FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- HOW DO I HELP SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH AN ADDICTION?
- DO 12 STEP PROGRAMS WORK?
- DOES A PERSON HAVE TO HIT “BOTTOM” BEFORE SEEKING HELP?
- HOW DOES ADDICTION AFFECT THE FAMILY?
- WHAT IS AN INTERVENTION?
- HOW IMPORTANT IS FAMILY INVOLVEMENT IN TREATMENT?
- DO ALCOHOLICS NEED AN INTERVENTION?
- DO I NEED THE HELP OF A PROFESSIONAL?
- IS ADDICTION REALLY A DISEASE?
- HOW DO I KNOW I OR A LOVED ONE WILL RECEIVE QUALITY CARE?
1. HOW DO I HELP SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH AN ADDICTION?
Being in a relationship with someone who struggles with addiction can be agonizing. It is hard to see (and experience) those we care about hurt themselves. The natural reaction for most is to want to help, but unfortunately, few people really understand how best to help.
It is true that treatment can help, but studies have also shown that when a person enters treatment with low motivation to change, they very often don’t engage in the process, frequently drop out early, and usually resume their addictive behavior shortly after discharge.
As a result, it does not take more than a couple of failed treatment episodes before we begin to lose hope that things will change, get more and more angry at the person struggling with addiction, and become resentful of all the time and effort that we have put into attempting to help them.
If you are in a relationship with someone who struggles with addiction, then no doubt you have tried many things to stop their frustrating behaviors. And over time – perhaps many years – you have found that your nags, threats, pleads and scolds have for the most part fallen on deaf ears.
Now you may be angry, frustrated, depressed or just resigned that things will not change. Or, perhaps you have just discovered that your loved one (from here forward this also includes loved friends) has an addiction and you are scared and not sure what to do.
Because those who struggle do better if they take some ownership of their treatment, having a list of options that you have prequalified can be useful. That way your loved one does not have to waste valuable time navigating an overwhelming addiction treatment system, but can focus on a select list of options provided by you.
For example, your list of options might include:
1) Consult with primary care doctor who can monitor health, coordinate detoxification care if necessary, and provide valuable long term management support of recovery.
2) Have an introductory session with a private practice clinician with expertise in addiction. Have 2-3 names available, including websites where your loved one can decide who they want to see, and contact information.
3) Call and/or visit an outpatient treatment program to learn about their services and whether enrolling is a good fit. Again, have at least two programs, but no more three as options if possible.
4) Consult with an addiction psychiatrist on potential benefits of using addiction and other psychiatric medications to improve treatment outcomes. Have at least one name available, and contact information.
5) If you know that your loved one would benefit from a residential treatment program following detoxification, then have 2-3 programs with contact information available for your loved one to investigate.
6) Develop a list of resources for your loved one to check out, including: websites (like this one!) books, and videos, and clinical documentaries on addiction.
Consider Counseling for Yourself
Life is challenging and we all can benefit from working with a counselor from time to time. My final suggestion is to consider whether your life feels stuck for reasons beyond your loved one’s addiction, and whether seeking out counseling for yourself may be useful.
In my experience, it’s a lot easier to focus on someone else’s problems than to admit we have issues of our own that could benefit from therapy. But the simple truth is we all have issues, even if we don’t think we do! In fact, it’s the people who think they have nothing to work on in therapy that often are the most stuck in life.
2. DO 12 STEP PROGRAMS WORK?
12-step programs can be incredibly helpful for those struggling with addiction. Research indicates that for self-help meetings to work, a person must attend at least once weekly, and engage in the process (i.e., participate in
the meetings and self-help recovery activities).
Pros of 12-step meetings:
- They provide an alternative to acting out in an addiction
- Offer numerous tools on how to change behavior
- Reduce shame because people realize they are not alone in their problems
- Provide a social network more positive than a network of people still engaged in addictive behavior
- For the most part are free
Cons of 12-step meetings:
- Can become a person’s life to an extent that they remain developmentally constricted and never branch into other areas of life
- May perpetuate myths about change (i.e., all medications are addictive, so to be truly abstinent don’t take anything – and you have to hit bottom before you can get well)
- May overly focus on one object of addiction to an extent that other objects are ignored
3. DOES A PERSON HAVE TO HIT “BOTTOM” BEFORE SEEKING HELP?
This is a myth perpetuated most commonly by self-help programs. The idea that a person will only find motivation to change addictive behavior when consequences are severe enough is not based on research. It is often used as an explanation when those attempting to change behavior using the principles of self-help programs continue to struggle.
No one should be told they must hit bottom (it is only knowable in retrospect). Instead, we must understand what really drives change.
4. HOW DOES ADDICTION AFFECT THE FAMILY?
Often, along with the far-reaching impacts of addiction on an entire family, family members will also start to play roles. These roles are commonly seen in families where addiction is an issue, and it’s usually a way for the loved ones of the addict to deal with what’s happening around them because of the disease. These roles often start to be fulfilled from good intentions, because as the loved one of someone with an addiction problem, you want to help that person while also trying to protect yourself. What ends up happening, however, is that you may instead start to become an enabler or codependency can occur. Codependency is a dysfunctional way to relate to other people, and it’s often at play in situations where there is an addiction.
First, and probably the most well-known family role in addiction is the enabler. You don’t usually start out trying to become an enabler, but it’s often a natural progression. An enabler is someone who protects the addict from the consequences of their behavior, and they will often lie or cover up for the addict, or make excuses for them.
The enabler tends to be the one who shoulders the burden of cleaning up the messes the addict leaves behind, and they are in that respect removing consequences from the addict’s life. That enables the addict to continue on with their destructive behaviors.
The mascot is another frequently seen family role in addiction, and this is the family member who tries to make light of the situation and create humor around it. The mascot may be the youngest member of the family, and despite the seriousness of what happens, this person is always trying to lighten the mood. The mascot often becomes this person as a survival mechanism for themselves, because they want to alleviate the tension and chaos surrounding the family of an addict. There is also the hero. The hero in an addiction situation is the family member who tries to be so perfect that they distract from the problems of the addict. The hero might excel in school or work situations, but it’s really just a way to help the rest of the family cope with how let down they feel regarding the behavior of the addict.
There is also the scapegoat, who may start to actually do the opposite of the hero and underperform at school or work, but it’s also a way to distract from the addict.
Finally, in families where there are children, there may also be the so-called lost child, who is the person who seems distant and disconnected from the problems of the family.
5. WHAT IS AN INTERVENTION?
Intervention is a professionally directed, education process resulting in a face to face meeting of family members, friends and/or employer with the person in trouble with alcohol or drugs. People who struggle with addiction are often in denial about their situation and unwilling to seek treatment. They may not recognize the negative effects their behavior has on themselves and others. Intervention helps the person make the connection between their use of alcohol and drugs and the problems in their life. The goal of intervention is to present the alcohol or drug user with a structured opportunity to accept help and to make changes before things get even worse.
Much of the intervention process is education and information for the friends and family. The opportunity for everyone to come together, share information and support each other is critically important. Once everyone is ready, a meeting is scheduled with the person everyone is concerned about.
Consulting an addiction professional, such as an alcohol and addictions counselor, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or interventionist, can help you organize an effective intervention. A substance use or addiction professional will take into account the particular circumstances surrounding the alcohol or drug use, suggest the best approach, and provide guidance for what type of treatment and follow-up plan is likely to work best. For more information or to schedule an intervention click here.
6. HOW IMPORTANT IS FAMILY INVOLVEMENT IN TREATMENT?
Very. Admitting there’s something wrong in the family and that you can’t fix it is hard to do. Perhaps you don’t want to confront an addicted family member because you’re worried about making matters worse. What happens if they can’t stand your nagging and decides to leave home or cut you out of their life? That thought might be too much to bear.
Sometimes it’s easier to reassure yourself that their problem isn’t that bad, or tell yourself that at least they are safe at home. Giving them money or buying the alcohol for them might give the rest of the family some peace from their drama. Nevertheless, the addiction is extremely unhealthy. Denying it isn’t helping them, you, or anyone else in your family. If you’re concerned about a violent response when discussing addiction with your loved one, you should seek help from experienced counselors before confrontation. Specially trained counselors can confirm your suspicions that it is time to intervene and give you professional advice to protect your family as well as the addicted member.
7. DO ALCOHOLICS NEED AN INTERVENTION?
Yes. Alcoholics can be especially difficult to convince to go into rehab because they tend to think that they’re different than drug addicts and that their problem isn’t that serious.
8. DO I NEED THE HELP OF A PROFESSIONAL?
Addiction requires professional intervention and treatment just like other diseases, yet families often feel that they’re supposed to do intervene or help themselves – even though they aren’t properly trained to do so. Or they hold off on getting help until the law or death does the intervention for them.
9. IS ADDICTION REALLY A DISEASE?
Many families think that addiction is a moral issue. Addiction is a disease. But it is a moral choice as to whether to seek help.
10. HOW DO I KNOW I OR A LOVED ONE WILL RECEIVE QUALITY CARE?
The staff members at rehabilitation facilities are the heart and soul that hold treatment centers together. From your first phone consultation to admissions interviews and entry into specialized treatment programs, everything from their friendly tone of voice to the quality of care they provide sets the stage for whether or not you feel comfortable and accepted without judgment — something that is essential to a safe recovery environment. While good customer service is generally seen in the majority of average-level treatment programs, the cream of the crop will offer more. The best drug rehab facilities house staff members who are not only empathetic with their words, but that empathy shines through to their actions, too.
Your privacy and security are never compromised at a top-notch facility, because you don’t need to worry about what’s going on outside of your personal world during treatment. Every measure possible is taken to ensure you feel relaxed and safe. Questions about your treatment should be welcomed, and you should feel they’re answered thoroughly. Staff members who speak in an authoritative manner or leave you feeling more confused than you were to begin with might be representative of a facility that isn’t right for you.
One of the easiest ways to weed to flock when it comes to drug rehabs is checking up on the credentials they hold. Most qualified treatment centers will list their accreditations and licensure on their website, but if you can’t find it, don’t be afraid to call and ask. Rehab centers are accustomed to these kinds of questions and know they’re in competition with many other facilities.
Contact us today for a free phone consultation: 786-504-0806