Dealing with Relatives with Addiction

Drug addiction can be one of the worst things that a person can go through and watching a loved one go through it can be just as hard. Active addicts have the ability to destroy not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them. They often feel completely alone, as if no one understands what they are going through. Often the family doesn't know how to react.

When it first becomes clear that someone close to you is an addict, the first impulse is to save that person -- but the truth is that no one can save the addict if he doesn't want to be saved. It's a difficult concept to accept, but one that everyone has to realize eventually. Nothing anyone says or does is going to change his behavior until he comes to the conclusion that he is ready for change.

The first thing loved ones will want to do is make excuses for the addict; finding reasons why he became an addict, and in many cases, they blame themselves. If only they showed the addict more attention, more love, they never would have turned to drugs. This is the wrong way of thinking and it won't help the family or the addict get through this ordeal.

So what should family and friends do when a loved one admits he is addicted to drugs?

Comfort the Addict

The answer is simple, but the action is not. First, families need to let the addict know that he is supported as long as he wants to make the effort to change. Let him know that as long as he wants to recover, his family will be there to get him through this ordeal.

Find Doctors Who Treat Addiction

Consult a doctor or therapist who specializes in addiction. There are certified doctors who specialize in the treatment of addiction. If difficulty arises when trying to find one of these specialists, call a local doctor and ask for a referral. More often than not they will be able to help.

Find Support for Addiction

Find local support groups for the addict. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two main mutual support groups that can help an addict recover. There are many more meetings than just AA and NA. There are also meetings that focus on addiction to meth, addiction to pot, pill addiction, cocaine addiction and more. Use a popular search engine to get a local list of meetings.

Seek Additional Addiction Treatment

If meetings and therapy do not seem like sufficient treatment for the loved one, additional treatment is always an option. There are hospitals that offer detoxification, which helps in the early stages of abstinence. There are residential treatment centers which offer longer inpatient support. There are also numerous outpatient programs available that provide therapy on a group level but no housing for the addict. Another alternative is sober living, which is a long-term place where the addict can live with other people trying to get sober.

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