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A loved one – it could be your spouse, partner, son or daughter, sibling, parent or your best friend – is struggling with an addiction and you are watching helplessly wondering what can be done. Providing addiction support as well as getting timely help for the person you care for is not an easy task. Nonetheless, addiction support is crucial and being supportive is the first step in your loved one’s rehabilitation. A person with substance abuse will have a greater chance for alcohol or drug rehab when he or she has someone to turn to – a caregiver.
Where to Look for Help?
Every drug rehab situation is unique; however, if you are considering providing addiction support, it is possible that you are looking for help yourself on how to deal with the task. If you don’t know much about drugs, alcohol, or other substance abuse, you don’t have to look too far. There are plenty of resources you can find on the Internet. You can start off with the Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous websites or even call their helplines. There are plenty of support groups online for families of substance abusers; they can guide you in dealing with your situation.
You can also call up the Centre for Emotion Focused Practice, South Yarra, and ask to discuss with one of our psychology experts on addiction. We hold Narcotics Anonymous meetings every Friday and you can drop in and learn more about drug rehab, get information brochures, and talk freely with other addiction support persons or people in drug rehab who are trying to overcome their problem.
Why Do Substance Abusers Hesitate to Go into Drug Rehab?
Here is what one of the leading psychology experts on addictions in South Yarra has to say:
Substance abusers generally don’t admit to having a problem. Even if they do admit, they do not want to change their ways. Your loved one might also be embarrassed and might not want to talk to you about it. Typically, addicts do not want to go into drug rehab. This could be because of a fear of the upshot – they fear people in their social circle will get to know about their addiction, that they may lose their job, etc. There could be an underlying problem which they want to avoid – the reason they took to the substance in the first place. Grief, loss, family problems, or work issues are some of the reasons why certain people start abusing drugs. Narcotics, alcohol, or oftentimes even prescription drugs provided them with an escape from reality and they took it and became addicted. They may be hesitant to seek professional help because they don’t want to discuss this personal problem.
How Trust Can Convince a Person to Take Up Drug Rehab or Seek Initial Support
Addiction support is a tough task, especially when the person you care about refuses drug rehab. Nonetheless, convincing and getting the person into drug rehab is the best thing you can do as an addiction support person. Here are a few suggestions from our psychology expert on addiction:
Do not preach, criticize, or yell. Try to establish trust. Remember that trust is a two-way street. If you don’t trust your loved one, it is difficult to reach out to him or her. This is a difficult process because an addict will generally lie, especially in order to continue with the addiction. He or she may also feel that you are manipulating or controlling, and this could strain the atmosphere further.
Be kind and calm always, and listen as much as you talk. Remember you are there to support, not to lecture. Gently make the person understand that the substance has taken over his or her life and quitting is the way to take back control and be responsible for one’s life. If rehab seems too daunting to the person, some initial counselling or a visit to a psychologist can make it easier for him or her. Show unconditional support. Try to tell the addict that you are there for him or her, no matter what, and if he or she decides to go into drug rehab, you would always be there as a support. An addict will more likely open up to you if you do not blame or criticize. At the very least, they will agree to meet with a counsellor and this can be a step in their rehabilitation.
Treatment for Substance Abuse
Addiction affects the mental health of the abuser. Substance abuse can alter the functioning of the brain and its structure, which is why even people who have already undergone drug rehab before are still at a risk for relapse.
Every addict is different and the treatment setting will vary depending on his or her particular history. A time of about three months is what is suggested by our psychology expert on addiction. The longer the duration of the treatment, the better will be the efficacy.
The following are the general treatment guidelines laid down by our psychology expert on addiction:
- It is essential that the moment a person agrees for drug rehab, that he or she be immediately admitted for treatment before the individual changes his or her mind. The earlier a person agrees to undergo drug rehab or agrees for some support, the greater the chance of a positive response.
- Treatment should be continuous and should be for a proper amount of time. It is not uncommon for a patient to abandon treatment prematurely. So, addiction support from a caregiver is most essential to keep the addict motivated and interested in rehab. In simple terms, it is like becoming fit at a gym or losing weight; you need to do it consistently to get the results.
- Individual counselling as well as group counselling are the most commonly used form of treatment for substance abuse. Counselling by a psychology expert on addiction is given so that the addict develops the motivation to resist drug use and gets an interest in constructive activities. Group therapy and peer support programs during and after treatment can help the person in abstaining from substance abuse. Continuing to regularly attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings, for instance, is a part of this ongoing process.
- In some cases, the patient may be working with his GP and medications could be given along with the counselling and this forms an important part of the de-addiction process. Detoxification via medication is the first step in treatment but by no means the last. Continuous monitoring of medication compliance, constant motivation for continuing the rehab by the support person or caregiver, and counselling with a psychology expert on addiction will ensure that the de-addiction process turns a full circle.
- The treatment plan should be continually reviewed and changed as per the progress of the patient.
- An addiction typically co-exists with other psychological as well as physiological problems. The psychological problems could include anxiety, stress, grief, depression, etc. The psychology expert on addiction will review the substance abuser’s case and chart out treatment options, bringing in other specialised doctors if required. Counselling will also be given to the patient to help deal with these underlying problems so that the recovery process can start. The patient will also be checked for other medical illnesses such as HIV, STDs, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases, and will be treated accordingly.
Support for the Addiction Support Person
However tough the situation may be, it is essential for the caregiver to be motivated always and not lose hope. As previously mentioned, dealing with a substance abuser can prove to be frustrating and can be an emotional ordeal. It is very likely that you will harbour feelings of anger towards the addict. It is indeed a trying time, particularly since you have to be kind and supportive to the person. You may also feel alone, since you are unable to discuss your situation with other people close to you. It is best then that you also take some time out and discuss your stressors with a therapist. Here, at the Centre for Emotion Focused Practice, South Yarra Psychology, in addition to providing psychological services for de-addiction, we also conduct counselling sessions for the family members or addiction support persons as a part of our rehab program. Our psychologists follow a non-judgemental approach which will help you to discuss your problems and experiences freely.
Psychologists at the Centre with expertise in addiction
If you are looking for help, whether for yourself or for a loved one, our psychologists can assist in exploring underlying issues through therapy. Please visit our practitioners’ page to find out more, or call (03) 9820-5577 for an appointment or to make enquiries.