If someone you care about is struggling with an addiction. It’s important to be patient and supportive while helping them find treatment.
Drug addiction is marked by being unable to stop abusing drugs or alcohol. Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue using despite the harm it causes themselves and their loved ones.
Different drugs have different effects on a person’s mind and body. Some substances are more addictive than others. Other drugs have more potent effects. Given enough time, drug abuse often develops into addiction.
If left untreated, alcohol and drug addiction can lead to severe injury or even death.
Many factors can influence whether your loved one could become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Some of these factors include:
• Abusing drugs at an early age
• Emotional and physical trauma
• Family history of drug or alcohol use
Why Addiction is Difficult to Overcome
Contrary to popular belief, quitting is not a matter of willpower or morality. Overcoming addiction is a struggle, even for someone who genuinely wants to stop using. This is because drug abuse actually changes how the brain functions over time.
Some substances, like heroin, “fool” the brain into releasing certain neurochemicals, producing a euphoric high. Drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine cause the brain to release too much of the happiness-inducing chemical dopamine.
Both drug types alter the brain’s makeup in ways that make users chemically addicted to them.
People addicted to drugs or alcohol have developed a tolerance or resistance to the substance’s effects. Addicted people will need more of that drug to reach the high they’re used to. Eventually, they’ll have to keep using to even feel normal. When someone addicted to a drug quits “cold turkey,” they suffer painful withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms are some of the biggest reasons quitting drugs or alcohol is so difficult.
To ensure your loved one’s safety, it’s important for them to get medical help to manage withdrawal and other health risks of quitting. Stopping use without professional supervision is not only difficult but often dangerous.
Coming to Terms with Your Feelings
Addiction affects more than just the addicted person. Family and loved ones of addicts are often subjected to physical and emotional pain. Alcohol and drug abuse might directly impact your life and your family, but that does not mean you are to blame.
A loved one’s drug addiction and alcoholism is never your fault.
A crucial part of an addict’s recovery is accepting responsibility to get sober. Accepting that a loved one’s addiction isn’t your fault is also crucial to your family healing.
It’s natural to feel hurt by your loved one’s addiction, but it’s important to recognize these emotions for what they are. Holding onto frustration and anger for too long can make rebuilding family trust difficult. Support groups can help family and friends accept these feelings while learning how to support an addicted loved one — and themselves — during addiction recovery.