Addiction is an unforgiving and non-discriminatory disease. There’s almost nothing worse than watching a loved one walk this road. Whether it’s alcohol, prescription painkillers or something else, the end result is the same: your loved one loses control.
Addiction works by changing people’s brain chemistry. Various drugs and alcohol work in different ways, but they all provide a dopamine surge. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical in your brain that is elevated whenever you do pleasurable things. Drugs can surge dopamine levels artificially high, which provides a euphoric effect. Your loved one probably didn’t get hooked on their first use, but it probably didn’t take long.
The brain quickly adapts to the increased dopamine levels, and then the user needs more and more to get the same effect. Over time, the brain becomes hard-wired to seek that dopamine surge.
From the moment your good friend took drugs, his or her brain changed. Before you can help your loved one get sober, it’s important that you understand how they got here. And that they never chose to be an addict.
Here are a few more tips to help your loved one get sober:
Addiction can happen to anyone. It’s a threat for any age group, income status and family history. Avoid judging your loved one. You’re likely to get a better response when you come from a place of true love and concern.
When you love an addict, you will most certainly find yourself making some tough decisions. It can even be difficult to discern which decisions are enabling and which are okay. But before you do anything, ask yourself if your action may assist your loved one in using drugs or alcohol. Such actions could include giving someone money or a private rent-free space to come and go as they please.
Your loved one won’t be happy when you stop enabling behavior, but be clear that it’s for her own good. Let her know that you are there for her now and you’ll be there to help her get sober.
Research rehab programs
If your loved one is truly addicted, her or she will experience physical withdrawal symptoms that can be intense. This is one big reason why the decision to get sober is so difficult. Do what you can to make the logistics as easy as possible for your loved one. This may include researching insurance and payment options, detoxification programs and rehabs.
Understand that you’re not in control
The sad reality of loving someone who is addicted is that you have very little control over anyone else’s sobriety. Your role is purely a supportive one. Getting sober must be his or her decision.
If you do everything in your power to help and your loved one still isn’t ready, don’t give up. Hold on to everything you’ve learned about addiction and recovery. Keep a directory of potential rehabs, and let your loved one know that you’re there to help when he’s ready.