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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Understanding and helping an addict

A woman smoking crack from a glass pipe.Image via Wikipedia

Addiction is a disease that spreads through lives like a virus. It is a painful existence for all those involved and often the end result is death. Families often try many means to save their addict but most of these actions yield little results.  Many addicts end up using the failed tactics as an excuse to use further. There are many ways families deal with their addicted love one.

Shunning, is one way a family may try to teach an addict a "lesson". They feel if they avoid the addict, refuse all contact, and have nothing to do with the addict,  that the addict will learn their lesson and give up the addiction. Unfortunately, this tactic never works. The addict has a replacement for their sentimental attachments to their family, and it is the drug. No longer will withholding communication and love work, the addict has a new love, and it isn't the family anymore.

Reasoning, is also a useless  tool with the addict. Addicts can not be reasoned with because they have a chemically altered mind and as such, they are incapable of understanding legitimate reasoning. If reasoning alone would be effective, there would be no need for treatment. Treatment has to usually come first in order to really have effective reasoning with an addict. Many times the addict will go on the defensive and then use your attempts as an excuse to use more.

What can you do for an addicted family member? There really is only two things you can do for an addicted family member.

What will work
1. The first thing to do is get  them into treatment. See Treatment Centers.  This must be done early in the addiction process.  Failure to put them into a treatment center each and every time they ask for help that is not related to their recovery will set up a revolving door effect with them. They ask, you give, they get high, they become broke, they come back to you. The addict has to know this is the only help you will offer. No money, no rides, no roof over their head.
2. The second form of help for your addicted family member is to have them arrested if they operate a vehicle, care for an underage child, deal, sell or distribute.  This may seem extreme, but because death due to overdose or from a drug related incident is eminent, extreme forces are all that will work.
Love isn't effective
If your love alone could help them, it would be a beautiful thing. Sadly love means little to an addict. To save the addict you must resort to any and all extreme measures to save their life. If you feel you have done all you can, and the addict still hasn't made attempts to get well, you must prepare yourself mentally for their death.

Your health
One thing family members should understand completely is, you have to be well, and happy whether your addicted loved one is or not. It is key that the family surrounding the addict also be well and this is sometimes even harder than getting the addict into treatment. Support should be sought out to help you cope with your life and to master the proper skills and experience to truly help your loved one, and yourself from a lifetime of guilt and pain.  Families must recognize their own need for help, and recovery as well.  See  Online Support Groups. Another great source for family support is Narconon.

The bottom line
 Lastly, your addict has to deep inside want to get well. If they don't feel that deep need and desire they will fail at the recovery. All you can do is put a stop to all support that you have offered that involves anything but the addicts sobriety. 

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