Dealing with an addict

You probably discovered substance abuse occurring with your son, your daughter, or your spouse. This recognition can also extend to close relatives, including friends of the family. Families and friends say they tried to talk to the person with little or no change. Maybe the person was rushed to the emergency for an overdose, and released and back to using again. One would think this is enough to cause a person to re-evaluate their life choices. Yet, repeatedly we see sons, brothers, or sisters in legal incarceration rapidly continue the spiral of addiction upon release. At first glance, this appears to be some crazy mental deficiency on the part of the person with addiction issues. This is somewhat true but not in the traditional way that the health care system labels them.

Labeling the addict

Too often, the health care system will misdiagnose an addict first because the addict is not honest about his or her substance abuse issues. Whether it is with illicit drugs, medication abuse, or alcohol overconsumption, they do not speak of it. The family physician or other health care provider are rarely aware of this facet of the individual’s problem. Doctors can misdiagnose a person as “Bipolar,” not knowing the full story, when they feel great and then depressed because of drug use. The simple fix is to prescribe some anti-depressant, which may have side effects of its own. For that reason, the secrecy of it, dealing with an addict, can become complicated. The illicit drug is now interacting with the new prescription medication. These cause unpredictable physical and mental changes. Thousands of labels are stamped on individuals because of this thing kept secret.

Back tracing addiction

Families face illicit drug addiction of a loved one because of earlier physical or emotional conditions. The pain from an accident or operation is usually prescribed pain medication for a period to relieve discomfort. The result of this practice is that often the pain lingers longer than the specified time of the medicine. Now, the person can no longer get a renewal, thus resorting to “black market medication.” Drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Fentanyl are readily available on the street. Also, certain people have a low tolerance for opiate type pain medications and rapidly become addicted.

Otherwise, sometimes a person can face a difficult life situation. This can be the loss of a job, an abusive relationship, peer pressure, or merely the inability to feel comfortable in social situations. There are as many circumstances as there are people abusing substances. The person lacking the proper skills to deal with this state of affairs is stuck in this ever-present condition.

The only avenue left is to seek relief. Alcohol and drugs do this, and most people will use either or both. Being numbing agents, they numb out the source of the discomfort. At least for the time, the substance creates the desired effect. Once the euphoria dissipates, the person needs more and higher dosages to get the same relief. Thus, we have the start of dependency or addiction.

Simple steps in helping the addict

The difficulty in helping someone with drug addiction issues is mainly due to a lack of understanding. Most family members have no clue what to do about their loved one’s addiction. The following are a few tips for dealing with a drug addict. First, do not enable them; it only fuels their abuse. This means, for example, if they ask for money to help pay for different things, tell them to bring the bill and pay it yourself. Recognize this as an indicator, especially if the person has a good job.  Do not give money freely. Second, always face the problem head-on without being challenging. If you suspect drug addiction, question it. If the person denies it, don’t antagonize (challenge) them, simply ask again (invite a response) until you get the truth. Their denial is simply a mechanical reply.

You can request they do a urine test. These are available at any local pharmacy. Be sure you are present when they do the test (they can be falsified). If he or she refuses or turns the table on your “mistrust” of them, you know they are hiding something.

Other factors in abusing drugs or alcohol

Nobody wants to be addicted. One gets caught in the quick fix mind-altering substances provide. Also, the withdrawal symptoms are a strong deterrent in stopping because of the pain, so they continue using. Not knowing what to expect from treatment centers can be another point. What does the person expect to find when entering a drug rehab center, they might be afraid? When talking with an addict, you need to be reassuring, understanding, and above all, helpful. Work towards getting them professional addiction counseling. In the end, the real and proven method of dealing with an addict is to encourage and coax them. This is done again and again until they see the need for addiction treatment in a professional center.

Keep in mind; the addicted person is not your loved one, your relative, or your friend, but the drug personality. You need to be patient and persist with care, understanding and do not blame. Stay focused and know that if you need to get help with any form of drug addiction, you can always call an experienced Addiction Referral and Consultation counselor for guidance.


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