also do a great disservice for those with a substance use disorder by enabling their addiction or pushing the loved one away from help.
Although each person’s addiction is personal and difficult to paint with a broad brush, there are some general considerations on how to approach getting your loved one the help they need. From recovery programs to support in a home setting, here are some tips on how to navigate this difficult time and help foster a positive, healthful experience.
Planning Before Approaching Your Loved One
If you are aware of your loved one’s substance use but you believe that they are not in immediate risk of injuring themselves, take some time to do research and make a plan. Reach out to an addictions specialist and your loved one’s primary care physician. Professionals can help craft a plan for approaching your loved one and can suggest recovery treatment options.
If you decide to hold an intervention, for example, it is crucial to know the next step if your loved one is amenable to help. Whether it is a simple conversation between you and your loved one or a full-blown intervention, the discussion should not end on an open and vague note. Plan to take specific action at the end, such as enrolling in a program.
Understand the Different Types of Recovery Treatment
A care team will provide direction on which types of recovery may seem best for your loved one, but this assessment, especially if done without your loved one’s initial participation, may not be ideal. You know your loved one, their needs, and how they might respond to various treatments, so knowing all of their options is helpful.
Traditional treatment usually involves a 12-step program. These programs are either a part of, or are modeled on, the basic tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous. The AA 12-step program began in 1935 and is often touted as the most effective program for managing addiction. Addicts work through the 12 steps progressively, relying on group support to help them through the process of identifying their addiction and coming to terms with addiction as a disease. AA and Narcotics Anonymous -- its drug addiction-centered recovery program -- contains a strong spiritual undercurrent. For those who are uncomfortable with its Christian message, secular programs are available, such as SMART Recovery and Life Ring.
Alternative addiction recovery treatments are generally holistic therapies that some say are more effective than going through the 12 steps. These include alternative-medicine based treatments such as acupuncture, lifestyle changes such as exercise, music and art therapy, and various self-care techniques. Exercise, in particular, is often touted as the most useful tool in an addiction battle, thanks to how both exercise and substance use can trigger similar brain chemicals that control joy and pleasure.
Understanding these programs can help you find the best plan for your loved one. It’s possible and even recommended by many addictions specialist to support a traditional 12-step program with one or more holistic treatments. Since recovery can be stressful, the self-care components of alternative therapies can be especially beneficial.
Approaching your loved one about their problem can be the biggest hurdle. Know your options, speak to a professional, and get help for your loved one.
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