How to Help a Loved One Overcome Drug Addiction

Substance abuse rates within the United States continue to rise, with 8.3 percent of the population reporting active drug use in 2002 compared to 9.2 percent of the population in 2012, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Out of the 9.2 percent, as much as 8.9 percent of active users fall under the addiction classification. Unfortunately, a good number of those in need of treatment forgo getting needed help with only one percent actually seeking out drug treatment services.

Once users become addicted, they lose the ability to see drugs as a problem in their lives. Not surprisingly, helping a loved one overcome drug addiction can be a difficult undertaking.

While some addicts may succumb to promptings made by friends and loved ones, many may very well require the type of direct confrontation an intervention brings. Understanding addiction and the treatment options available can go a long way towards helping a loved one see addiction for what it is.

Understanding Addiction

rehab for a loved one

Helping a loved one into rehab can be an invaluable step toward helping them overcome drug addiction.

A complex communication network of chemicals, processes and physical structures enables the brain to coordinate an array of functions throughout the body. Drug effects disrupt the brain’s delicate network and ultimately warp its functions and structures in the process, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Over time, users go through a transformation of sorts, with changes in personality, behaviors and perceptions becoming increasingly apparent.

In effect, addiction impairs a person’s ability to think rationally and empathize with others. What may appear as inappropriate or unreasonable to others can seem perfectly normal to someone addicted to drugs. These effects account for why addicts fail to see addiction as a problem and see no reason why others disapprove of their behavior.

Intervention Approach

Interventions provide friends and family with a direct and loving method of helping addicts confront the effects of addiction in their lives and in the lives of the people around them. The Mayo Clinic describes interventions as carefully planned and thought out events that often require the help of an intervention specialist.

The effects of drugs on reasoning and perception create a wall of denial within the addict’s mind. Interventions offer friends and family a way to break through the addict’s denial using real-world examples of addiction’s effects in his or her life. Equally important are the boundaries or consequences put in place should the addict refuse to get needed treatment help.

Treatment Options

Addiction’s effects in an addict’s life are pretty much the same regardless of his or her drug of choice. It is, however, important to find a program that has experience in treating the type of addiction your loved one has.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, of the 4 million people receiving drug treatment in 2012:

  • 2.1 million attended self-help groups
  • 1.5 million went through a rehabilitation program
  • 1 million through a mental health center
  • 861,000 through a hospital
  • 735,000 through a physician’s office
  • 597,000 through an emergency room
  • 388,000 through the prison system.

Ultimately, the severity of a loved one’s addiction determines the level of treatment needed.