Have you been noticing behavioral changes in a family member, due to heavy drinking or possible drug addiction?
Have they undergone dramatic weight loss?
Do they seem isolated or subdued?
Have they started to show disinterest in activities they were once passionate about?
The addiction could be fatal, if unaddressed.
Here’s how you can help:
Reaching out early
You shouldn’t wait for your family member to hit rock bottom before you step in to help. The earlier you step in, the easier it will be for recovery.
People usually develop drug addiction after they have gone through a traumatic experience, such as a break-up, losing a job, suffering an injury or being involved in a crime. These are the situations where your family members need your support most; otherwise, they may turn to drugs.
Look for early signs of drug use, and if you have suspicions, have a conversation.
Communicate the right way
You may find it very difficult having a conversation with the person with a drug problem. The conversation may turn hostile and may lead to some ‘drastic’ steps, like moving out of the house, dropping out of school or possible violence.
If dealt properly, these conversations can prove to be really productive however. Here’s the right way to communicate:
- Ensure that the person isn’t under influence when you initiate the conversation.
- You can even tell the person in advance and mutually agree on a time for the conversation. This will help the person mentally prepare; there will be less chances of the conversation going hostile.
- You should initiate the conversation by stating how concerned you are about their well-being and how much you love them.
- The whole conversation should be two-way, where you are willing to, and genuinely interested in, hearing about the problems of the other person.
- If your family member refuses to open up, have the conversation sometime in the future.
- Your family member isn’t going to change his way of thinking in just one day, this might be the first time he/she maybe even contemplating their problem, so manage your expectations.
Your family member is unlikely to agree to get treatment after the first conversation. Although formal treatment from a rehab center may not always be required, it is however recommended.
Reiterate your message in a polite way in order to convince the person to seek treatment. This will eventually make him/her understand how getting professional help is in the best interest of everyone.
Most importantly, it will help the person learn effective ways to deal with cravings and enforce positive behaviors that prevent relapse.
How to deal with emergencies
If you notice anyone of the following symptoms in your family member, you should immediately call 911.
- Passing out after consuming drugs
- Speaking about suicide after dug use
- Severe trembling after heavy drinking; it may be delirium tremens (DTs), which can even cause death.
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