Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and drug addiction are prevalent issues in the country. In 2017, 19.7 million Americans aged 12 and older suffered from substance abuse, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In the same survey, it was found out that 74% of those adults also suffered from alcohol use disorder.
Living with a loved one with a drug or alcohol addiction is a harrowing experience. It can reach the point that their loved ones or family members are grieving even if the addicted person is still alive. While enabling them is easier, it’s not sustainable — and it’s harmful in the long run.
Spotting an Alcoholic or Drug Addict
While it differs per person, there are some general signs you can watch out for if you suspect that your loved one suffers from AUD or drug abuse.
- Poor performance at school or work
- Irritable or having extreme mood swings
- Increased spending
- Finding any reason to have a drink, even the smallest ones
- Isolation from close friends and family
- Defensiveness when asked about suspected alcoholism or addiction
How Living With an Alcoholic or Drug Addict Affects a Household
Living with an alcoholic or drug addict can affect your mental health and physical well-being. Because of their changed behavior, an alcoholic or addict can subject their loved ones to verbal, psychological, and physical abuse.
The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 55% of domestic abuse perpetrators are drinking before they assault their loved ones. Aside from that, in the same report, it also found out that abused women are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol. Alcoholism and drug addiction creates a vicious and violent cycle that is hard to get out of — especially without interventions or coping strategies.
How To Cope
Do Not Enable Them
Enabling an addict by giving them substances or protecting them from the consequences of their actions will only be harmful to them and to you in the long run. This will prevent them from seeing that they need to change something in their life.
Do Not Forget About Your Own Wellbeing
It’s so easy to forget that you are a person who needs support, too. Luckily, there are ways to find support for yourself. You could join a support group or consult with a therapist. Surround yourself with family and friends that want your loved one to beat addiction as well.
Stage an Intervention
- Get professional help: Whether from a social worker, a doctor, or an interventionist, professional help can increase the chances of a successful intervention. You can also include family and friends.
- Make a clear plan: Set a time, place, and a guest list. The guests should prepare and practice what they want to say beforehand, so they’re calm and coming from a place of love. There should absolutely be no personal attacks.
- Educate yourself: Get information about rehabilitation programs, and make sure that these programs suit your loved one’s needs.
- Offer help and support: Everyone involved in the intervention should be involved in the recovery process. Going to support groups and family therapy, as well as offering rides to treatment are some of the ways you can help.
- Manage your expectations: Not everyone accepts help in the first try. Your loved one may not, so be prepared for that.
- Follow-up: Make sure to uphold your words during the intervention, whether your loved one accepts help or not.
It can be difficult living with someone who has an addiction. Remember to be patient, and seek help in order to properly provide support for yourself and your loved one.