The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 25,000 alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicides, occur every year and drug abuse-related deaths, according to ABC News, outnumbered traffic-related deaths in the U.S in 2011.If you have a friend or loved one who is recovering from their addiction to drugs or alcohol, your support will mean the world to them as they attempt to piece their life back together and return to some semblance of normalcy.But before you can even show that support, it’s important that you understand a bit about addiction itself.Read more: Recovery Help
What is addiction?
There are a number of models that attempt to describe addiction and its origins. Here are a few commonly held beliefs.The Disease Model describes addiction as a progressive or chronic condition that develops through stages, much as a physical, organic disease does. The assumption is that addiction is not curable, only treatable.The Psychological Model indicates that addiction is brought on by psychological stress that can seem to only be repaired through substance abuse. As a result, drugs or alcohol are used as a way to cope with these stresses.
In terms of treatment, recovery, and how you can show your support, consider both of these explanations of addiction to be true, and oftentimes they are related. Addiction is a condition including a lack of control brought on by a chemical imbalance that characterizes and defines the problem. Whether the individual was initially trying to alleviate mental or physical pain, lessen stress, or simply give in to social pressures, once their bodies become accustomed to their substance of choice, they become dependent on the chemicals it provides.
Even worse, the more addicts use a particular substance, the more their bodies build up a tolerance and the more they need just to feel normal – let alone return to that “high” that attracted them to the drug or drink in the first place. This is where things get out of hand, and for some people, it’s worse than others due to their family history or psychological issues that influence tendency to become reliant on these substances.
Ways to Show Support and Encouragement
Those who do not suffer from the effects of substance abuse, and sometimes even those who are recovering addicts themselves, often want to reach out and help other recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.If a person has never been “in their shoes,” it is important to first understand a bit about what the substance abuser has endured. Groups such as Al-Anon (http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/) and Cocaine Anonymous (www.ca.org/) are just a few great places to start. At these group meetings, you’ll learn firsthand how the experience of addiction has affected people, and you’ll gain an understanding of the addict’s burden and learn a number of important things.
You are powerless
The first thing many caregivers come to recognize when dealing with an addict is that they are powerless to control them without proper treatment. An addict will often do or say anything to feed his or her addiction, and nothing the caregiver can do or say will be perceived as being more powerful than the effects of the addict’s chosen substance.
You need boundaries
Setting boundaries is extremely important when dealing with the addictive individual. This firmly establishes what is okay and what’s not. Addicts will often manipulate and make excuses for their behavior. If you make it clear that you do not wish to be in their presence when they are drunk or under the influence of drugs, you not only define roles and expectations, but also encourage healthier behavior.
You are not responsible
It is also wise to practice detachment. You can care for an addict without being responsible for their actions or becoming emotionally caught up in their often-difficult circumstances. Rules to follow: Do not clean up their messes, social or financial. Do not cover for their mistakes. And do not facilitate their diminished condition by doing things they would be doing for themselves were they functioning at a higher level.
Talk to the addict about getting help
An informal intervention or conversation might work with some addicts and get the ball rolling in the direction of recovery. A formal intervention is a bit trickier. Organizing a group of people to confront the addict may make the person feel attacked or betrayed. Make sure to seek professional help from counselors or consult treatment centers to support you through the intervention.Dealing with the addict may be a difficult task, but with the right techniques you can really make a difference.
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