Addiction is a very tricky disease. It is one that tells you aren’t sick. It is one that, although the countless adverse effects, people still repeat the same destructive behaviors. Addiction manipulates the brain in such a way, that the addict genuinely believes that they will eventually be able to control their use…and outcomes.
This thinking is not only false and delusion, but it fatal. Many times you’ll hear the loved one of an addict ask, “What will it take for them to stop?” Family members and friends of the addict are desperate to find a solution…anything to save the person they care about so much.
Sometimes, the desperation of families turns into a last-ditch effort. They think “scaring them straight” may be the answer. Some will have their loved one arrested, others will research overdose statistics in an attempt to scare the addict in their life. Unfortunately, these efforts are often met with resistance, or they are downright ignored.
Attempting to scare someone sober simply does not work. An addict or alcoholic must be willing and ready to enter into recovery. However, there are numerous things the family can do to encourage the possibility of recovery. Furthermore, there are several outside influences and life circumstances that can serve as a rock bottom or turning point for the addict.
In the end, it boils down to pain and consequences. The addict will only get sober once they have felt enough pain from their actions. That can be family troubles, legal consequences, a moral and spiritual rock bottom, and so on.
Here are some of the many consequences that an addict can endure to steer them in the direction of recovery.
Loss of Family Support
Although you may not be able to scare an addict into recovery, you can do things to hold them accountable. Enabling behavior is a top offender for many family members. This is not your fault. Often times, families do not even realize they are enabling the addict in their life.
If you are financially supporting your loved one who uses drugs and alcohol, you may want to reevaluate that behavior. If you allow them to live in your home, and they are unwilling to change, you can change that too. If you are constantly bailing them out of trouble, or making excuses for their behaviors, that should stop.
We understand it may be difficult to hold firm lines with a family member, but it is necessary for both of you. An addict or alcoholic will have no reason to change, if you are there to take care of them and their needs. Additionally, your mental and physical health can and will eventually suffer, from continuing to participate in a toxic relationship with them.
Whatever your boundaries may be regarding the addict in your life, you must set them and hold true to them. If you say something is unacceptable, make sure they know you are serious.
Getting in trouble with the law is common for many individuals who suffer from addiction. It is also a common reason why someone will finally ask for help.
No one wakes up one day and says they want to become an addict or a criminal. So, when the law finally catches up with someone who suffers from this disease, it can be a turning point. It is just another reminder to the addict that their life has become something unrecognizable. As this becomes their rock bottom, they realize this is not what they intended for themselves and it can be used as motivation to change.
While this can be a turning point for many, it is not necessarily for everyone. Some addicts and alcoholics will get in trouble with the law many times, before they find sobriety. Everyone’s rock bottom is different.
It is important to remember those boundaries you set for yourself during these times. It is possible to support them emotionally, but still allow them to face up to their mistakes. Their consequences need to be their own. You cannot take on the responsibility of fixing these troubles for them.
Abusing drugs and alcohol can certainly take a toll on one’s career or academic future. The potential termination of employment or expulsion from school can be a driving force for change.
Thankfully, as addiction becomes recognized more as the disease it is, many employers and academic institutions have put resources in place to help those who suffer from chemical dependency.
Some employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), where counseling and/or treatment is provided, while others may offer short-term disability. Additionally, FMLA could be an option, while the addict receives the treatment they need.
Many universities and colleges throughout the country now offer what is called Collegiate Recovery Programs. While they all vary in offered services, many provide counseling and therapy, sober dorms and/or housing, sober support, local and on-campus 12 step meetings, and so on.
If your loved one’s employment or academic career is in jeopardy, you can recommend that they look into the resources available to them. It is important that they know help is available. Otherwise, they may feel trapped and alone in trying to figure out how to fix their current situation.
Unfortunately, after years of continued drug and alcohol abuse, many can suffer from various medical conditions and health problems. Addicts and alcoholics are virtually ingesting poison on a daily basis, so it is only inevitable that their health will begin to deteriorate.
Some common health conditions can include a weakened immune system, cognitive changes, dental problems, injuries caused during intoxication, unintended or unwanted pregnancy, cardiovascular issues, infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis C or HIV, liver damage, cirrhosis, and so on.
If your loved one is currently experiencing health problems due to their addiction, it is time for them to get help. If they are unwilling to accept help at this time, let them know that you will support them when they are ready, but will no longer stand by and watch them continue to harm themselves.
Sadly, homelessness becomes a reality for many caught in the grips of addiction. Some find themselves without a place to live because of decades of continued use, and others may “couch hop” from one friend’s house to the next, because their parents kicked them out.
Although a very severe consequence, it may be the only thing to spark change in some individuals.
Surviving an overdose can be a “wake-up call” for many addicts, ultimately becoming their rock bottom.
Unfortunately, we are no stranger to drug overdoses, especially with the current opioid crisis taking place in our country. Drug overdoses are now the number one cause for accidental death in the United States.
If your loved one suffers from addiction, it is imperative that you understand how to address an overdose if it ever occurs. Educating yourself on overdose warning signs, getting trained in CPR, and even purchasing Narcan are some of the many things you can to do stay prepared.
Hopefully, you will never have to use those tools, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Addiction is not black and white. What may be a turning point for one person, may hold no ground for another. Ultimately, the addict must be ready and willing to get sober. Attempting to use scare tactics to influence sobriety may backfire.
As the family and friends of an addict, you may feel completely helpless. It is important that you find support and help for yourself during this time. Whether it be attending a local support group or seeking out professional help, there are plenty of resources available to you as well.
Let your loved one know what your boundaries are, and hold true to them. Don’t allow the unacceptable to become the acceptable.
It is possible to still support and love the addict in your life, without compromising your own morals and values.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism or chemical dependency, we can help.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing the highest quality of addiction treatment services to the suffering individual. We also offer support and educational resources to the affected family unit, through our Family Educational Program.
If you are ready to change your life, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. We look forward to receiving your call today.