When Do I Intervene in a Loved One’s Drug Use?

When it comes to intervening in a loved one’s drug use, sooner is better. The longer the use continues, the more likely it will become a serious addiction. As long as the addiction continues, the addict’s work and family life will suffer, her health will deteriorate, and when she finally does get treatment, detox will be more difficult. It’s better to say something while you think there might be a problem rather than wait until there is obviously a serious problem. The worst that can happen is she’ll deny having a problem but there is a chance she’ll listen and get help.

Obviously, visible drug use is cause for concern, especially if you see her using addictive drugs like heroin or meth. More often, addicts try to hide their use and you may have to look for subtler signs. Sudden behavioral changes are a big warning sign, especially if she has suddenly become aggressive, defensive, or secretive. Borrowing money or stealing are warning signs too. Her appearance my change and she may be sick more often. She may have problems at work or school. Each of these alone may have some other explanation, but taken together they suggest addiction.

For some addictions, it may be hard to know when legitimate drug use has become a problem. Alcohol, for example, is common in our culture and most people drink without becoming alcoholics. Similarly, many people are prescribed prescription painkillers for a specific purpose and stop when they no longer need them. On the other hand, some people gradually drink more, or take more painkillers until they become dependent and can’t quit. There isn’t so much a hard line–as you might see in heroin, for example–as a gradual slide. If you could compare her behavior now to her behavior before the drinking or pills, a problem may be obvious, but sometimes the change is gradual and we forget.

Most of us are uncomfortable being the person who decides whether our loved one’s drug use in an addiction. Unfortunately, we may have to make that decision because the addict is incapable of seeing it. There are some signs, in addition to those above, that she has become addicted. If she suddenly gets angry or defensive, especially when you confront her about her drinking or drug use, there is a problem. Maybe she has neglected responsibilities in order to use. Then, when that negligence catches up with her, she blames you. She may get angry when she is forced to deviate from her normal routine, as her normal routine is built around drug use and drinking.

If you think there is a problem, start keeping a record of ways drug use interferes with her life or yours. Be specific. When you start keeping track instead of overlooking offences, you may realize the problem is worse than you thought. Don’t feel like you’re being peevish or vindictive in recording these incidents, because you are doing it to help her. These items can help convince her that she has a problem and needs treatment.

When you do decide to intervene, enlist the help of an experienced intervention counsellor as well as several other people close to your loved one. Have them create similar lists, and discuss your intervention strategy with the counsellor. Always remember you’re doing this out of love and your goal is to get her into treatment.

Finding a good treatment center that offers expertise and support is crucial to recovery. At Gardens Wellness Center, we offer a variety of therapeutic approaches in a supportive, comfortable environment. To learn more about our individualized approach to treatment call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.

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