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Tips for Handling Difficulties With Drug Addiction Care
The information provided on this page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Addiction is hard to live with and it is even harder to recover from. Both the recovering addict and his or her friends and family should expect to go through struggle during the recovery process, especially during the first year of recovery. Remember the following during difficult situations:
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Relapse is often a part of recovery. If your loved one has gone through treatment and relapsed in the past, lurking in the back of your mind might be the possibility of it happening again. Don’t let the fear of relapse get in the way of supporting your loved one while he or she is undergoing treatment now. The chances of relapse are similar to any chronic disease such as diabetes or asthma.
Deeply imbedded behaviors are difficult to change and addiction is hard to overcome. If he or she has undergone treatment or therapy before, he or she may have already learned many of the skills and strategies necessary for living in recovery. Every attempt counts. Even if a relapse does occur, it doesn’t mean that the treatment was not effective. Relapses indicate that treatment may need to be adjusted or have a different approach such as addressing additional mental health concerns.
Withdrawal symptoms should be monitored. Detox and addiction withdrawal present real difficulties. Addiction treatment centers keep clients safe and provide the means to safely remove drugs from their system. Physical and emotional withdrawal is serious. Symptoms include depression, restlessness and anxiety. Trained staff at an addiction treatment center can assist in making clients as comfortable as possible and helping them through the withdrawal process. They can create an individualized treatment plan, including any necessary medications and follow-up therapy.
Avoid codependency. Some signs of codependency are making excuses for an addict’s behavior, giving the person financial support and constantly reassuring him or her. Padding consequences is especially problematic. This is when a friend or family member amends negative consequences for an addict’s behavior.
For example, if a loved one has passed out in the yard, a codependent friend or family member might clean the person up and put him or her in bed so that no one sees the person in a negative light. Bailing someone out of jail is another good example.
The problem with padding consequences is that addicts never truly experience the severity of their crisis as a result. Without natural consequences, they may never come to the realization that they have an addiction and need help. Codependent relationships ultimately hurt both parties. Therapy is often effective for addressing underlying issues that contribute to codependency and learning ways to set personal boundaries.
Learn About Resources to Help Care for a Person With Drug Addiction
The following resources provide information on addiction and recovery.
National Resources for Addiction Information
There are many government, non-government and private institutions and resources for people with drug addiction as well as their family and friends. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducts scientific research to better understand drug addiction and then disseminates the information to the public. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has similar information on the basics of the effects that addiction has on the brain.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a confidential, free, 24/7 information service hotline. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Available languages are English and Spanish. Ask for access to free publications and other materials related to drug addiction when you call. SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) also has resources for those seeking addiction treatment programs and other assistance. SAMHSA’s online treatment locator tool can be used to find a program or provider near you.
Addiction Recovery Meetings and Support Groups
If you are unable to attend group meetings in person, there are many online addiction forums and groups for you and your loved one to connect with other individuals who understand what you are experiencing. Addiction Recovery Guide, Drugs.com and SMART Recovery all have forums for discussing drug addiction and treatment, asking questions and sharing experiences. Narcotics Anonymous is arguably the most well-known drug addiction recovery program. Their 12-step program also consists of attending group meetings regularly.
Addiction Recovery Apps
There are even apps dedicated to those recovering from drug addiction. These apps can be great tools for maintaining accountability and keeping your loved one on track. Sober Grid is a social networking app to help recovering addicts connect with other sober individuals to foster new, healthy friendships. The Addicaid app puts recovery strategies at your fingertips, offers relevant content and interactive curriculum as well as tools to track and achieve goals.
Find Out About Self-Care Strategies for Drug Addiction Caregivers
To be an effective resource for your loved one, you must find balance and meet your own needs. His or her addiction takes a toll on your own life, making it important to take care of yourself and keep your own life on track.
Loving someone with a drug addiction is stressful, exhausting and emotional. It’s heart-breaking to watch someone you love be in pain and it’s devastating to imagine what could happen to your loved one if he or she relapses. Being plagued by fear and concern is draining. It can drain you of time, energy and attention that could be spent on constructive, personal goals. Follow these self-care tips to maintain stability in your caregiving role.
- Continue pursuing your personal passions and hobbies. Don’t neglect your own desires, interests or goals. Stay engaged in hobbies you enjoy. Things like painting, crafting and writing are not only fun and fulfilling, they are also therapeutic.
- Avoid blaming yourself for your loved one’s addiction. It’s not your fault. You cannot control his or her decisions or force your loved one to change, so free yourself from any misdirected feelings of responsibility you are carrying.
- Learn to recognize and stop enabling behaviors. It might feel like you are helping when you lend them money or make excuses for your loved one, but it’s harmful. Enabling and codependence hurt your loved one by allowing the addiction to continue.
- Get connected with a support group for families and friends of addicts. Talking and sharing with a group of people who understand your concerns gives you a safe place to process your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Listening to other stories about addiction might also give you insight on how to handle your loved one’s situation, too.
- Don’t neglect your physical health. Staying active and exercising regularly is especially important when you are dealing with stress. It’s just as essential as getting enough rest. It can be hard to sleep well when your mind is racing and you’re under a lot of stress, but you need to make getting enough sleep a priority. Establishing a healthy sleep routine helps clear the mind and gives you the energy you need to carry on. Avoid eating fatty or sugary foods and stick to a nutritious, balanced diet.
- Resist the myth that self-care is selfish. It’s necessary to prioritize your mental, emotional and physical health for you to feel good so that you can keep doing well.
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