Category: Addiction Help

how to help a drug addict

We Need to Talk, Now. How to Help a Drug Addict Realize Their Problem

Observing a friend or family member in the throes of addiction can make anyone feel helpless.

Their personality begins to change and they start to feel like a stranger. You watch as their drug dependency drains them of their potential.

As their loved one, you don’t have to sit back and watch them self-destruct.

Telling some you’re worried about their drug use is never easy. You don’t know how they’ll react or if they will take your words to heart.

But it’s important that you try. Luckily, there are a few approaches that may make the conversation go more smoothly.

Some addicts don’t see that they have a problem until it’s too late. Learn how to help a drug addict realize they need treatment.

Wait Until They’re Sober to Approach Them

Confronting an addict while they’re high is not a good idea for a few reasons.

For one, you’re likely feeling frustrated with them that they’re high again. You should approach the conversation when you can express yourself calmly.

You also want them to be in control of their feelings and reactions. When people are drunk or high, their mood is affected. You don’t want the discussion to escalate into a fight.

Practically speaking, people often don’t remember what happened when they were high. The conversation will have more impact on them if they’re sober.

Starting the Conversation

When they are sober, sit them down privately.

Start by expressing how much you care about them. Then, explain your concerns about their substance use. It’s helpful to have some concrete examples.

It’s effective if these anecdotes show how their drug use is affecting their life. Maybe they were put on probation at work for constantly showing up late. Perhaps a girlfriend dumped them because of their drunk, brutish behavior.

But, as you point out this bad behavior, remain empathetic.

Express Empathy, Not Blame

While you point out these examples, make it clear that though their behavior might be bad, they aren’t bad people. Use empathy to communicate with them instead of blame.

Let them know that you aren’t judging them. You just want to offer them support. After you explain this, have some suggestions for what they should do next.

Next Steps

At this point, your loved one might not be fully convinced they have a problem. In that case, you could suggest that they just see a professional to be evaluated.

If they already know they need treatment, you can offer to help them find a program.

How to Help a Drug Addict: The Takeaway

The answer to the question, “how to help a drug addict?” is never clear and concrete. In the end, they have to be the ones to help themselves. All you can do is be honest while you show them love and support.

Having a loved one with addiction problems can take a toll on your wellbeing. To learn more about our support group offerings, click here.

Defining treatment terms

I caught up with an old friend the other day. For the most part, the encounter was much like when you see a friend for the first time after several years have lapsed. How are you, how is the family, where are you working, what is your job there…?

This particular friend had no knowledge of the substance abuse treatment system and I realized as I saw the blank look on her face that I’d lost her, as if I was speaking a foreign language. That led to an “ah-ha” moment as I thought, how many of our readers have no idea what the terms mean when we are blogging about substance abuse and recovery. That said, our September theme will define many of our treatment terms.

We’ll start with two of the basics, substance abuse and addiction. We’re also going to cheat a little and refer you back to a blog we published earlier this year entitled, “Substance abuse or addiction, which is it?” This piece goes into detail to provide a simple, but comprehensive definition of each and their distinguishing characteristics.

In short, addiction is a physical dependency to a foreign substance – this could range from tobacco to heroin and anything in between. The physical dependency means the body craves the drug and goes into withdrawal symptoms when it is not there.

Substance abuse can be a phase in the process. Many people abuse drugs, but not all become addicted to the substance. One may drink heavily over the weekend, but not drink again for weeks or months. Prescription drugs are abused when they are not used as medically intended, by the person who holds the prescription.

Next week, we’ll look at three types of treatment, detox, residential and outpatient and explain the difference between each.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

 

Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 2

Substance abuse leads to many problems within a community. Issues can range from crime, accidents and injuries as well as death. Many communities across the country have made commitments to fund substance abuse treatment centers in hopes of reducing issues that stem from drug addiction.

Related Blog: Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 1

Here are some facts and stats:

  1. Substance abuse is often the primary reason why children are removed from the custody of their parents. Think about it, how many news reports have you heard about children being taken from a home where drugs were found inside, where children were found home alone because the parents were out buying/using drugs, not to mention the deplorable conditions where these children are often found? The act of taking a child from their parents involves multiple community/state agencies ranging from DCF, to foster care to the legal system where custody issues are heard. Who pays for this? Taxpayers.
  2. In 2008, 65% of Florida prison inmates were identified as needing treatment for substance abuse, which cost the state $2.4 billion that year in crime. This figure includes the cost for law enforcement, jails, the judicial system and incarceration or court-mandated treatment, probation and/or parole. Other things factored in include losses to the victim (theft, etc.) and medical expenses if the individual caused others to suffer injuries during the commission of the crime. Who pays for this? You do through your tax dollars and insurance premiums.
  3. Each hour in Florida, one person loses their life due to alcohol and/or drug use. Annually, $7.2 billion is spent due to traffic accidents. The annual cost of hospital stays due to drug abuse related situations and illnesses cost $103 million. Who pays for this? You do through tax dollars and insurance premiums.

In total, a study published in 2009 showed that each year in Florida, all of the negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse cost $43.7 billion.

Treatment is less expensive and more effective than incarceration. Treatment keeps families together or allows for the opportunity of reunification. Treatment reduces the amount of time, money and energy spent on drug-related medical expenses. Treatment saves lives. If you are wondering if your investment to pay for treatment for a family member is worthwhile, the answer is yes, yes, yes. Without treatment, your family member could be one of these statistics.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program.  Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 1

Some people struggle with the idea of paying for substance abuse treatment and wonder if the expense is worthwhile. In most cases, the answer is yes.

Related Blog: Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 2

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are weighing this decision.

  1. Without substance abuse treatment, chances are, you will never live a life of recovery. While a few individuals may walk away from drugs/alcohol without any sort of intervention, for someone with the disease of addiction this is very rare. While substance abuse/addiction is not curable, it is manageable. Part of the treatment and recovery process is learning how to manage the disease. Those who never seek treatment often die from an overdose or medical complications due to the substance abuse.
  2. There are individuals who enter treatment and relapse a short period after leaving the treatment facility. Often times, these individuals either did not fully engage in treatment, utilize the 12-Step community recovery meetings or attend aftercare meetings. Or, they returned to the same living/work situation where they were regularly presented with opportunities to drink/use drugs. Sometimes, it takes multiple treatment episodes before individuals put all of these pieces together successfully.
  3. Those who complete treatment and embrace their recovery make comments stating how they wish they’d gotten help sooner, that their life has never been so good, and that a bad day in recovery is still better than any day when they were using. Being in recovery allows people to regain control over their life. One aspect of treatment teaches people how to do this. From the standpoint of a treatment facility, nothing is more rewarding than hearing that a client who has been clean for one, two, three, five, 10, 15, 20 or more years has maintained their sobriety and is doing well both personally and professionally.
  4. Even if you are clean for a long period of time and then relapse, your experience in treatment and recovery will help you put the pieces together after your relapse. Regardless if it is calling a sponsor, attending a recovery meeting or reaching out to your old counselor, you know how good life in recovery can be and the steps you need to take to get back to the recovery community.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program.  Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works.  For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

 

Bill Carter’s Interview About the Problems With Medicaid

Recently, First Step’s Bill Carter was interviewed by ABC 7 News about the problems with Medicaid, and why many cannot afford to provide health care for themselves and their families.

Click here to watch the news story.

For more on how to how to finance your healthcare, visit our website or contact us at Pathways Florida today.

5 Tips to Prevent Relapse

Relapse is a common factor of the recovery process. Here are some tips to help you stay sober and avoid relapse.

Related Blog: Five Common Reasons People Relapse

  1. Know your triggers
    Maybe your trigger is a person, place or thing. Maybe your trigger is a neighborhood or environment. When possible, avoid your triggers. If you work in sales and would typically have a drink to celebrate closing a big deal, you need to have a plan of a new way to celebrate this accomplishment. This is a trigger and unless you change careers, you will have to make adaptions for your new sober lifestyle.
  2. Develop your support network
    Your support network can be made up of people that are and are not part of the recovery community. You develop your network by going to aftercare and 12-Step meetings, spending free time with family members who are not drinking or using drugs and by meeting people at drug-free and alcohol free events/environments. These individuals should be aware of your triggers and be comfortable keeping you accountable for your actions.
  3. Structure and routine
    Having a structured life and routine that does not include much downtime that could lead to relapse is key. As simple as it sounds, the routine of getting up, making breakfast, making the beds, showering and preparing to go to work, working, exercise, 12-step or aftercare meetings, journaling, child care, preparing meals, etc. can really help. Set a routine and follow it. Keep your days full and use downtime wisely.
  4. Aftercare
    Attending aftercare and 12-Step meetings plays a key role in maintaining recovery. Aftercare helps people in recovery stay focused, avoid triggers, and develop support networks. It should be part of the structure and routine you have created to maintain sobriety.
  5. Journaling/meditating
    Everyone has a different way of dealing with the daily stresses they face. While those in active addiction will use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, those in recovery are urged to find other coping mechanisms. Two of these tools are journaling and meditating. Journaling allows the writer to honestly write down thoughts, experiences, fears and feelings. Meditating combats negative feelings by creating a relaxed state.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Pros and Cons of Medication-Assisted Treatment

There are mixed beliefs about using products such as Methadone and Suboxone to help those addicted to drugs. Traditionally, abstinence from opiates (most prescription drugs, heroin, etc.) is very challenging. Medication-assisted treatment can be used to wean individuals from using these drugs, making the withdrawal process more tolerable. Both suppress the user’s desire to use opiates. Both drugs will produce a “high,” and in theory, this is great.

Related Blog: Recovery and Prescription Medications

However, both have a long list of potential side effects and present dangers if not used properly. In addition, both can become a crutch and are open to being abused.

Methadone is used to provide assistance to heroin users and make the detox process less uncomfortable. However, the detox from methadone can be more painful than the detox from opiates. The problem associated with it is that many people begin using it as a crutch and become dependent on the methadone. Suboxone also causes the user to lose the urge to use. If they do use, they do not get the normal high they would get if they were not using Suboxone.

While these medications may be helpful in some cases, they only treat part of the situation. Medication-assisted treatment does not address emotional or traumatic issues that may have led to substance abuse. Anyone receiving medication-assisted treatment should also be engaged in either residential or outpatient counseling sessions.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Therapy Techniques for Treating Trauma

The link between trauma and substance abuse is very strong. Many clients come to Pathways and express the challenges they have faced in their lives – physical or verbal abuse as a child or in adulthood, vehicle accidents, as victims of violent crimes and in soe cases, military experience. Treating the trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a key component to treating the individual’s substance abuse disorder because until the trauma is resolved, the person will continue to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and/or cope with the trauma they’ve faced.

Related Blog: Trauma and Addiction

Several evidence-based treatment methods have proven effective in working with trauma/PTSD clients. The most common ones are listed below.

Prolonged-exposure therapy – A therapist guides the client to recall traumatic memories in a controlled fashion so that clients eventually regain mastery of their thoughts and feelings around the incident. While exposing people to the very events that caused their trauma may seem counterintuitive, when done in a gradual, controlled and repeated manner, until the person can evaluate their circumstances realistically and understand they can safely return to the activities in their current lives that they had been avoiding.

Cognitive-processing therapy – A form of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, developed to treat rape victims and later applied to PTSD. This treatment includes an exposure component but places greater emphasis on cognitive strategies to help people alter erroneous thinking that has emerged because of the event. Practitioners may work with clients on false beliefs that the world is no longer safe, for example, or that they are incompetent because they have “let” a terrible event happen to them.

Stress-inoculation training – Another form of CBT, where practitioners teach clients techniques to manage and reduce anxiety, such as breathing, muscle relaxation and positive self-talk.

Certified Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT) – A revolutionary and holistic psychotherapeutic approach to healing and positive behavioral change that eliminates the negative, emotional and behavioral influence of traumatic events, clearing, organizing and optimizing the mind so that the root cause of problems are cleared and positive change can endure.

Not all treatment centers hire counselors who have experience in these treatment methods. Pathways has multiple counselors who specialize in and/or are certified in PTSD/trauma methodologies and use either CBT or RRT techniques.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Why Did I Relapse?

Relapse is not uncommon for those in recovery. Some say that it often takes a series of relapses before someone is truly successful in the recovery world. Often, success means making great changes in your lifestyle – who your associates are, where you live, where you work, as well as “unlearning” inappropriate behaviors that could result in substance use.

Recovery is a process. Generally, the process begins with admitting that there is a problem, detoxing, getting treatment for the issue, developing a plan for aftercare, transition and relapse prevention and finally living a life of recovery.

Related Blog: What Should I Do If I Have a Sponsor and I’m Still Using?

In order for the recovery process to be successful, clients need to engage with their counselors and others in the recovery community. Additionally, if internal issues, such as a trauma that may have led to the initial substance abuse, are not fully addressed, the chances of relapse increase.

Some counselors suggest clients change everything, even music, friends, jobs, living arrangements etc. Music has a great ability to trigger thoughts and feelings. If you had a favorite song you liked to hear when you were high, don’t listen to that song. If your friends used drugs, use ties to the recovery community to make friends with individuals who will support your efforts rather than sabotage them. If you are an alcoholic working in an establishment that serves alcohol, you may want to look for other employment, if drug use is normal part of life in your neighborhood, consider moving to a transitional, sober or half-way house arrangement as you grow and strengthen your resolve to stay clean.

They key to relapse prevention is knowing your triggers and working the program and aftercare program outlined for you by your counselors on a daily basis. In some cases, repeated treatment episodes will be necessary until you are able to make recovery a full part of your lifestyle.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988 or visit our website.

Why Will Nothing Cure my Child’s Addiction?

A common misconception to addiction is that following a treatment episode, someone may be “cured” of the disease. Addiction is similar to diabetes and hypertension in the sense that it is an incurable, but manageable disease. While someone with diabetes must watch their diet and check their insulin, and those with hypertension also maintain regiment of diet, exercise and stress-relief exercises, someone diagnosed with an addiction will need to follow a daily regimen to remain sober. Those who enter a treatment program will be taught the importance of following a schedule, attending meetings, doing step work and other behavioral changes that may have been part of the treatment plan. When an individual, especially those who are new to recovery, takes a lax attitude about maintaining recovery, the likelihood of relapse increases. Addiction will not “just go away” overnight and even those who have 10 or 20 years clean can still succumb to a relapse.

Related Blog: Why Recovery Meetings Alone May Not be Working

The individuals who have the best success in treatment are those who enter a treatment facility who addresses their needs, engages in the treatment process and follows the aftercare plan and relapse prevention plan faithfully.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.