Recognise Addiction when you see it...

Getting help for drug abuse and drug addiction
Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, one that takes tremendous courage and strength. Facing your addiction without minimizing the problem or making excuses can feel frightening and overwhelming, but recovery is within reach. If you’re ready to make a change and willing to seek help, you can overcome your addiction and build a satisfying, drug-free life for yourself.

Support is essential to addiction recovery

Don’t try to go it alone; it’s all too easy to get discouraged and rationalize “just one more” hit or pill. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Recovering from drug addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance.

Support can come from:

*  family members

* close friends

*  therapists or counselors

* other recovering addicts

*  healthcare providers

* people from your faith community

When a loved one has a drug problem

If you suspect that a friend or family member has a drug problem, here are a few things you can do:

* Speak up. Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support, without being  judgmental. The earlier addiction is treated, the better. Don’t wait for your loved one to hit bottom! Be prepared for excuses and denial by listing specific examples of your loved one’s behavior that has you worried.

* Take care of yourself. Don’t get so caught up in someone else’s drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support. And stay safe. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations.

* Avoid self-blame. You can support a person with a substance abuse problem and encourage treatment, but you can’t force an addict to change. You can’t control your loved one’s decisions. Let the person accept responsibility for his or her actions, an essential step along the way to recovery for drug addiction.

But Don’t

* Attempt to punish, threaten, bribe, or preach.

* Try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to use drugs.

* Cover up or make excuses for the drug abuser, or shield them from the negative consequences of their behavior.

* Take over their responsibilities, leaving them with no sense of importance or dignity.

* Hide or throw out drugs.

* Argue with the person when they are high.

* Take drugs with the drug abuser.

* Feel guilty or responsible for another's behavior.

When your teen has a drug problem

Discovering your child uses drugs can generate fear, confusion, and anger in parents. It’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen, and only do so when everyone is sober. Explain your concerns and make it clear that your concern comes from a place of love. It’s important that your teen feels you are supportive.

Five steps parents can take:

* Lay down rules and consequences. Your teen should understand that using drugs comes with specific consequences. But don’t make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. Make sure your spouse agrees with the rules and is prepared to enforce them.

* Monitor your teen’s activity. Know where your teen goes and who he or she hangs out with. It’s also important to routinely check potential hiding places for drugs—in backpacks, between books on a shelf, in DVD cases or make-up cases, for example. Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of him or her having been caught using drugs.

* Encourage other interests and social activities. Expose your teen to healthy hobbies and activities, such as team sports and afterschool clubs.

* Talk to your child about underlying issues. Drug use can be the result of other problems. Is your child having trouble fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress?

 * Get Help. Teenagers often rebel against their parents but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Try a sports coach, family doctor, therapist, or drug counselor.

* There are many misconceptions about how to help a drug addict. Some people believe conquering a drug addiction is a matter of will power, and an addict who truly wants to end the dependency on drugs can easily turn away from the narcotic. However, drug addiction is much more complex than simply altering behavior. In order to help a drug addict, one must understand that addiction is a chronic brain disease and the battle to overcome it will most certainly be hard fought
Consider staging an intervention so the addict’s loved ones can demonstrate how the drug abuse is affecting them.

* An intervention may also include the addict’s colleagues and religious representatives (if appropriate). While an intervention will likely be overwhelming to the addict, the intent is not to put the addict on the defensive, and you should carefully select intervention participants.

* Prior to the intervention, develop at least one treatment plan to offer to the addict. The intervention will mean little if the addict does not know how to get help and does not have the support of loved ones. The loved ones staging the intervention may consider enrolling the addict in a treatment program prior to the intervention without the addict’s knowledge.

* Participants should prepare specific examples of how their loved one’s drug abuse has hurt them. Often, those staging an intervention choose to write letters to the addict. An addict may not care about self-destructive behaviors, but seeing the pain drug abuse inflicts on others can be a powerful motivator for seeking help.

* Do not wait until the addict’s behavior has spiraled so far out of control that relationships and situations cannot be repaired. Ideally, the addict should seek help for addiction before consequences, such as job loss, abuse and neglect of loved ones and financial ruin, occur.

* Be prepared to offer specific consequences if the addict rejects seeking treatment. These consequences must not be empty threats, so the addict’s loved ones should consider the consequences they will impose if the addict does not seek treatment and be willing to follow through with them.

*Find an appropriate drug rehabilitation program. If the addict is going to be escorted to the drug treatment center directly from the intervention, arrangements must be made beforehand. If an intervention is not necessary, assist the addict in researching both the addiction and recommended drug treatment plans. Be supportive and allow the addict to feel in control of the impending rehabilitation. Contact several rehabilitation clinics and inquire about their services. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about their daily schedules and how they handle relapses. Ask if you may tour the facility, and keep in mind that the more receptive the addict is of the treatment plan, the better the chances of overcoming the addiction.

*Expect relapses. Because drug addiction is a chronic disease, it can be managed, but not cured. Relapses will most likely happen, and the addict should not consider a relapse a failure. However, treatment will be needed following each relapse.

* Be the best friend you can be. Be there for them (text, call, see them, do fun activities, play sports, hang out, and support their hobbies and interests often. This means you should also hang out with them or suggest a favorite activity of theirs (no matter how much you don't like it) when they try to shrug off or are offered their substance. Try to remain positive in your outings with them. They need to know that there will be people to support them on the road to recovery.

*Encourage and suggest the potential freedoms of new, healthier lifestyles, when the addict recovers.

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