Are you concerned that you, a family member or friend may have developed a problem with chemical dependency? It’s necessary that you educate yourself about the support that may be available to you or that you may need to provide others in order to achieve a sustained recovery from substance abuse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers the following information if you think you might have a substance abuse problem:
- It’s important to know that addiction can be successfully treated. Contact your PCP who can help coordinate your care and refer you to a specialist, if needed. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.
- It takes a lot of courage to seek help because there is a lot of hard work ahead. However, treatment can work, and people recover every day.
- Your treatment approach must be tailored to address your specific abuse pattern and also your substance-related medical, psychiatric and social needs.
- There are different kinds of addiction specialists who will be involved in your care, including doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and others.
- Behavioral treatment (also known as “talk therapy”) can help you engage in the treatment process, change your attitude and behaviors related to abuse, and increase your healthier life skills.
- Medications are available to treat addictions to alcohol and opioids (heroin and pain relievers). Other medications are available to treat possible mental health conditions.
- Self-help groups can extend the effects of professional treatment. These groups can be particularly helpful during recovery, as they are a source of ongoing communal support.
If you have an adult family member or friend who is struggling with chemical dependency, NIDA offers the following tips:
- Recognize that you can’t fix the problem by yourself. If someone you care about has asked for help, he or she has taken an important first step. If that person is resistant to help, perhaps you can at least convince him or her to get an evaluation from a doctor.
- You can always take steps to locate an appropriate physician or health professional, and leave the information with your friend or family member.
- Emphasize to your friend or loved one that it takes a lot of courage to seek help for a drug problem because there is a lot of hard work ahead. But assure them that you will be supportive in their courageous efforts.
- The pressure of family and friends sometimes compels people to enter treatment. However, it’s better that you focus on creating incentives to at least get the person to a doctor.
- If your friend or loved one was previously treated and then relapsed, they have already learned many of the skills needed to recover from addiction and should try it again.
- People being treated or recovering from chemical dependency relapse about as often as do people with other chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Treatment of any chronic disease involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors, and relapse sometimes goes with the territory.
- Encourage your loved one to participate in a self-help group during and after formal treatment. These groups can be particularly helpful during recovery, as they are a source of ongoing communal support.
For more information and resources, please visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.