HOW TO HELP SOMEONE WHO IS USING DRUGS
The hardest part about finding out about a loved one’s drug addiction is the breaking of trust and deceptions that were used to maintain their drug use behavior. You might feel betrayed, especially if you have tried to warn them about drug abuse before. It feels like they intentionally ignored your warnings, but worst of all, they ignored you.
However, if we look from the perspective of the drug user, we can gain more understanding as to why they lied about their addiction. People can start using drugs for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes life is too much to cope with, and sometimes peer pressure takes effect. Understanding the causes for their drug use may help you empathize with them enough to get them back on your side, to get them help.
Risk factors for drug use are the current or previous addiction in the family, traumatic experiences in childhood like physical abuse, mental illnesses like anxiety, and early use of drugs in adolescence. What prompts people to use drugs can even come from a doctor’s prescriptions. Opioids are often prescribed by doctors to treat pain, but the patient may think those medications are safe to take in high amounts and can become addicted to them. Fitting into the crowd at a party or school is another way people get hooked. However, a more significant gateway to drug use is depression because the drugs serve as an escape from reality as an alternative to suicide. Then, when the person becomes addicted and experiences withdrawal, suicide becomes the new alternative.
Not all motivations are social, however, sometimes perfectly stable people want to feel good and have an opportunity to use drugs. Experimenting also fits this category of feeling good. Making sure that loved ones are not secretly dealing with depression or anxiety and getting them help can deter the possibility of them turning to drugs as a means of self-medication.
To help a loved one who may be addicted to drugs, the first thing that should be done is to become familiar with the science of addiction. Understanding the ins and outs of addiction can help form logical arguments for why the person is acting defensive or avoidant when asked about their drug use. This can eliminate any ill feelings one might get when trying to help. Offer support and encourage them to seek treatment. Do not forget to care for your own mental health first because if you are unstable, it is going to be much harder to care for someone else who is unstable.
Avoid blaming, arguing, and lecturing them because that will only turn them further away from you. They need reassurance and knowledge that you are concerned out of love, not spite. Do not bring up their drug use while they are using and do not assume things without evidence. Be prepared for a lot of work because it is hard to convince someone they need help. Patience is key. Although, if your loved one is unconscious, is having a seizure, or is considering suicide, call 911 and get professional help.
Do not feel guilty for their behavior and do not enable their drug use by giving them money. Excuses only make things worse and emotional appeals can lead to further drug use. Support and encouragement to seek treatment are the best options. Asana Recovery offers a fully medically supervised drug detox program with residential rehabilitation for drug addictions. They understand the real psychological struggles that users experience when trying to quit a substance or overcome the adverse effects of drug use. Contact Asana Recovery at 949-438-4504 to learn more about their treatment programs.