How To Help Friends Or Family Struggling With Addiction
When someone you love is suffering from addiction, you can feel helpless and heartbroken. You’re not alone. If you have a friend or loved one who is experiencing a substance abuse disorder, it’s not uncommon to feel guilty, angry, sad — or even like giving up on them. We understand. After all, addiction doesn’t just affect the person using substances; it affects all the people who care about them.
First, please understand that there is hope. We have seen even the most severe cases of addiction find healing and hope through long-term sobriety. If you have questions and aren’t sure where to turn, give us a call. Even if the person you love hasn’t yet decided they’re ready for treatment, we can give you tools, resources, and other expert information that can help you support them — without enabling their substance use disorder.
What Are The Major Signs Of Addiction?
Sometimes the indications of substance abuse are obvious. Other times, they’re much harder to pinpoint. If you notice changes in your friend’s or loved one’s behavior or appearance, or simply have a sense that something isn’t right, you’re wise to trust your observation and intuition. Even though the person you care about trusts you, they may not want you to know about their substance use — or its severity — for fear of disappointing you. Or they may not even have realized its severity themselves.
While the physical symptoms of drug misuse or alcohol abuse can vary dramatically depending on the type of substance, the behavioral symptoms can be quite similar:
- Mood swings
- Secretive behavior
- Preferring drinking/using over other activities
- Recurring fights with friends/family
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Having unusual money problems
- Unexplained changes in routine
- Changes in social circles
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy
Simply put, if your friend’s or family member’s drinking or drug use has progressed to the point of addiction, they cannot stop using willpower alone — though they may have tried. The situation will only progress until they seek treatment.
What Are The Treatment Options For My Friend Or Family Member?
At Hope Canyon, we don’t treat symptoms; we treat people. That’s why we offer a complete continuum of care, and meet your loved one right where they are on their recovery journey. We insist on getting to know them, and understanding their addiction — the types of substances they use, how much and for how long. We’ll talk about any other symptoms and medical history. And together with our clinical staff and behavioral health experts, we’ll create an individualized recovery plan just for your friend or family member. With a combination of medical supervision, evidence-based therapy, holistic wellness and other options, your loved one will get the care they need for a new start.
Detox: Most of our clients benefit from medically supervised detox to help them successfully rid their bodies of the addictive substance(s). This phase can sound intimidating because, when undertaken without medical supervision, withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can be unpleasant, dangerous — even deadly. Fortunately, Hope Canyon offers medical care with 24/7 monitoring. We also provide medication to help your friend or family member manage the symptoms of withdrawal. Depending on our doctors’ recommendation, the detox phase can last from four to ten days.
Residential Inpatient Treatment: Generally (though not always) the next phase of treatment involves staying at our rehab facility. While we understand it’s difficult to be away from your loved one for a period of time, it’s often vital that they be in a safe environment — away from the temptation of drugs and alcohol — so they can heal and grow. And they’ll form new friendships with sober peers, so they have a healthy support network when their time at rehab is over.
While they’re here, we don’t just work on abstaining from addictive substances; we work closely with them to uncover and deal with the roots of their addiction in the first place. This can take the form of individual therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma therapy (EMDR), recreational therapy and more. We’ll also work to diagnose any co-occurring mental health disorders that may have been contributing to your loved-one’s substance use.
Partial Hospitalization Program: Some of our clients can’t stay overnight at our facility, for a variety of reasons. Our partial hospitalization program provides the structure of a residential program without actual residence at the facility. Clients attend several days a week for several hours a day, then return home in the evenings. This option allows an element of flexibility while still offering the advantages of an inpatient program. If you think this might be a good option for your loved one, let us know — and we can talk more!
Intensive Outpatient Program: At Hope Canyon, we recognize that some of our clients have responsibilities that require attention at certain times of the day or night. Our intensive outpatient program (or IOP) provides greater flexibility, with adjustable day or evening hours that fit your friend’s or family member’s schedule. This approach allows them to continue with their professional, educational or family commitments while still getting the treatment they need. Of course, it’s essential that they have a safe and supportive environment at home, so that they’re not in danger of relapsing while they’re not at our facility. You have an opportunity to help them.
“Graduation Day” is cause for celebration — but it doesn’t mean your loved one’s recovery journey is complete. In fact, it’s just getting started! Continuing care is vital to achieving long-term sobriety and avoiding relapse. Hope Canyon offers a robust aftercare program, including group and individual counseling, to help the person you care about maintain their sobriety. Also, we have an active alumni group that can provide camaraderie and support for years to come.
Can I Contact My Loved One During Treatment? What About Visits?
Absolutely. They’re in treatment — not prison! In fact, your ongoing support is vital to their recovery process. We welcome you to call, email, write, etc. Just be patient, and remember that your friend or family will be very busy during treatment, and may need their “down time” for quiet reflection and rest. Also, we welcome you to visit our facility. After all, you’re part of the Hope Canyon family, too! Just reach out to us in advance so we can work out the perfect time for you to visit your friend or family member.
And don’t forget, we provide family therapy as an integral part of our treatment offering. This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your support and to address issues that can benefit not only your loved one but also the entire family.
How Can I Talk To My Loved One About Treatment?
It can be extremely difficult to discuss your loved one’s substance abuse with them. Occasionally, people are tired of struggling with their addiction and are simply ready to let go and get the help they need. More often, though, they’re resistant to the idea. Before you start the conversation, remember these three important things:
- Addiction is an illness.
- You did not cause the addiction.
- You cannot cure or control the addiction.
Simply let them know you’re concerned, and that you are here to help them get the treatment they need. Be consistent, positive and patient, and above all, be prepared for pushback. They may be in denial about their substance use — or may try to minimize it as less serious than it really is. They may deny responsibility for their behavior, or justify it. They may even try to change the topic, or become angry and hostile in hopes that you drop the subject yourself.
Remember, you can’t force your friend or family member to change their behavior. But you can let them know how much you love them.