If you know a friend or loved one who is abusing drugs or alcohol, it can be a scary revelation. It may even come as a surprise, especially if you always thought they would be the last person you knew who'd misuse substances. But unfortunately it can happen, and when it does, you need to understand how to approach and help them.
Here are four steps you should take:
1. Talk to a professional
Let's face it, unless you're a trained professional—that is, someone who is recognized, say, as a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in substance abuse—you're not qualified to treat individuals who are abusing substances. It may be difficult to accept that the well-being of your loved one is out of your hands, but take solace knowing that professional help does exist.
Professionals will be able to provide you with a step-by-step recovery plan to ensure your loved one receives the care they need. This typically involves helping you talk to the addict, convincing them to seek treatment and a strategy to help them recover.
2. Understand the signs of addiction
The symptoms of addiction vary depending on whether they're addicted to drugs or alcohol. But there exists similarities between the two. Addicts tend to neglect responsibilities, take more dangerous risks, get into trouble with the law and distance themselves from friends and families. The end result of the latter is a breakdown in relationships.
3. Talk to him or her
Eventually you'll have to confront the addict, which can both intimidating and tricky. You don't want to drive them away further, but, at the same time, you want to ensure they understand that what they're doing is harmful. Make sure you confront him or her in a non-confrontational way and in a non-threatening environment.
4. Stage an intervention
If trying to convince an addict to seek help through conversation isn't working, you'll need to try a new strategy. That is, you may need to stage an intervention. This, of course, is best done with the help of professionals. Remember that an intervention should be done in a comfortable location. And we highly recommend not locking doors if the meeting is not going well. They should be allowed to leave.
For those dealing with substance abuse, consider Fairwinds Treatment Center. Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse by using a Dual Diagnosis approach. In using this tactic, Dr. El-Yousef and his staff of full-time psychiatrists, nursing professionals and licensed therapists work to first diagnosis the underlying reason behind a person's disorder. Upon understanding the cause, they can then treat the condition and its symptoms.