Recognizing the signs of addiction in a loved one can be harder than it seems. Medical experts have stated that addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain’s motivation, reward, and memory functions. People suffering from drug or alcohol addiction will crave the substance of choice and display other behavioral habits. They’ll often neglect other life priorities to fulfill or support their habit.
Some common signs of addiction include:
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- Physical withdrawal symptoms
- The increase in dangerous risk-taking
- Inability to stay away from drugs and alcohol
- Drinking or using drugs more than the period initially intended
- Changes to routines or behaviors: including neglecting other activities and responsibilities
- A decrease in performance at work or school, including reduced attendance
- The decline of relationships with family, friends, or professional associations
- Creating isolation and secrecy to conceal behavior
- Changes in physical appearance, including deterioration and hygiene
- Increased tolerance to substances, needing more than the time before to have the same reaction
Knowing the signs may help you identify a problem, but it is also crucial to know what risk factors come with addiction.
- Genetics and family history- Hereditary reasons may put you at a higher risk for addiction. Suppose a family member suffers from either disease. Your chances increase of also becoming addicted.
- Age- Age plays a factor in putting users at a higher chance of developing an addiction. Adolescents have a considerably higher chance of developing an addiction because of their inclination towards risky behaviors. Additionally, the younger you begin using drugs or alcohol, the higher the likelihood you will develop dependence.
- Psychological health– History is a crucial indicator of your likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem. People with a history of anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, and other mental health conditions suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction at a higher rate than those with no mental health conditions. Often, abuse worsens pre-existing psychological conditions.
- Cohorts- People with whom you choose to associate with, can increase your chances of becoming an addict. Drug and alcohol abuse amongst your peers, family, or friends can increase your acceptance of the behavior and eventually lead to substance addiction.
- Stress– Anxiety and stress is a common factor in drug and alcohol addiction. When used as a coping mechanism to unwind, there is an increased likelihood of developing long-term dependency.
- Substance used- This can significantly increase your likelihood of dependency and addiction. For example, drugs that are injected or smoked may have a higher risk of addiction because the effects on the brain are felt faster than drugs that are consumed by the mouth.
More About Risk Factors
People with a healthy, clear mind can usually identify harmful behavior and stop it. This is not the case for those who are suffering from addiction. Rather than admit that they’ve become dependent, they’ll find ways to justify and continue using.
The first step to receiving help is to recognize the mental, physical and emotional signs, like weight or personality changes in loved ones. If you or someone you know shows signs of addiction, it is crucial to get them the help required.
Addiction usually stems from substance abuse, but behavioral addictions like gambling can have just as severe of consequences. According to ASAM, addiction is when an individual is unable to refrain from a substance consistently or behavior. This usually takes a toll on their mental and physical health. Substance addiction is a dependence on one or more of the following:
- Nicotine or tobacco
Studies suggest that behavioral addictions are as severe as drug and alcohol addictions. Both develop into dependency and have equally negative consequences. Behavioral addiction is a dependence on one or more of the following:
- Video games
Regardless of the form of addiction, it is crucial to recognize warning signs and know how to seek help when necessary.
Identifying The Initial Signs of Addiction
In the beginning stages, an addict usually won’t show visible signs of a full-blown addiction. Some initial stage signs of addiction include:
- Binge episodes
- Family history of addiction
- Being especially attracted to an activity or substance
- Seeking out places where the activity or substance is present
In regards to social behaviors like smoking or drinking, it may be tough to determine if there’s an addiction. What might resemble an addiction could be an experimental phase or a stress management method. But as for an actual addiction, to leave it untreated will develop into a lifetime of suffering and declining health.
When a Loved One Has a Substance Addiction
If you suspect that a family member or friend has a substance addiction, here are several things you should do:
Talk to them about your concerns, and offer your help and support. The sooner that addiction is treated, the better. Write a list of specific examples of their behavior that concerns you and urge them to seek treatment.
Take care of yourself
Don’t put yourself in danger when trying to communicate with an addict. Avoid getting caught up in their drug problem that you start ignoring your own needs. Make sure you have a support group to lean on if needed.
You can support someone suffering from addiction and encourage them to seek help, but you will never make an addict change. You are not in control of their decisions, and letting them accept responsibility for their actions is a crucial step on the path of recovery.
Things you should not do are:
- Throw out or hide drugs
- Use substances with the addict
- Feel guilty for the addict’s behavior
- Argue with the addict while they’re high
- Attempt to threaten, discipline, bribe, or lecture the addict
- Make the addict feel worthless. The effect could drive them to use more
- Cover up for the addict, or shield them from the consequences that come with using
- Take over the addict’s responsibilities, reducing their feelings of self-worth
Addiction is a complicated problem that influences every aspect of a user’s life. Overcoming substance addiction is only possible by getting treatment. Recovery is possible, but it is more troublesome when going about it alone. Whether you choose to attend residential rehab, get therapy, or use self-help programs, support is crucial in conquering addiction.
When to Intervene For a Loved One
It can be challenging to approach someone struggling with substance addiction. Although friends and family members do mean well, they usually don’t know what to say. The person struggling with addiction may deny they even have a problem, which makes opening a conversation difficult.
Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with other mental health problems, like depression and eating disorders. Consequently, staging an intervention may be a lifesaving decision.
The initial step in staging an intervention is to contact an intervention specialist. The interventionalist will manage communication between the group members moving in the right direction. Interventionalists can help people struggling from breaking their cycle of denial. An interventionist is imperative for staging a successful intervention and ensuing the end goal, getting the subject the help they need.
Form Your Intervention Group
Once the group members are on board, the interventionalist will help in creating an intervention plan. There isn’t a “typical” way of staging an intervention. These specialists work with group members to address the subject’s specific needs. Some of the best members to help stage an intervention and who could be the most convincing are siblings, parents, partners, and close friends.
Learn and Practice
From there, an interventionist will educate the members on addiction recovery. Knowledge and empathy are tools the intervention party can use to persuade their loved one to get help. Group members must plan and rehearse for the intervention with the interventionist. Loved ones can help trigger transparency by describing ways the addict has hurt them.
Choose a Meeting Time and Place
A common rule is making sure the site where the intervention is held should be familiar and non-threatening. This puts the individual more at ease during the intervention. It’s also crucial to schedule the time of the intervention when the subject will be sober. Interventions usually last 30-90 minutes, but there is not a necessary period.
Nobody can predict or control how the intervention subject will respond when confronted. Interventionalists have expert knowledge in calming hostile situations. Their presence is crucial in keeping an intervention as amicable and productive as feasible. If the subject’s response to being confronted compromises people, you should call 911.
The Addiction Treatment Process
Once your loved one has committed to addiction rehab, knowing the process to expect will help them in getting comfortable with this transaction. The addiction treatment process will include:
When contacting the rehab facility of choice, the admissions agents will explain all of the treatment options offered. They’ll acknowledge all concerns and answer any questions regarding the treatment center. You’ll also receive an admissions packet to complete previous to coming to the facility.
Upon arriving at the facility, the patient will undergo a medical and psychological evaluation. Most who walk into rehab are either not sober or experiencing withdrawal when they arrive. So, they might not be coherent enough to discuss a treatment plan in detail; therefore, the treatment staff will recommend a treatment plan.
The first stage of addiction treatment requires the clearing of drugs and alcohol out of your system in a medically supervised environment. The early days of detoxification will usually be the worst. From there, patients are recommended supplemental services or therapy either near or at the end of the detoxification process. The rehab facility will provide round the clock monitoring while having the ability to reduce any withdrawal symptoms promptly if they occur.
After medical detoxification, most patients transition into residential treatment. The patient will usually attend one or two individual therapy sessions throughout the week. From there, they’ll participate in group therapy sessions, daily educational classes, and supplemental therapy meetings. Other forms of therapy will include meditation, art therapy, exercise, or other programs.
With partial hospitalization, patients will live in a sober living home affiliated with their treatment center. They’ll attend therapeutic programs at the treatment center throughout the day while sleeping at a different facility at night. The only difference separating partial hospitalization programs and residential treatment is the number of hours patients attend. Partial hospitalization programs require fewer meetings than inpatient therapy.
After leaving the partial hospitalization program, the next step is intensive outpatient therapy, consisting of one-on-one and group therapy sessions weekly. Outpatient therapy does not have a start or end date. Some patients will meet with their therapist on a weekly or monthly basis for the rest of their lives. Others stop attending a few months after starting once they’ve maintained consistent sobriety.
Aftercare is a general term that refers to nonmedical services administered by addiction rehab centers. Group support, the right form of employment, sober housing, and other factors are crucial in preventing relapse. Aftercare planning can begin as early as during the admissions process or in the final stages of inpatient therapy.
Sober Living Home
A sober living home is another vital means for addiction treatment success. Sober living homes provide in-home peer support and structure for patients in early addiction recovery. Some will live in sober living homes for months during outpatient rehab, while others might stay for years after attending treatment.
Peer support groups are a foundational part of many addiction rehab programs. Patients will interact in self-help groups and group therapy during the entire treatment process. Most group members will attend meetings every day for months after leaving rehab.
Get Help Today
If you or a loved one is showing any signs of addiction, it is crucial to seek out help. Here at Free By the Sea, we can get you the answers you seek and get you the support needed to kick an addiction for good.
Without help, it can be challenging to overcome substance addiction. Substance use disorders can affect every aspect of a user’s life. However, here at Free by the Sea, our addiction treatment doctors and specialists can help patients in finding their way to a new lifestyle of sobriety. Contact us today and allow our treatment staff to answer all questions you have.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.