Although alcohol consumption is socially acceptable, it can ruin lives if not managed well. Unfortunately, it is not easy to identify the gray area between alcohol addiction and casual drinking. When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction, most people find it difficult to admit that they have a problem.
So, do you suspect that your alcohol use has gotten worse, yet you are still questioning whether your addiction is bad enough to start looking for a treatment center? Here are the telltale signs that will help you understand the severity of your alcohol addiction.
Signs that alcohol use has gotten out of control
If your substance use has become the focus, for instance, thinking about alcohol throughout the day, then you need help. The situation is worse if you spend most of your resources and time to get and use alcohol. You can also realize that the addiction is getting worse if your former activities, interest, and involvements have taken a backseat. So, if you no longer find enjoyment in activities you loved before or if your loved ones have expressed concern about your situation, it is time to seek help. Participating in an alcohol treatment center program will reverse the negative changes that alcohol has caused in your life.
Another clear telltale sign that your alcohol addiction is getting worse is when you have to consume excessive amounts to remain high. When you start using alcohol, you may intensely feel the effects because your body is not accustomed to. However, over time, your body will begin to adapt and tolerate the effects. As the tolerance level increases, the body will need more alcohol to achieve the same outcome. When you take more alcohol to remain high, there is a risk of overindulgence.
Alcohol addiction can also affect your health. This type of addiction is linked to several physical and psychological health problems. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause irreversible damage to the brain, heart, and liver. The damage depends on factors such as the amount and how long you have been using it. Alcohol addiction can also affect your mental state, which may manifest as depression and anxiety.
Many people with alcohol addiction are unable to overcome it by themselves because once the body is used to alcohol, it becomes difficult to cope without it. Besides, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and can take a toll on an individual. The most common ones include insomnia, headache, cramps, nausea, irritability, trembling amongst others.
As such, it is important to seek professional support in an alcohol treatment center. Inpatient treatment center centers offer treatment centers, coping skills, therapy, addiction education, and relapse prevention.
What may keep you from seeking a treatment center?
Many people notice that they have an alcohol addiction that has gone beyond control, but they find a way to hide or justify it as normal. You may hide behind friends, or career or family, or just anything else. If your defense is that your friends have not noticed anything wrong, ask yourself the following questions.
• Have you been hiding your alcohol use from your friends? Some friends may not know about your substance abuse, especially when you conceal most parts of your life.
• Are these friends alcohol addicts? If they are, it may be hard for them to give objective advice. They also have a problem they may not realize, or they would rather not admit it.
• Are these friends really honest with you? Some friends may opt not to tell you the truth because they fear ruining the relationship.
• Are you open to criticism or correction? If you are the kind of person who takes criticism the wrong way, your friends are not likely to risk stirring your anger. Even if they think you might have a problem, they might pretend that everything is okay.
Apart from friends, you may also be hiding behind a successful career. If you are an addict that can manage to fulfill family duties, keep a job, and maintain friends, then you are a high-functioning addict. One of the underlying problems you may have is denial. Since everything appears normal, you may feel like you are in control. Over time, your addiction will worsen and that is when the facade will crumble.
One of the key signs that you have a big problem with alcohol use is lying to cover your substance use. In most cases, people don’t hide their use of alcohol from their friends or family. So, if you feel like you have to lie to cover your alcohol use, then you may be doing so because you suspect you have a problem.
Finding help for addiction
Alcohol addiction can be a long-term condition that can put your life in danger. It may also affect your normal activities. Poor performance due to alcohol use, absences, being intoxicated at work, and tardiness can cost you a job. Alcohol addiction can also trigger suicidal thoughts in some people, especially when they have underlying psychological issues such as depression or other mental disorders. Alcohol can also make you unreasonable and violent. If you have had problems getting along with people or even hurt other people, then rehab is right for you.
Most people try to deal with alcoholism with little success because it is not as easy as having the willpower to quit. In most cases, alcohol addiction is usually marked by periods of recovery and relapse.
If you have struggled to get sober and resume a normal life, the best option is to get help at a rehab facility. Overcoming addiction goes beyond eliminating physical dependence. It also needs resolving behavioral issues like changing the ways you feel, behave, and think. Unless a professional is involved, it is not easy to resolve the psychological side of alcohol addiction.
An outpatient detox center allows people to seek help at the facility during the day and return to the comfort of their own homes at night. For many people, outpatient treatment is preferable to inpatient care. They can continue to work and keep up with familial responsibilities while getting the addiction treatment they need. These types of programs also tend to be more cost-effective as people don’t have to pay for 24-hour care.
What to Expect
Detox involves the body processing out substances of abuse. With medical detox, medical supervision is provided.
In outpatient detox programs, the team of professionals guiding treatment will come up with a personalized plan to meet each client’s specific needs. An individual’s entire medical history needs to be considered as well as their history with substance abuse and attempts at recovery.
Outpatient programs work best for people who have a stable and safe home life. If the person lives in an unsafe home environment or with people who abuse drugs or alcohol, inpatient treatment is a better choice.
If the person is dependent on alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids, inpatient detox is recommended since the risk of relapse is incredibly high with these drugs. In addition, withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and benzodiazepines can be life-threatening in some instances.
Medications may be prescribed to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. In some instances, medications are used to replace the drug of abuse; clients are then slowly weaned off the maintenance medication over weeks or months.
For opioid detox, Suboxone is commonly prescribed. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, in 2013, there were 16,000 doctors in the US permitted to prescribe Suboxone. The medication successfully activates the same part of the brain that’s triggered by opioid abuse, but it doesn’t produce the same high. The brain is satisfied, however, because it thinks it’s still getting the substance of abuse. This keeps withdrawal symptoms at bay, helping the individual to focus on therapy and reducing the likelihood of relapse.
Medications are also given to address specific withdrawal symptoms, such as anti-nausea medications for intestinal issues or over-the-counter painkillers to ease aches and pains. Alternative forms of pain and symptom management may also be provided during outpatient detoxes, such as balanced nutrition, adequate hydration, and massage therapy.
While the bulk of therapy takes place once the person has stabilized after withdrawal, some therapeutic meetings may begin during detox. Psychological support is a key component of this early stage of recovery. Without adequate support during detox, relapse is likely.
Clients will meet with counselors and support staff when they come to the clinic for outpatient detox. Ensuring the client has a strong support system at home in the form of friends and family will also be a critical part of the planning process at admission.
The Withdrawal Process
The length of the detox process and the specific symptoms experienced depend on the individual as well as the substance of abuse. Someone who is withdrawing from alcohol will have a different experience than someone who is withdrawing from opioids. While individual differences, such as a person’s age, gender, metabolism, history of substance abuse, and physical and mental health status, will determine specifics of the withdrawal process, there are some things you can expect when withdrawing from certain substances of abuse.
Marijuana withdrawal: The general symptoms are typically mild and resolve within a few days to two weeks. The person might feel anxious, tired, and irritable. Their appetite may be affected as well.
Alcohol withdrawal: These symptoms can be severe and life-threatening, so medical detox is required. Nausea and vomiting are common. In addition, the person might experience an elevated heart rate, tremors, anxiety, and insomnia. Inpatient detox is generally recommended for alcohol withdrawal due to the potential severity of symptoms and the risk of developing delirium tremens.
Opioid withdrawal: Opioid detox can be intense with symptoms such as excessive sweating, muscle cramps, hot flashes, chills, diarrhea, anxiety, and nausea. Individuals shouldn’t quit opioids cold turkey. As mentioned, medication-assisted treatment, such as buprenorphine, may be prescribed to ease the withdrawal process.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal: Medical detox is required for benzodiazepine withdrawal due to the severity of symptoms. Usually, doctors prescribe a tapering process where the dosage of benzodiazepines is slowly lowered over a period of time until the person is eventually fully weaned off the drugs. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, muscle aches, poor concentrations, and insomnia. In some instances, life-threatening seizures can develop.
Stimulant withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms include increased fatigue, depression, sweating, muscle aches, and irritability. If psychiatric symptoms are severe, the individual will be referred to inpatient care. In both inpatient and outpatient stimulant detox, individuals are monitored for signs of depression.
Is an Outpatient Detox Program the Right Choice?
The supervising physician must determine if an outpatient detox program is appropriate. Again, those withdrawing from alcohol are not good candidates for outpatient detox. In most cases, those withdrawing from opioids and benzodiazepines will be recommended to inpatient detox; in all cases, those detoxing from these substances should be under medical supervision if outpatient detox is selected.
Research published by the Journal of Addiction found a correlation between increased relapse rates and outpatient opioid detox programs. Those in outpatient detox programs were more likely to encounter triggers to use opioids that led them back to opioid use. Since clients don’t reside at a facility during detox, temptations to return to opioid use are present and access to the drugs isn’t restricted. As a result, relapse is more likely with outpatient detox versus inpatient detox.
This doesn’t mean that outpatient detox can’t be successful. If someone has a strong support system, a safe home environment, and life responsibilities they can’t take a break from, outpatient detox may be the best choice. The key is to develop a plan of action before the process begins to limit access to substances of abuse as well as opportunities to encounter triggers.
How to Choose the Best Program
Once someone decides that an outpatient detox program is the best choice, they can start narrowing down their options. Here are the questions to ask about prospective treatment facilities:
Does this program suit my needs? Different programs are tailored to address withdrawal from different substances of abuse. For example, a program may have the capacity to prescribe MAT during the detox process for certain substances.
Do you feel comfortable? You should feel comfortable with the staff members and other clients in a detox center. You don’t need to surround yourself with people who like you, but you do need to feel that you can be yourself. Certain treatment programs cater to specific demographics, such as programs that specialize in LGBTQ individuals or young adults.
Can you afford it? Many detox centers accept insurance, so make sure you choose one that will work with your provider. An outpatient program is often much cheaper than inpatient options, and many programs offer payment plans to finance the portion that insurance doesn’t cover.
Do you have transportation? Choose a clinic you can easily get to every day. The recovery process has to be manageable for your lifestyle.
Set Yourself up for Success
Because clients retain control of their movements, an outpatient detox program allows people to be in charge of their own recovery. While there are more temptations with outpatient detox since clients live in the outside world, they also have the opportunity to put lessons learned into practice right away.
Again, support is critical. With the assistance of medical professionals in an outpatient detox program as well as a strong support system at home, individuals can successfully complete the withdrawal process and move on to addiction therapy.
It’s that time of the year again. The time of the year where we rush from one heat source to the next(even those of us in America sadly). The time of the year where a hot cup of java and yoga/sweat/pajama pants are your best friend (more so than normal). That time of the year where all the holidays coincide(Hanukkah having just passed; Christmas and Kwanzaa still around the corner). Yup, you guessed it, it’s wintertime.
Some people enjoy the crisp freshness of spring, while others prefer the colors of a golden autumn day. I personally love everything to do with cold weather, even though I ironically choose to dwell in America while sweating my rump off every day. However, winter just has a way of adding a heaviness that many could do without; love of chilly weather or not.
Yet aside from those hypothermic temperatures up north and the obnoxious over coagulated hoards of tourists traveling down south to get away from it, this time of the year gives holiday depression to many in sobriety. All of the coldness in itself just makes things a general struggle. Nobody wants to shiver their arse off while they sit outside on their lunch break, nor do they want to violently chatter their teeth as they walk their child to school, but that’s life though.
These are the commitments we signed up for by agreeing to live. We overcome and triumph over obstacles. Either that or death is the other option, and that doesn’t sound too fun. You see, everybody copes with their tribulations differently, so it’s about finding what gets you by. While some will be using substances to stay warm mentally, those of us who will the holiday depression in sobriety will be relying on other methods this December.
Sobriety Around the Holidays
For those in recovery, the idea is to return our sanity while improving our overall wellness. The ugliness of holiday depression has been known to bring out irritability, frustration, and discontent cognition as a representation of alcoholic thinking even in the best of us. Realizing that a glass of eggnog won’t be solving any character defects anytime soon is a good place to start. Being sober, clearly, we need to look for other methods to deal with. Sober methods.
Keeping in mind that recovery is our number one priority, even around the holidays, is vital. We need to remember that there is a solution for every discomfort we come across this December. So if something is creating some sort of drug provoked discomfort, remove yourself from the situation. It really can be as tasks as just walking away like that to protect yourself.
On the other hand, for a lot of us, that discomfort ends up being family. Now, we all love our families, but there’s no denying how tiresome and stressful it can be spending such copious amounts of time around them. For some, painful memories of the past evoke holiday depression and the nubilous occasions become even more monstrous. Even so, we can’t really just walk away from them. Family is more complicated than that for most. However, rest assured that there are ways to deal with your relatives without getting loaded.
Defeating Holiday Depression
One of the keys to defeating holiday depression is to find safe, proactive ways to get past it. If these times are typically a bummer, next year try spending your holiday at a local recovery clubhouse. Might sound lame, but that’s the attitude of Ebenezer Scrooge. Bah Humbug. Every single person reading this would be shocked to see how holly jolly of a time they would have at the right anonymous meetings. People bring the spirit and cheer to their meetings around this time of year. Then there are those of us that bring our holiday depression, funking up the whole place. The yin and yang of things. However, watching the two sides shift as tender energy overcomes is a feeling of warmth that only sobriety can deliver.
Examples like going to an anonymous related clubhouse are one of the books that will strike back a holiday depression for most anybody. On the other hand, if it doesn’t, a few other clever methods to stay happy and sober through the yuletide include:
Meditating Outside/Taking Advantage of Cold Weather
Volunteering/Giving Back to Those Less Fortunate
Reminding Yourself It’s the Season of Giving(Including to Yourself)
Writing in a Journal (Even if it’s About Your Disdain for Winter)
Take Advantage of Seasonal Foods/Beverages.
As for that last one, pig out! It’s that one time of year that we should be allowed to eat seasonal foods and not feel guilty. Tasty treats are always a good remedy for defeating holiday depression. Live a little. The idea is to find that sober comfort lodged within the ice of heaviness that emotion surrounds. We don’t have to be forced into sub-zero times just because of sub-zero temperatures.
This the Season for ification
Our alcoholic thinking is the abominable creature in the other room that wants nothing more than to eat us alive. We mustn’t ever forget where we were at the beginning of our journey into sobriety. We’ve played the tape out, remembered the awful times, and going out would only be a confirmation of the insanity we are trying to rid ourselves of. Don’t allow just to take over.
Sometimes defeating that holiday depression is as simple as just calling ourselves out. As addicts, we will search for any excuse we can to rationalize our poor decisions. Playing the tape over is sometimes the difference between throwing your life away for fun or throwing a snowball. For those of us in America, we have sand…I wouldn’t recommend throwing sand, but do what you have to in order to defeat the bug and abstain from drinking. It’ll work if you work it. Happy Holidays!
Feeling tired, lethargic, or just not yourself? Has life got you down? Are you currently or constantly wondering when it will just end? Well if the answer is yes to any of these downtrodden questions, then you may be experiencing a few signs of depression. Life is such a mystery that none of us ever really know what to expect. Sometimes we undergo different experiences- sometimes similar, but we maintain mostly alike agendas smothered in unpredictability more often than not.
That being said, every being has a journey they’re taken thru as they discover the uncertainty preordained in this lifetime. Fate is quite a mysterious creature. Yet even with all the differences and similarities at hand, nothing prepares us for the unknown. Nobody knows exactly what to do right off the bat when the signs of depression start to arrive.
Sad is a mere description of depression that doesn’t even make a piece of the cake. It is an overwhelming force of negativity that can take over you. Some turn to medication, others to therapy, and then there is a plethora of us that turn to illicit substances. You see addiction and depression go together like peas and carrots. It doesn’t matter if its problems at home, relationships at work, or even monetary issues occurring that are causing this duo funk- depression nor alcoholism will know no bounds. Imprisonment within your own body is a terrible way to live.
Clinical depression, or Major Depressive Disorder as some like to call it, really is a mental disability with extreme discomfort for the individual or any loved ones within that circle. Signs of depression are extremely common among people who have addictive personalities. Alcohol itself is a depressant and will often times intensify the daunting thoughts calling the shots. So then the alcoholic drinks more to alleviate the disheartening thoughts and thus finds themself in a dependent loophole. We feel more by trying to feel less.
Depression coupled with any form of abuse will cripple a person to a point where they no longer have confidence in themselves. As addicts and alcoholics, we look to the substance to fill this hole inside because something is missing, but it only spreads that hole even wider. The usage adds difficulty while subtracting things like our self-esteem, ambition, and positivity. We cause pain by drinking to alleviate pain. Might as well be drinking a tall glass of irony.
Part of both diseases is that they want us to remember all the wonderful highs or happy times. The sick part is that they both want us to do that while we completely forget about all the bad trips and horrible nights we cried ourselves to sleep. The signs of depression that show up will literally squeeze the life out of you like a boa constrictor. Addiction will help you to forget all the days that an empty bottle or a rusty dull syringe were your only company, while depression reminds you that it’s what you deserve. Nasty. Signs of depression coupled along with alcoholic thinking will show us a path where death is the end product to ending this “uncomfortable madness”. We have to clip this wick to prevent the candle from burning out too early.
Deep in a Slump
Chemical dependent or not, depression affects everybody differently. It’s estimated that roughly 50% of those with the disease of alcoholism also deal with depression, anxiety, or some other mental disorder coupled with it. About 10% of that figure can be accounted for our Eeyore disorder. Even though 10% seems like a small percentage, it’s still large enough to make a difference. Small isn’t small enough. When this sort of unhappiness takes a hold of somebody- it changes them. They begin to act in ways that emulate:
Anger Management Issues
Loss of Interest
Fixation on Past or Future
Thoughts of Self Harm/Suicide
Recognizing alcoholic thinking is much harder than accepting depression. One is blatantly in your face while the other is blatantly in your face but convincing you all the while it doesn’t exist. The two together will powerhouse you- but it’s about perseverance and seeing the greater good thru the fog. To admit one is an addict or alcoholic is the easy part. To accept it there is no other direction this thing can take you is truly where any sort of change begins.
It’s sad how either one of these diseases can take control of somebody’s thinking so simply, but alas, that’s what disease does. The sad truth is that the truth is often sad. There’s never really a choice in the matter when it comes to sickness- and sickness is how these should always be viewed. However, there is a difference between fighting it and rolling over into darkness.
Some alcoholic thinkers never find a solution to their problem. These misguided souls end up enduring the torment that the signs of depression and substance abuse make a reality until they draw their last breaths. To admit out loud that you have run all other options into the ground and have accepted your desperation may be what it takes to make some final changes- yet easier said than done. Nobody is doomed if they decide they don’t want to be.
Regular psychiatric assessments can be a godsend for those who truly want to keep moving forward in alleviating their signs of depression. A life of melancholia does not have to be the life lead. When desolation sits in, we just have to remember nothing is permanent in life except for death. Emotion is always temporary. There is a solution for every problem out there and they all start from within.
An addiction can lead to severe emotional and physical pain if left unaddressed. If you are a friend or a family member of someone suffering from an addiction, you may be struggling with how to help them get sober. Start by researching addiction treatment programs and approaching your loved one about the problem. Interventions are an option if the person refuses treatment. Enabling is a common behavior of family members and friends of addicts that can lead to further substance abuse. It can be difficult to escape this cycle and help your loved one recover. Learn how to set boundaries with the person and remember to take care of yourself.
An addiction is a chronic condition characterized by continuing to use drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of addiction so you can support your loved one in getting the help he or she needs.
Below are the common signs and symptoms:1
Taking more of the substance than originally intended.
Failing to quit or cut down on substance use.
Spending an inordinate amount of time getting and using the substance, as well as recovering from its effects.
Experiencing strong cravings to use the substance.
Neglecting home, school, or work responsibilities in favor of substance use.
Continuing to abuse the substance regardless of interpersonal or social problems caused by use.
Abandoning previously enjoyed hobbies or activities in favor of substance use.
Using the substance in dangerous situations, such as while driving a car.
Continuing to abuse the substance despite physical and psychological problems caused or worsened by use.
Taking more of the substance to feel the desired effects, or feeling less of an effect with the same amount of the substance.
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped, or taking the substance to prevent or alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Why Can’t They Quit?
Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol cannot simply stop using. It can be extremely difficult for the person to quit, even if he or she wants to stop. Over time, changes to brain chemistry and altered signaling pathways may occur as a result of chronic drug and alcohol abuse. These brain changes can undermine efforts to quit and ultimately serve to promote continued substance abuse behavior. These neural adaptations also contribute to cravings and drug-seeking behaviors. 2
Keep in mind that your loved one’s addiction is not your fault. You can be supportive and helpful, but ultimately the decision to get treatment is up to the individual. Accepting what you can and cannot control is a big part of surviving a loved one’s addiction.
How to Talk to an Alcoholic or Addict
There is a misconception that people addicted to drugs or alcohol have to hit rock bottom before seeking help. If you suspect that your loved one has a problem, don’t wait to talk to him or her about it. The earlier an addiction is treated, the better.
Although it was once thought that confrontation was the best way to approach a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, current research reveals that confrontation can be counterproductive and can cause the person to become defensive.3
Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) is an alternative approach to a confrontation that teaches concerned family members how to communicate effectively with the addicted person. This program is designed to teach family members strategies that will motivate the substance abuser to seek and enter a recovery program. 4
How to Talk to Your Loved One
If you’re worried about your loved one’s drug or alcohol problem, there are some things you should remember as you approach him or her:
If you can, approach your loved one when he or she is already trying to quit using. This means that he or she has acknowledged the problem and wants to get sober.
Express your concern in an empathetic and caring manner.
Remain calm, regardless of the response you get.
Suggest treatment options and express your willingness to attend family therapy with the person, if desired.
How Not to Talk to Your Loved One
Avoid approaching the person in public or when he or she is under the influence.
Avoid judgment and blame. Those suffering from an addiction often feel shame and guilt associated with substance abuse, and family members should be accepting and open-minded.
Avoid being aggressive or confrontational. This behavior could push the person away.
As tempting as it may be to continue making excuses for your loved one’s behaviors, CRAFT encourages you to let the person face the consequences of his or her actions. Lying for the person will only cause more harm in the long-run.
When to Use Interventions
If your loved one is unwilling to go to addiction treatment, you may want to consider holding an intervention. This can be done on your own or with the aid of a professional. 5
In an intervention, significant people in the user’s life, such as family and friends, gather together to share how the addiction has affected them and try to get the user to accept treatment. 5 Some users are unable to see the negative consequences of their drug use, which is why a structured intervention is valuable.
If you aren’t comfortable holding a meeting on your own, you can contact an addiction specialist, interventionist, social worker, or psychologist to help you orchestrate an intervention either in the person’s office or at home. A professional can help suggest treatment approaches and design a follow-up plan. When a family uses a professional for an intervention, it can increase the odds of success. 5Intervention Services and Interventionist Options
Interventions are face-to-face meetings between someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol and people who are affected by the person’s behavior. An interventionist is someone trained in organizing effective interventions.
Holding an intervention comes with some risks, however. The individual may:
Become defensive and leave the situation.
Feel alienated and isolated from family and friends.
Feel stigmatized and shame associated with addiction.
Although a professional is not necessary, interventions are more likely to be successful if they are facilitated by a professional. Still, interventions may not work for everyone. Your loved one may refuse addiction treatment right away but may seek help later on as a result of the intervention. 5 Don’t try to force him or her to get help before he or she is ready.
How to Stop Enabling and Set Boundaries
Many people are in denial about having an addiction to drugs or alcohol. This denial may partially be due to enabling, which means that the loved one allows the addiction to continue without consequences.
It can be easy to fall into the habit of enabling your friend or family member’s addiction, under the impression that you are helping. But it can actually prolong the problem and cause more harm in the long-run.
Some signs that you are enabling include:
Repeatedly bailing the person out of jail.
Lending the person money.
Lying to others to cover up negative behaviors.
Allowing the person to deal drugs out of your house.
Blaming others for the person’s behavior.
Enablers often neglect their own needs in favor of the addict, which can lead to serious emotional, financial, and interpersonal problems.
What Are Boundaries?
Decide what you are no longer willing to accept.
It can be difficult to escape the cycle of enabling, which is why you need to begin by setting boundaries, which help to protect your emotional and physical health. You must decide what you are no longer willing to accept and make these boundaries clear to your loved one.
Boundaries won’t work if you aren’t willing to follow through. Enforcing boundaries can be extremely difficult, but without them, the addiction is likely to continue and keep harming the family.
Examples of Boundaries
Every relationship and addiction is different. But a few examples of boundaries and rules you may set include:
I refuse to bail you out of jail anymore.
I will not tolerate you drinking or using drugs in the house. If you do, you will not be allowed to live here anymore.
I will not lie about your intoxication or hangovers anymore.
I refuse to call in sick to work for you.
I refuse to lend you money to support your habit.
I will not tolerate your angry outbursts toward me. If you exhibit aggressive behaviors, you will not be allowed to live here anymore.
Boundaries don’t need to be limited to the examples above. Behaviors vary.
It’s also important that you begin taking care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. Enablers often avoid self-care and suffer emotional consequences as a result.
Once you stop making excuses and covering up for your loved one, he or she will be forced to face the consequences of his or her actions.
Exploring Treatment Options
If your loved one is willing to go to treatment, you can do some research on the types of programs in your area. Below are the most common forms of recovery programs:
Inpatient: An inpatient or residential program can provide treatment for someone suffering from a relatively severe addiction because it requires that the person live at the facility for the duration of treatment while participating in a structured and intensive program.
Outpatient: Outpatient treatment settings are good options for individuals with relatively less severe or long-standing addictions who cannot afford to neglect their home, work, or school responsibilities while receiving treatment. Your loved one can reside at home while attending the recovery program about 1-2 times per week.
Individual therapy: A therapist will use interventions designed to address underlying issues influencing your loved one’s addiction. A goal of therapy is to rectify negative or maladaptive behaviors while building healthy coping skills.
Group counseling: During group counseling sessions, recovering users share stories, successes, and coping strategies with one another. Social support is a powerful factor in addiction recovery.
Dual diagnosis: Dual diagnosis refers to the presence of substance addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder. If your loved one suffers from a mental health condition, find a treatment center that has experience treating dual diagnoses.
12-step programs: Fellowship programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are free to join and provide members with support and encouragement as they work the 12 steps of recovery.
Alternative programs: SMART Recovery and Secular Organizations for Sobriety are evidence-based, alternative groups that focus on self-empowerment and self-reliance.
One type of treatment is not superior to another. The kind of program that will work best for your loved one largely depends on his or her specific needs. Factors that can affect which type of treatment you choose are how serious the addiction is, whether the person needs treatment for medical or mental health problems, the type of insurance you have, and whether the person needs a detox.
How to Support Someone in Recovery
It can be helpful to learn about the recovery process so you know what to expect when your loved one enters treatment. You may also be asked to take part in family therapy sessions as part of an inpatient or outpatient program. These sessions are meant to identify any unhealthy patterns in the family that may be contributing to addiction and to improve communication. Family therapy can be helpful in undoing enabling behaviors and replacing them with healthy and supportive behaviors.
No matter what recovery program you choose, make sure that your loved one’s program sets him or her up with some kind of aftercare, which is ongoing treatment following the completion of the initial program. Some examples of aftercare include:
Sober living homes.
Therapy and counseling.
Recovering From Relapse
Aftercare plans are meant to decrease the risk of relapse. But if your loved one relapses, it’s OK. Relapse is a common part of the recovery process. Have the person discuss the relapse with his or her therapist or sponsor and decide whether he or she needs to re-enter treatment.
Be empathetic and supportive. Recovery takes time, and some people require multiple treatment programs before finding one that works best for them.
Once your loved one completes his or her recovery program, it may take some time for both of you to adjust to new dynamics in the family. Patience and encouragement are essential following release from rehab.
Help for Family Members of Addicts
Safety should always come first. If you or others in your family are in physical danger, you should leave the situation and find a secure environment.
Find a support group or see a therapist in order to care for yourself. Some examples of support groups for family members include:
Nar-Anon: for family members of drug addicts.
Al-Anon: for family members of an alcoholic.
Co-Dependents Anonymous: designed to help loved ones stop enabling and heal damaged relationships.
SMART Recovery Family & Friends: a science-based, secular alternative to Nar-Anon and Al-Anon.
Support groups put you in contact with other people who have been through similar situations. You can share experiences, offer and receive advice, and realize that you are not alone.
In addition to seeking outside support, engage in activities that you enjoy. Enablers spend so long putting the addict’s needs before their own that they must make it a point to engage in previously enjoyed hobbies once again. Surviving a loved one’s addiction can be taxing, which is why stress-management is vital.
Below are some different options that can help to relieve stress:
Listening to music
Drawing or painting
Throughout your loved one’s recovery process, it can help to remind yourself that his or her addiction is not your fault. The only person you can control is yourself and how you respond to situations.
. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction.
. HBO. Getting an Addict into Treatment: The CRAFT Approach.
. Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D. (2014). CRAFT.
. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2016). Intervention – Tips and Guidelines.