How to Help: Identifying and Understanding Addiction

Early detection of a drug addiction can save a loved one’s life. Learn the warning signs, as explained by Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and Addiction Expert George Joseph.

Posted on | By George Joseph

When someone you know has a possible addiction problem, here are some things you can do to help.

  • Learn about addiction. The more you know the better. Attend family support groups such as Al-Anon; research the Internet for sites such as SAMHSA, NIDA.
  • Initiate conversation. Ask questions in a caring, gentle manner. Tell the person your concerns and how much you care for them. Be prepared to give them specific examples of their behavior or events that concern you. When addressed early, the stages of recovery are much easier to obtain. It’s never too late, but when a person hits their “bottom,” the process is much more difficult.
  • You are #1. Neglecting your own needs may put you at risk of enabling your loved one’s addiction, being put in a risky situation, or becoming ill due to stress and neglect. Seek out people that are good listeners and that you can have as a support system.
  • Enabling is a lose-lose situation. When you begin to make excuses or minimize the person’s use, it prolongs the problem. This is a way for the addicted person to continue using – getting what they want. In order for the person to realize the hazards of drug and alcohol abuse, negative consequences may have to be a part of that equation. You feel you’re protecting them, but actually, you are endangering them.
  • It is not your fault. Addiction is seldom the fault of another person. It is a disease that has many facets and causes. Your job is to support the addicted person and encourage alternatives to the destructive behaviors, but you are not responsible for the person to change. You are not responsible to control the person and his decisions. Your loved one must realize the need for help and accept responsibility for their actions.

Article written by George Joseph
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and Addiction Expert