You may not always know when someone you love is living with addiction to drugs and alcohol. Changing behavior and increased secrecy could be addiction, but it could also be a sign of an affair, job loss the person isn’t yet ready to discuss, or another unrelated trauma. However, changes that raise red flags and set off alarms shouldn’t be ignored – addiction doesn’t discriminate, and even the best of us can be caught up in drugs.
Trying to talk to your loved one about changes you’ve noticed is always a good idea. There could be something stressful affecting them, or something you find superfluous that they’re simply struggling to accept. If you sense there’s something deeper, though, listen to your instinct. It is very possible that an addicted person may not show typical signs of drug and alcohol addiction, but some of the signs can be easy to miss, especially if you don’t work with this person.
It’s never recommended to attempt to stage an intervention yourself. Fortunately, you have other options, starting with contacting an interventionist. Interventionists are relatively easy to find – a quick internet search will pop up a few nearby. The larger your city, the larger the number of interventionists that will be available to help you. Some interventionists work exclusively for one rehab center, others may work for several.
Intervention programs can cost a few thousand dollars, so it’s important to check with your insurance to verify that you have coverage for an intervention. If you don’t, an intervention is still worth consideration. An interventionist’s job is to work with the family of an addicted person to create a plan to guide their loved one safely to rehab. Professional intervention has a nearly 100% success rate, and could be instrumental to ensuring long-term success against addiction to drugs and alcohol.
An interventionist, though, is just the first step – once you execute the plan with the interventionist, and get the person you love into rehab, there are other steps, and other people you’ll need to see, and want to see.
Interventionists are under the ‘Social Worker’ umbrella; they are absolutely able to provide some emotional and psychological care, and must be able to do so to successfully do their job. The bulk of the emotional care for both the addicted person and their loved ones will need to come from a therapist, though.
Therapists are specially-trained to offer psychological and mental health services. An addicted person will meet and work with a counselor at their facility, but if you’re supporting an addicted person, you may need time with a therapist yourself. While addiction to drugs and alcohol isn’t an easy thing to get over, neither is the emotional toll of supporting an addicted loved one, particularly a spouse whose income is needed for maintenance of day-to-day life.
All of the normal stressors that come with a marriage or long-term relationship multiplies when your partner is living with drug and alcohol addiction, and it’s normal to feel guilty, lost, angry, stressed out, or sad. This is part of the reason that therapy is so important to those supporting a person living with addiction: the addicted person isn’t the only one on this journey. Spouses and children are part of this, too, and seeking help for the emotional trauma of drug addiction in the family is essential to maintaining the health and overall well-being of you and any children you may have.
Equally important is seeking therapy for yourself and other family members if your teen is living with addiction. It is unbelievable to some parents that teens are able to obtain illicit drugs, much less use them long enough to become addicted. When this happens, many parents feel their parenting skills are to blame, and that they have ultimately caused this. Therapy can help identify what may have gone wrong, and offer some perspective. A child in rehab will need psychotherapy as well, and root causes will be dug out from this part of their addiction treatment.
People of faith who find supporting an addicted loved one draining should consider approaching religious leaders in their group. Sharing your struggles with people who believe in the same higher powers in which you believe is a huge comfort to many people.
Spending time mediating, praying, or other faith practices is always an option, but leaning on faith may be essential. Rehab facilities offer visiting hours, too, of course – check with your loved one in rehab to see if they would like a visit from a spiritual leader. If so, regular visits from a spiritual leader may help your addicted loved one stay on track, and believe strongly in their own ability to recover.
Relying on friends probably doesn’t need to be mentioned – friends may be the first to know that a loved one is living with addiction to drugs and alcohol. Getting out of your home, spending time with your friends, even if you’re just in their home, laughing at movies, is good for you when you’re supporting someone living with addiction.
It is important to take these small steps for your own mental health as you try to move away from something that has negatively affected your family. This can be difficult for parents, but friends might also be willing and able to take care of your other children while you take some time for yourself. Even if you feel that taking time for yourself could distract you from doing other things, take it. Relaxing is as much a part of rehab as it is a part of coping with supporting an addicted family member.
Last, but certainly not least, ask a rehab counselor, or do a search for support groups for people in your position. There isn’t one group that is perfect, but looking for matching dynamic and energy is the best way to judge which support group is most beneficial. Support groups are just as important if you’re going through addiction treatment, but not all loved ones and family members realize how much someone else’s addiction can affect them. Choosing to spend more time getting to know stories like your own is one of the best ways to get through this difficult time.
If you’re supporting someone you love as they go through rehab, you’re not alone, and it’s okay to have strong feelings. Talking to someone, whether or not they’re a trained professional, is the best way to help you start feeling better.
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