Roughly 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs, but only 11% with an addiction get the treatment they need. Drug abuse is on the rise today in the United States and addiction can happen to anyone. Maybe your friend has been addicted to drugs and is crying out for help. Or maybe a significant other or loved one is battling drug addiction and you just don’t know what to do. How can you help someone stop using drugs? Your role is very important and there are many things you can do to help someone stop using drugs.
Observe Their Behaviors
If you haven’t done so already and just suspect substance abuse, you may want to observe the behaviors of the individual first. (Note that if your situation is an emergency, don’t observe behaviors, but act and contact your local emergency room or contact us now).
A part of observing behaviors is also educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of substance abuse. If you are unsure that substance abuse is taking place, be sure to share your observations with friends, family, or a counselor. If they agree they have also seen the individual engage in similar behaviors and are concerned, an intervention/conversation is now necessary.
Some common signs of drug abuse include:
- Smell of drugs on clothing or breath
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Loss of interest in favorite activities they once enjoyed
- Hanging out with people that influence them negatively
- Showing up to work or other events intoxicated
- Stealing money from others to fund their addiction
- Making excuses for their behaviors
- Struggling with work, home, or school life
- Struggling with relationships
- Having problems with finances
- Being secretive
- Unkempt appearance
- Having others cover for their behavior
- Using drugs as a poor coping mechanism to numb the pain of abuse or other negative life events
Start A Conversation
Once you have observed their behaviors, it’s time to talk with the struggling individual and express your concerns. Since you have noticed their behaviors, you will have specific examples to provide if they individual denies abusing drugs. Be sure to talk to the individual privately and without distractions. Also be sure that when you have your conversation that the struggling individual is sober. Talking to a person about your concerns while intoxicated will not bring positive results.
You may want to consider having a friend or other loved ones attend your conversation to ensure safety for everyone. One of the best ways to address the problem is with a counselor present in the room. A counselor can help professionally guide the conversation between you and the struggling individual. The counselor can also help provide a safe environment where everyone can feel comfortable.
The Earlier, The Better
It’s a common myth in movies and TV shows that struggling individuals have to hit “rock bottom” before they should seek help. That is farthest from the truth. The earlier you intervene and can get help for the individual, the better. Research has shown that early identification of the problem can yield better results in providing a more effective solution to drug addiction.
Early identification happens before a major traumatic event (such as losing a job due to drug abuse, dropping out of school, overdosing, etc.). Identification can be done through screening by a local counselor, family member, or medical professional. The sooner the drug addiction is addressed, the better.
You might think you should wait until the person asks for help on their own before taking action. This is not true. Many people struggling from addiction do not recognize there is a problem or deny something is wrong. While under the influence of alcohol and drugs, the mind behaves differently. Addiction clouds the thoughts of struggling individuals and they may never openly ask for help. This is why your attention to the problem is necessary. Don’t wait for the individual to ask for help. Discuss your concerns and let them know you will be there for them as you look for treatment centers together.
Look For Treatment
After you have discussed your concerns with them, it’s time to look for treatment options together. Remember that no one type of treatment works for everyone. Each situation is unique and what might have worked for someone else, may not work for their specific situation. If you are unsure of where to begin, we suggest looking into inpatient rehabs. Inpatient rehabs require patients to stay from 30-90 days, depending on their addiction. The CDC recommends patients stay the full 90 days in order to reap the most benefits out of treatment. Patients also will double your rate of success if they stay at an inpatient facility.
If you are considering outpatient facilities, these are typically better as aftercare options, after an individual has completed an inpatient stay. Outpatient facilities do not require individuals to stay overnight at a facility and only require patients to meet a few hours a day, a few days a week. If an individual is worried about missing work or home responsibilities, an outpatient program might be a great place to start, depending on the severity of the addiction.
Observe Your Behaviors
You also need to observe your own behaviors. Are you engaging in anything that is enabling your friend or loved one? Do you give the struggling individual money for their addiction if they ask? Do you cover for their behaviors? Do you attend events with the struggling individual that involves drugs? Are you forgiving the individual too easily when they make mistakes regarding drug abuse, only to have them repeat the behavior? Do you ignore the problem?
If you are engaging in these behaviors or others, stop immediately. Letting the individual know that you will stop enabling them will help push them to seek help. Supporting a sober lifestyle is a great way to be a positive influence in that person’s life. And you never want to ignore the problem. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away and will not make things better. Face the problem and seek help.
While you can’t force someone to go to rehab, there are many things you can do to help someone stop using drugs. Your decision to help support them through their recovery journey is paramount to their success. Your friend or loved one will look to you for encouragement and support. Right now, you might be feeling overwhelmed, but we can help. Our staff is ready to answer any questions you have. We can help you find the right treatment option for your friend or loved one. Contact us now.