No matter what type of addiction a loved one is going through, any drug addiction is a serious illness that requires professional treatment.
Harvard Medical School experts define addiction as a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior, resulting in an inability to control their use of a legal or illegal drug. As a chronic dysfunction of the brain system, addiction involves reward, motivation, and memory.
Although addictions can have extremely negative effects on a person’s health, not everyone with a drug or alcohol problem is willing to seek help, placing loved ones who suspect a problem in a difficult situation. Often family members or friends notice signs of addiction before the patient is ready to admit they have problems.
Still, support is needed, if not always wanted, said Diane Watt, professional master and training consultant at Butterflies Prospering Wellness Co. in Killeen.
Butterflies Prospering Wellness Co., a holistic outpatient multidisciplinary group practice of services such as counseling, yoga, meditation, nutritional wellness, and body massage, is located at 3300 E Central Texas Expressway in Killeen.
“In some scenarios, it’s best to provide non-judgmental support to people struggling with addiction,” Watt said.
It can be beneficial to share a list of treatment resources and encourage them in a non-threatening way to seek professional help, such as addiction rehab, therapy, or group treatment.
“Providing a safe place for open and honest communication about addiction is very beneficial,” Watt said. “Concerns about substance abuse are also best communicated when accompanied by reassurance of the safety of the relationship.”
However, not all supports are beneficial and strict limits are necessary.
“Borders are important for several reasons,” Watt said. “First, they set boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behavior and may even deter those struggling with addiction from engaging in offensive conduct. Boundaries are also crucial for the mental health of an addict’s family and friends. Lack of boundaries breeds resentment, anger, bitterness, depression, loss of personality, and damaged self-respect.
Although strict limits are essential, they are not always easy to establish and maintain.
“The first step to setting boundaries is realizing what is and isn’t acceptable,” she said. “For example, someone can specify that they will no longer give money to their loved one struggling with addiction. Firmly but lovingly stating the limit is the second step.
The third phase involves maintaining the boundary despite the inevitable feelings of guilt or sadness that the other person might begin to feel.
“Many of those who have loved ones struggling with addiction report that their eventual boundary building as well as their recognition and pursuit of their own interests and emotions was a critical step in recovering their mental health,” Watt said. .
Signs that a family member, friend, loved one, or co-worker may be struggling with a form of addiction may include behavioral changes, taking higher risks like drunk driving, or attempting to hide their alcohol or drug use.
Although people with addiction issues need help, their support system can also benefit from the support options available.
“Various support options exist for addicts as well as their loved ones,” Watt said. “First, 12-step support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are popular and proven sources of support for many addicts. Al-Anon is another 12-step group for people whose loved ones are addicted.
Additionally, individual and group counseling is available to meet the needs of drug addicts and their friends and family.
“A popular counseling theory dealing with substance abuse is motivational interviewing, which assesses and uses a client’s own motivation to reduce or quit substance use,” Watt said. “This theory differs from other substance reduction tactics that sometimes use pressurized and extrinsic means to reduce addiction.”