Drug abuse can cause serious damage to many aspects of an individual’s life. Substance use can lead to more severe medical concerns, a decrease in mental health, difficulty in maintaining employment, and relationship challenges. From an outside perspective, it can be difficult watching a loved one struggle through the pains of addiction. For some, a fleeting thought of I think my friend is addicted to drugs, is enough to be cause for concern. But what do you do?
Substance addiction extends well beyond the individual using the substance. It can permeate all areas of life, including connections and relationships with family and friends. Drug addiction can cause a significant amount of stress for those supporting an individual with a drug or alcohol addiction. The challenges that may occur for family and friends are extensive and can range in severity. It is important to address the impact of addiction on family and friends as they often provide a healing component to a loved one struggling with addiction.
What are the Impacts of Addiction?
A person’s addiction carries extreme consequences that are not only limited to the individual abusing substances. Addiction is a demanding disease. It’s often rooted in ambiguity, deception, lies, and secrets. The impact of this disease is so great that friends seek, and often fail, to make sense of it. Reality is quickly morphed into something that causes harm to everyone involved. While the addicted person rationalizes using, loved ones begin to do the same. Excuses are sought. Justifications made. And intolerable and abusive behaviors become the norm. It’s a cycle exacerbated only by the health consequences that begin to arise.
From a high-level perspective, addiction doesn’t make sense. It’s an illogical, irrational brain disease that’s progressive and cyclical in nature. Many struggle with the thought of addiction (I think my friend is addicted to drugs), but are unsure of what to do to handle it. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, scared, unsure, and even worried about the long-term consequences like health ramifications and even death. It’s not far reaching to be worried for your friend, no matter how minor or severe their problem may appear from the outside. Gaining perspective from addiction specialists is key.
Common physical and emotional problems that may occur in a person dealing with addiction include:
- Liver damage
- Brain damage
- Mental illness
- Heart disease
- Pancreatic damage
Other consequences that may occur include social consequences such as:
- Financial troubles
- Relationship challenges
- Lack of employment
- Legal problems
- Decreased self-care hygiene
What Impact Does Addiction Have on Family and Friends?
Addiction does not only impact the person using alcohol and drugs, but extends into surrounding relationships as well. Becoming aware of addictive behaviors is highly encouraged. Developing awareness of potential addiction within a family or a friend relationship is a proactive skill that can help address addictive behaviors before they become more damaging. Common ways addiction may impact family and friends of a person dealing with addiction include:
- Decreased quality of life
- Increased medical concerns
- Sleep problems
- Relationship problems
How Do I Know If a Friend or Family Member Struggles with Addiction?
Becoming aware of an addiction in a family or friendship system can be difficult, however the importance of noticing addictive behaviors remains. Knowing when a friend or a family member is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction is a powerful treatment component. Many treatment facilities, counselors, and physicians encourage healthy and safe support systems for those struggling with addiction. Many resources are available to help address a potential substance use disorder for family and friends. Common addictive behaviors to become aware of include:
- Explosive behaviors
- Financial problems
- Fixation on a substance
Family & Friends: Finding Support
Yes. Getting support for friends and family is crucial. It can help buffer the impact alcohol and other drugs may have on family and friends of an individual with an addiction. Proper support for family and friends is also important, as it can help the individual with the addiction become more aware of the impact of their behaviors. Many Colorado treatment programs utilize a safe support system to help achieve and maintain a sober lifestyle for the individual struggling with alcohol and drug use. Becoming aware of how to support a loved one with addiction is critical and is highly encouraged. Because of the importance of family and friends and the role they play in treatment, many programs have been developed to help address the indirect impact of addiction on others. Support options for family and friends include:
What is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon is a 12-step program created to help family and friends deal with the struggles of alcoholism within their relationship with an alcoholic. It is often used in tandem with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Alcoholics Anonymous is a treatment program that focuses on the individual dealing with alcohol consumption, while Al-Anon will cater to the family and friends dealing with the addiction.
What is Nar-Anon?
Nar-Anon is another 12-step program designed to help family and friends who are caring for a loved one who is struggling with narcotics use. It is often used in tandem with Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.). Narcotics Anonymous focuses on the user, while Nar-Anon is focused on the family and friends. Common narcotics include:
For additional Colorado Rehab Resources and information visit our resources page here.
I Think My Friend is Addicted to Drugs. Is An Intervention Needed?
Interventions are carefully planned processes for letting a loved one know about the impact of their addiction on themselves and others. They can be highly successful if done properly. However, they can also be quite difficult and damaging if not handled correctly. This is why many people opt to hire a professional to lead the intervention.
In most cases, you will not need a formal intervention to address a loved one’s addictive behaviors. In fact, many interventions are discouraged unless they are performed and guided by a trained professional. Intervention techniques can be beneficial in severe cases of addiction, but it is highly encouraged to discuss this matter with a substance use or abuse counselor prior to engaging in an intervention.
Can I Help During Treatment?
Supporting a loved one through the rehabilitation process is very important. Knowing the signs of a potential relapse and becoming comfortable with holding an individual accountable is powerful. It can mean the difference between relapse and recovery. Supporting a loved one throughout treatment can be difficult. The impact that social support has on rehabilitation has been extensively researched. Common ways a supportive relationship can help a loved one with addiction include:
- Developing purpose and meaning
- Accountability for treatment
- Decreased chance for relapse
- Increased quality of life
- Developing safe and healthy independent lifestyle
How Can AspenRidge Help?
AspenRidge is dedicated to tailoring treatment as much as possible to each client. With many different treatment plans and programs, we are certain that we can find one for your and your loved ones’ needs.
AspenRidge has developed part of their treatment to properly train and prepare supportive family and friends. The challenges that occur due to mental health and substance abuse are challenging and impact several components of a family. It is the hope of AspenRidge to provide a safe environment for all members of a family to experience long term sobriety and recovery.
Prospective clients may contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers at 855-678-3144 to schedule an assessment or to speak to staff about various programs. Gaining knowledge prior to taking the steps towards recovery is important and AspenRidge is determined to provide clear information.