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How to Get a Loved One to Seek Help for Addiction


If a loved one is dealing with an addiction, getting help for them can be a top priority. Seeing this person’s life slowly slip out of control can be hard to witness, making it even more evident that something needs to be done quickly. However, trying to tackle the problem could be causing concern, as this is something that most are not equipped to deal with. One problem of dealing with an addicted loved one is the fact that this person will usually deny that there is an issue. Most addicts do not think there is a problem, especially in the beginning. They will usually be enjoying their habit, not wanting to consider the possibility that they need to give it up. They can only see the perceived benefits derived from their actions and either do not care or just do not see how it may be affecting others in their lives.

Be Aware That This May be a Long Journey

An addict will not stop what they are doing simply because you have asked them to. It just does not work this way. They have an illness that needs to be addressed and you cannot force them to seek help if they do not want it. It is necessary for the addict to realise that there is a problem before the issue can be rectified; this might be the most difficult task of all. Once the person has admitted that they are suffering with an addiction, they can then start thinking about getting some help. It might be a long, hard road but, for an addict to recover, the support of loved ones is vital. Identifying the root of the problem is a good place to start; one of the more common triggers for an addiction is low self-esteem.

What Causes Addiction?

Why are some people more susceptible to addiction than others? Many families ask this question. How can a person go from being happy and contented to someone dependent on a particular substance or something equally destructive, such as gambling? Recent research has suggested that alcoholism may be inherited, the result of a particular set of genes.

When it comes to drugs, we know that the chemicals in some substances can affect the way information is processed by the brain. Drugs can over-stimulate the brain’s ‘reward circuit’ by flooding it with dopamine. This neurotransmitter is responsible for a number of processes, including controlling the hormones connected to pleasure and motivation. When the reward circuit is over stimulated, pleasure is heightened, which is why so many people quickly become addicted to the specific substances that have induced the pleasurable feelings. However, the body learns to adapt to the increased dopamine levels it is subjected to, resulting in the stimulus becoming less effective over time. For the user to get the same ‘high’ therefore, he or she will need more and more of the stimulus. This obviously leads to a pattern of abuse or addiction.

Reasons Why Addicts May Not Want to Quit

It is difficult for someone who has never found themselves dependent on a substance to understand why an addict behaves in the way they do. The non-addicted person can rely on logic and reasoning but for the addict this is not so easy. An addict will not see things in the same way that a non-addict does. He or she will be in denial, believing that the substance they are addicted to is the only thing making them feel better. They will probably find it hard to comprehend why you want to take this away from them.

An addict will be well equipped with a number of excuses as to why they need the alcohol, drugs, or the thrill of gambling. The reasons why they turned to drugs or alcohol in the first place may be perfectly valid reasons in their eyes. Maybe life was a mess; maybe it felt as if there was no one to turn to or there was no way out of a particular situation. People will rarely turn to substance abuse if they are truly happy with life. Finding the root of the problem is always a good place to start. To help an addict on the road to recovery, they will need help coming to terms with the reason they became dependent in the first place.

An addict may only ever want to quit if they can be made to see that what they are doing is having a negative effect on themselves and those around them. They need to be made aware of how much better off they would be if they attempted a life of sobriety. This can be a difficult thing for loved ones to achieve, which is why in a lot of instances, a qualified therapist is the best person to help.

How Bad Will it Get?

One question many ask when they are faced with an addicted loved is one of ‘how bad will this get?” Often the loved ones think things cannot get any worse, but are proved wrong. An addict will often have to hit their ‘rock bottom’ before things start to improve. However, ‘rock bottom’ is simply the point at which the addict admits things need to change. Only when they can accept that things are bad and that they need help will it get any better. Therefore, the answer to how bad will things get is that no one actually knows. Every person is different and those who are addicted will vary in terms of what triggers a change and when they recognise that they have to get better. One person’s ‘rock bottom’ may not be nearly as bad as someone else’s, which is something that loved ones will have to deal with in the best way they know how. There are options for loved ones to get help and advice for dealing with these emotional issues, with our site here at Addiction Helpline a good example.

How to Initiate a Recovery

Tackling an addict head on can cause them to become resentful of you. They will no doubt deny the problem exists and will probably become defensive to the point where you may feel like giving up. There are better ways of dealing with the problem. However, loved ones of an addict are not usually experienced enough to handle the problem on their own initially. As time goes by, they will no doubt become more knowledgeable on the subject. This can occur by speaking to others in the same situation or through help and advice from qualified therapists.

One method that can help is an intervention – this is where the addict is faced with a number of people in a group setting who all want to help him or her quit. When there is more than one loved one saying the same thing, the addict may be more likely to respond in a positive way by coming to terms with the fact that there is a problem.

At Addiction Helpline, we have compassionate experts ready to offer help and advice to those who want to help their addicted loved one recover from addiction. We can offer support and can advise on the various treatment options available for those addicted to substances such as drugs or alcohol or for those whose loved one has a gambling addiction.

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