What Can I Do To Help?

Attempting to help an addicted individual to get sober can be an overwhelming and exhausting use of emotional and physical energy.  When the addicted person feels sad or angry or frustrated, he or she typically turns to substances to escape. When the family or loved ones feel the same way, they don’t have a means of escape and often suffer alone. Many times families feel shame and guilt associated with a loved one’s addiction which prevents them from reaching out for help or support.   Because of this, the most important step for the family members and loved ones is to reach out for support and guidance for themselves.

Steps to consider in helping a loved one with an addiction:

  1. Seeking support, whether it is from a support group like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon or counseling, can help you determine how to maintain your health and wellness while deciding on steps to impact the loved one’s addiction. It will also play an important role in educating the family about the disease of addiction which is necessary as you determine your next steps and a plan of action.
  2. Be aware of boundaries. Often an addicted person will lean on the family more and more as the addiction progresses. This can be in terms of a place to live, money, a vehicle. Preventing your loved one from the consequences of addiction only helps in maintaining the addiction. Having loose boundaries makes it easier for the loved one to continue to use.  Consider stopping or tapering off financial assistance. Consider an “eviction date” if your loved one is living in your home and continues to use. These are difficult decisions for families but providing support for your loved one prevents them from experiencing the negative consequences of addiction which may bring about a decision to get sober.
  3. Learn about treatment options. Not every substance requires facility-based detox. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), a combination of medication and counseling, is the best option for recovery from some drugs, including alcohol. MAT is the use of medication under a physician’s guidance to allows the individual to regain a normal state of mind, away from the highs and lows associated with addiction. It can reduce withdrawal and cravings and give the person a chance to focus on recovery and sobriety. In addition to MAT, local recovery options include:

a. Halfway House Residential Drug and Alcohol treatment for women – a four month residential treatment program for Tuscarawas and Carroll County women

b. Intensive Outpatient Program – a minimum of eight hours a week of treatment including a combination of group counseling, individual counseling, and case management. The intensity of the program decreases over time as the individual moves further into recovery. There are mixed gender and female only programs in the two counties.

c.  Outpatient Counseling – one-on-one counseling with a counselor trained in substance abuse treatment

d.  Recovery Residences – Sober living environments for males in recovery from substance abuse. The concept behind a recovery residence is allowing individuals the opportunity to live in an environment where sobriety and recovery is promoted and away from the triggers that increase the risk of relapse.

To determine the best treatment option for your loved one, a first step is scheduling a drug and alcohol assessment at a counseling agency (see local treatment resources tab). This confidential assessment will consider the individual’s addiction and make recommendations regarding which treatment option meet his or her level of need.

  1. Ensure the family and support system are on the same page and approaching the addiction as a team. This will require you to work together to create a plan. For example, if the addicted person’s mother or father decide they will no longer allow him to live in their home, but a sibling or grandparent allows the individual to move in, little progress has been made in impacting the decision to change.
  2. Ultimately, it is extremely difficult to help someone that doesn’t want help. This is a tough thought for families and loved ones to accept.  You can make sure that his or her addiction isn’t supported in any way by your behaviors (e.g. giving money) and that you’re protecting not them from the consequences of addiction (e.g. calling them off sick from work/lying for them) but you can’t make the addicted person well.  While you can support, love, and make personal changes in the hope of impacting their addiction, the journey to recovery is theirs.