Loving An Addict Or Alcoholic: How To Help Them And Yourself

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The possibility of struggling with physical and mental health problems is not far when a person is also dealing with alcohol or drug abuse. For instances like this, it is not only the addicted person that is affected. Family and friends are also affected by the situation. Hence, it is essential that the family and friends know how to deal with the struggling person as well as understand how to address their personal needs.

Drug Or Alcohol Abuse Symptoms

A person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction may show the following symptoms.

  •    Seem intoxicated most of the time
  •    Have problems with their cognitive and memory skills
  •    Have unusual sleeping habits
  •    Have issues with school or work
  •    Have poor hygiene
  •    Will become less active in social gatherings unless there are drugs or booze
  •    Will steal for drugs
  •    Will lie about their drug or alcohol addiction
  •    Will become more irritable and gets angry easily
  •    Will show signs of withdrawal when not in drugs

It is but usual that the person struggling with drug abuse will have different behaviors in time when they are sober and when they are intoxicated. And the extreme behavior they have when drunk or drugged can cause serious problems that in turn can cause their family and friends anxiety.

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Ending Co-dependency

When we speak of co-dependency, we are talking about the relationship between the addicted person and the people close to him. Often these people will do anything to help the struggling person, however, what happens is that they, unknowingly, foster the addiction instead. The typical signs that the family and friends are already into the codependent relationship when the following symptoms occur:

  1.    Often, the person in a codependent relationship will feel that the struggling person is his responsibility will do anything to protect their loved on even if it means they have to sacrifice their happiness.
  2.    Another sign that you are already in a co-dependency environment is when accommodating to the needs of the other party even if entails neglecting your self.
  3.    You will find yourself in a codependent relationship when you keep on holding to the other person because you are afraid to be on your own or felt rejected.
  4.    If you are in this kind of relationship, you will focus more on the feelings of your struggling loved one that you will find it difficult to talk about your worries and ask help for it.
  5.    Often, if you are a codependent individual, you will find yourself always saying “yes” to the other person even if it is against your will.

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD  explains that “Codependency is a pattern of behavior where someone puts the needs of someone else ahead of their own. In a relationship where someone is abusing a substance, this usually manifests in one person being a “caretaker”.”

It does not matter if at the beginning of your relationship you started on your right foot. But the moment that one person starts to be dependent on drugs or alcohol, it is not only him that needs help but also the other party which is you.

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How To Help A Loved One Struggling With Addiction

When you have a family member or a friend that is dependent on alcohol or drugs, it is but reasonable that you want to help that person. The best way to do it may be harsh and counterintuitive but mind you, this approach started with love to heal not only the dependent individual but also the codependent person. The steps are as follow:

  1.    Always think that addiction to something is not a choice but a brain disease that needs medical attention. “We confirm to the person that we recognize their suffering and that he has a right to express his pain, sadness, fear, anger, or any other emotion due to his suffering,” Beverly Engel L.M.F.T. says.
  2.    Always remember that there is no one more capable of managing addiction other than the person itself.
  3.    Always set limitations and do not break it.
  4.    Never stop encouraging the struggling person to ask for help even if it means you have to look for resources yourself.
  5.    Ask help for yourself too. Look for a therapist that focuses on addiction counseling.
  6.    Be an example to your codependent by giving up any addiction that you also have.
  7.    Be supportive but do not tolerate the other person. If he is a fault, let him suffer the consequence.
  8.    Be positive that eventually the other person will give in and ask for help because of your encouragement. Do not worry if that person relapses because it is part of the journey and does not necessarily means failure.

In The Event Of A Relapse

A person looking for help will have a great chance to overcome addiction with the support from the family, friends, therapists, and doctors. However, there is also a big chance that the person will go into relapse. If relapse is stressful to the other people, how much more would it be to the person concern?

As mentioned, addiction is a disease, and that means it could get worse over time. Just like any medical condition, the treatment will be useful for some time, but then the symptoms will also have the chance to progress. When the person relapses, do not give up but instead go back to the doctor and start a new treatment routine. It will only become a problem if the individual does not want to ask for help the second time around.

“Many people feel horrible about themselves when they’ve suffered a relapse,” Timothy Brennan, M.D. says. “Piling on is not likely to be of much benefit [because] we know that people are not motivated by anger or resentment.”

This time, look for a treatment center that specializes ton relapses. Most programs like this are pairing their graduates with the new participants for a better support system.

If you have someone that is undergoing the relapse stage, do not judge the person instead be supportive without any holds bar.

You can be of help to prevent the person from undergoing a relapse by taking away addicting substances from your home, find a new hobby that both you and your loved one can enjoy together, and set healthy goals together. Behavior change is significant to a person who wants to conquer his addiction; likewise, it is equally important that the family and friends welcome the change.

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