Dealing With Addiction: How You Can Help
If you suspect a loved one is abusing alcohol or other drugs, it can be difficult to know how to help. Understanding the signs and symptoms of drug abuse and addiction can help you be aware of a problem.
What is Addiction?
Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both. Physical addiction is bodily dependence on a drug, meaning a person may need more of the drug to achieve the same effect or “high.” He or she also may develop withdrawal symptoms upon stopping drug use. In psychological addiction, there is a mental desire for the substance. An addict’s mind craves the feeling the drug provides, and that person feels emotionally desperate when he or she stops using it.
Symptoms of drug addiction include:
- Seeing drugs as a solution
- Taking increasingly greater amounts of the drug
- Mood swings
- Engages in dangerous behavior, such as drunk driving
- Sleeping problems
- Physical withdrawal symptoms
- Weight loss or gain
- Preoccupation with getting drugs
- Loss of interest in school, work, or hobbies
How to Help
Many people who are in recovery from addiction say a friend who cared was the one to help them see they had a problem. If you attempt to intervene, consider these guidelines:
- Meet in a neutral place that does not serve alcohol.
- Do not attempt to talk when your friend is drunk or high.
- Talk about the effect their substance abuse has on others, such as their children. You may also point out how it is affecting their career, schoolwork, or other life goals.
- Be aware of treatment options and offer solutions. Find the local contact information for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). You can also use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment locator.
- If your friend is resistant to the idea of treatment, AA, or NA, talk with others who care to see what other options are possible.
- If you’re very close to the addicted person, you could also consider attending Al-Anon, a group for the friends and family of alcoholics and other addicts. This group can provide resources and an understanding community to help as you support your loved one.
If your loved one needs urgent attention due to overdose or alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. You can trust the care at CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency departments. We’re equipped to handle any emergency, and we dedicate ourselves to providing the most advanced care to our community. For more information and to locate the emergency department nearest you, visit our website.