loved one addiction

How to Help a Loved One With an Addiction

SoCal Detox
SoCal Detox

SoCal Detox editorial contributors include writers, editors, mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals who are trained to create credible and authoritative health information that is accurate, informative, and easy to understand.

For every person with an addiction filled with life-threatening behaviors and dangerous lifestyle decisions, there is a heartbroken loved one watching it happen. Family and friends feel powerless in the face of this seemingly all-powerful force in the life of their son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister. Maybe you’ve stood in the doorway pleading with tears streaming from your eyes. Maybe you’ve silently watched as the pills disappeared. Maybe you’ve stayed up nights terrified for the life of your loved one as the clock kept its slow and steady pace. Whatever your experience, you likely know this one thing: your loved one is disappearing before your eyes. And you just might be losing yourself with them.

Your Loved One Is Worth It

The first thing is something you already know. Your loved one is worth saving. They are worth the effort. The world might see a junkie or a drunk, but you see a person of infinite value that has not just lost their way but has been stolen from themselves and from their family and friends who love them.

The second thing to know is that recovery is possible.

However, you can’t save them. So what can you do?

From the Outside

Addiction is a disease that affects the brain and behavior. To a friend or family member watching from the outside, it can seem like mind control. The world’s answer to addiction is usually to blame—the addict, their influences, their circumstances, society, anything. But blame is not the way to help. Real help is a lot more nuanced. It understands that action needs occur and the addict needs to come to a realization. But it also understands that simple willpower is not what it takes to heal a chemical dependency.

Your loved one cannot simply decide to stop. They need real help in the form of professional recovery treatment.

So, again, what can you do? Be firm and point the way.

What’s Involved in Addiction Treatment?

If they are not looking for it themselves, it’s likely you are going to be the one researching treatment options for your loved one. This is an overwhelming task, to be sure. Where do you even start?

First: Detox

The first step is going to be detoxification. Your loved one is in a serious physical situation. Their body has become dependent on the substances they have been using. This means that while cutting them out of their lives has to happen, this process is also dangerous. They need to remove substances from their system under the close guidance of a medical professional.

Withdrawals are what happen when a person’s body stops receiving a substance (such as drugs or alcohol) that it has been depending on. The longer a person abuses, the more their body becomes dependent. So the longer the addiction, the stronger the withdrawals will be. Common physical effects range from shaking and sweating to hallucinating and seizing on the extreme side. A high-quality detox is essential for safety and duress during this process. When your loved one goes through the detoxification process, they should be as safe and comfortable as possible.

As one of the premier detox facilities in Southern California, SoCal Detox offers a wide variety of detox programs that are effective, proven to work, and administered by professional, experienced and compassionate staff. Call us today to get treatment and guidance through this important step of recovery for you or your loved one: 888-590-0777.

Second: Inpatient Residential Treatment (Rehab)

These centers are often referred to as “rehab.” The programs should be highly organized and professionally managed for live-in treatments. This is where the deeper work of integrated emotional and psychological guidance combines with life-skill training, group support, and individualized attention.

The length of stay usually lasts at least 28 days and some can last as long as a year. Most treatment centers will treat any addiction. But there are other considerations when looking at the best fit.

  • Is it group specific (gender specific, executive, LGBT)?
  • Is it accessible to you? (where is it located?)
  • Does it look like a comfortable place?
  • What services are available (family sessions, trauma care, wilderness treatment, yoga, etc)?
  • Will insurance cover it?

Third: Partial Hospitalization Programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs, and aftercare

The first step of detox and rehab are the immediate concerns, so you have a little more time on this. As well, your residential treatment team will play an essential part in creating the long-term plan for your loved one. However, here are a some of the treatment options you can expect.

With Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) the clients do not live at the treatment center. This approach allows your loved one to meet with a small group of other addicts/alcoholics and a therapist. They will meet, on average, 2-4 days a week for 3 months. In these groups, they will go over common goals, relapse prevention techniques, how to deal with triggers and various other objectives.

Before You Call

If you are going to call a treatment center on behalf of your loved one, here is some information that will be useful when talking to a prospective treatment center:

  • What substances are being used? 
  • How long have they been using?
  • Is there any history of treatment in the past?
  • Are there any mental health issues involved on top of the alcohol or substance abuse issues?

At SoCal Detox, we would be happy to go over all or any of this information with you and help you understand what your options are. If you want to simply talk to an addiction specialist who can help walk you through every part of the process, please call today: 888-590-0777.

Part 2 coming soon:
How do I approach my loved one?

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