When To Seek Help for Addiction
It’s hard to know when someone’s crossed the line from having fun with a substance, person, or enjoying her favorite food, to becoming addicted to them. According to drugabuse.gov, The National Drug Institute states that, over $600 billion dollars is spent annually in healthcare, lost time at work, and crime because of substance abuse. These totals don’t include costs related to other forms of addiction, but do point to the fact that substance abuse is a rampant problem. For many people struggling with this problem, it shows they are certainly not alone. Twenty-three million Americans suffer from substance addiction and 14.5% of 12-17 year old kids in the U.S. drink alcohol, exposing them to an increased risk of addiction and abuse. Given these high numbers, when is it the right time to seek help for addiction?
Clinically, many experts disagree on the best path. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as:
A primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. While some say it is important for a person to seek help when she is ready, others believe outside influence is most needed. This can include a family intervention, court-order, or employer-mandate to seek help.
However, the problem with the latter option is that though this kind of intervention might be necessary for someone facing addiction, unless he is ready to get help, the relapse rate is much higher. In fact, most people suffering from addiction relapse at least once on their substance of addiction and countless people are not able to stay away from a substance for good. Those becoming well after addiction face numerous challenges that can trigger their desire or need to use the substance once again. These include:
- Strong emotions, such as anxiety, anger, sadness, rage, or fear
- Overwhelming feelings about life, whether employment, home life or any new change
- Loss of a job or partner or family member whether to death or the ending of a relationship
- Boredom, longing for the adventure and drama of their old “using” days
The longer a user stays away from a substance, the less likely she is to relapse based on these triggers. Those suffering from addiction find they must change their life in many ways and these important changes mean a decrease in the likelihood of relapse.
Helping Someone Suffering From Addiction
The best way to help someone caught in addiction is with love and patience.
- Do show them consistent patience and compassion
- Do listen to them if they need to talk
- Do let them know you’re there for them if they want help
- Don’t put yourself in harm’s way of their active addiction, if they are out of control or angry
- Don’t overextend yourself, listening longer than you want to or giving money when it doesn’t feel right
- Don’t do anything with the expectation they will act differently
Someone dealing with active addiction cannot think logically or rationally when using. It’s unrealistic to believe he can hear or see what someone is saying. Instead, be consistent in kindness, but don’t overdo this. Allowing someone to sleep on a couch for a few nights is normal in any situation, but to move in or do so for weeks, may not be. Offering a ride makes sense, but being a chauffeur does not. Treat a person with addiction how someone would treat any normal situation, as if the person is healthy and capable. The affliction can only be stopped when the user herself decides to do so.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Seek Help?
Everyone likes enjoying the pleasures of life, from a great glass of wine, to a new relationship, or a piece of chocolate cake. Overindulging from time to time, or for a period in one’s life, can be normal. After all, no one is perfect. A person has become addicted when a substance of choice becomes the sole focus of his life, for a consistent period of time and negatively impacts other areas of life. Whether it’s a minor or major hindrance is not important. Especially given that many minor problems can add up:
- Problems being able to focus on the job or being terminated
- Financial impact, however nominal
- Relationship problems, fighting over the substance or chronic conflict
- Health problems directly caused by the substance – weight gain or loss, organ ailments, skin problems or hair/tooth loss
These are just some of the signs it’s time to seek help. However, many people feel emotionally lost and are unsure. If so, it’s still a good idea to seek help by finding out more information.
Seeking inpatient treatment, either long-term or short-term, can be very beneficial for an addict. Treatment centers provide a safe place, clinical help and education for those who want to stop their addiction. Deciding when to seek help for addiction is a hard decision. But for those who make this step, it is a challenging but rewarding choice.