Addiction affects not only users, but also their families and friends. Here are some actions you can take, and not take, to help yourself.
What To Do
- Realize that you’re not alone.
- Take care of yourself by attending Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or Alateen programs.
- Find a therapist or counselor who understands addiction treatment and recovery and how addiction affects families.
- Keep in mind that withdrawal is biological, and the addicted person needs medical intervention.
- Remember that psychologically, a chemically dependent person needs to talk to other chemically dependent people. They can’t do it “on their own.”
- Tell your addicted person that addiction is a medical disease and proper treatment is necessary for them to successfully overcome the disease.
- Remember that treatment works!
- Educate yourself.
- Attend MPI’s free Saturday workshops held every Saturday from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at MPI, 3012 Summit St., 5th Floor, Oakland, CA 94609 (located at the corner of 30th and Summit streets).
- The Disease of Chemical Dependency
- The Family Illness
- Family Intervention
- Treatment and Recovery Issues
- Adolescent Chemical Dependency
What Not To Do
- Think and hope that your addicted person is “in a phase,” and that the condition will pass. It won’t.
- Cover for or make excuses for your addicted person. This tactic may reduce the crisis, but it also perpetuates the illness.
- Allow your addicted person to come home if you don’t want him or her there.
- Let yourself be taken advantage of by the addicted person. This only teaches him or her to avoid responsibility as well as promotes the loss of respect for you.
- Watch your addicted person get worse and go further downhill, because he or she will. Chemical dependency is a progressive disease and gets worse over time.
- Forget that there are family counselors and family treatments available.
Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (877) 967-6606.
MPI can refer you to a professional interventionist who will meet with your family to develop a plan to persuade the addicted person to enter treatment.
Understanding Addiction and Recovery
The use of alcohol and prescription and illicit drugs affects people in different ways with varying degrees of risk and harm. In most cases, using alcohol and drugs starts voluntarily. However, genetics, environmental factors and other health conditions can lead to different results in different people.
- Drug or alcohol addiction may begin with a personal choice to use these substances, but research shows that for many a physiological dependence soon takes hold. Drug dependence produces significant and lasting changes in brain chemistry and function.
- Addiction is a chronic illness, and like other chronic illnesses such a Type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension, it can be successfully treated.
- Chemical dependency is characterized by “loss of control” over the amount of alcohol or drug use. It’s NOT drinking all the time or using all the time. The chemically dependent person may abstain for weeks, months, years or the remainder of his or her life. This “loss of control” is reactivated only when he or she starts drinking or using again.
- Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction can be a lengthy process. An occasional recurrence of drug or alcohol use during recovery is not an indication of failure.
- Chemical dependency tends to create and magnify social and emotional problems rather than being caused by them.
- Chemically dependent people can live full, productive lives without ever drinking or using substances again.