Helping an Addicted Loved One
If you suspect that someone you know and love has been suffering at the hands of a substance abuse disorder, you are likely wondering what you can do to help. This is especially true if you are living under the same roof as your loved one – say it is your spouse, more specifically your husband. Watching your husband struggle with addiction is one of the most painful and frustrating experiences you will ever experience. You might have had conversation after conversation, bargained with him, bribed him – all with little luck.
Addiction is a tricky disease – helping someone you love overcome addiction is not as simple as driving them to weekly doctor’s appointments, holding their hand as they undergo treatment or reminding them to take their medication twice a day. Addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease, one that has the power to rip families apart and devastate the lives of everyone it touches.
The first step to helping someone you love overcome addiction is truly understanding what addiction is. The disease is cunning, baffling and powerful – no question about that. But there is also ample scientific evidence and extensive research that explains what substance abuse truly is, why it develops and what the best course of action is if you have been watching someone you love struggle with alcoholism or drug addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) suggests that addiction is the uncontrollable and repetitive use of a chemical substance despite negative personal consequences.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as, “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.” Substance abuse is considered a mental illness and a brain disease, and while the root causes and symptoms vary significantly on a person-to-person basis, there are a medically accepted set of defining characteristics.
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Characteristics of Substance Abuse and Dependence
Once you have educated yourself on the ins and outs of addiction (we recommend that you speak with a licensed addiction counselor in addition to doing your own research), the next step is determining whether or not your husband is in need of professional addiction treatment. The DSM-V includes the following diagnostic criteria for substance abuse and dependence – if your husband is exhibiting some (or all) of the following, there is a good chance that professional intervention has become necessary.
- Your husband consumes the chemical substance for longer than he intended in a greater amount than he intended.
- Your husband has attempted to cut back on the amount he takes – or he has attempted to quit altogether – with little or extremely short-lived success.
- He spends a great deal of time obtaining the chemical substance, using the chemical substance and recovering from its effects.
- He experienced intense psychological drug cravings throughout the day.
- Because of ongoing substance use he regularly fails to fulfill personal obligations or take care of personal responsibilities at work or at home.
- Social and interpersonal problems persist as a direct result of substance use.
- He gives up social or recreational activities that were previously held in high esteem.
- There is an overall increase in risk-taking behavior, such as getting behind the wheel while under the influence or showing up to work while intoxicated.
- Despite medical advice, your husband continues to use chemical substances, knowing that it might negatively impact his physical and/or mental health.
- He has developed a physical tolerance over time, meaning he has been ingesting more of the substance in order to feel the desired effects.
- He experiences symptoms associated with drug withdrawal when he attempts to quit or when the substance is unavailable.
These are several indications that your husband has been struggling with a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, as outlined by the DSM-V. However, there are several other behavioral symptoms to keep an eye out for.
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Signs That Your Husband is an Addict
Below are several additional indications that your husband has been struggling with drug addiction. If you feel that your husband is an addict and you are not sure where to turn for help, call Immersion Recovery Center today. We have extensive experience helping the loved ones of addicts walk through the early recovery process, and we are happy to offer extensive professional insight and advice.
Your husband might be an addict if he:
- Has been needing more “alone time” and seems to be dishonest about how he is spending his time – For example, he might come home at 2am and tell you he was working late. Keep an eye out for dramatic behavioral changes and inconsistencies.
- Sleeps at strange hours – Maybe he goes to bed later or earlier than normal, and sleeps in excessively – or appears to be drowsy and fatigued throughout the day.
- Has not been keeping up with personal hygiene – Maybe he showers less than he used to, wears the same clothes for days in a row or neglects teeth brushing.
- Hides paraphernalia throughout the house – Maybe you find empty pill bottles in the kitchen trash can, or used syringes stashed somewhere in the closet. If you find paraphernalia throughout the house this is a very good indication that your husband is abusing chemical substances.
- Experiences noticeable shifts in mood – One minute he is happy and relaxed, the next he is angry and agitated.
If your husband has been acting differently and you suspect that he has been actively abusing drugs, there are several steps you can take. At Immersion Recovery Center we understand how devastating it can be to watch a loved one struggle with such an overpowering and destructive disease. Many of our staff members have helped family members through the recovery process, allowing them unique firsthand insight. To learn more about how you can help, call us today.
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How to Help an Addicted Loved One
Before you reach out for professional assistance, you might want to try sitting down and having a calm, compassionate conversation with your husband. Of course, if he is deep in the throes of drug addiction this might not be an option. If the substance abuse disorder is mild or moderate – and if you know you can catch him during a window of sobriety – attempting to express your concerns might not hurt. Be honest, avoid placing blame and focus the conversation on how his actions make you feel. Remember that addiction is a disease of denial and defensiveness, and the conversation might not go the way you expect it to. Your husband might refuse treatment, claiming that he has everything under control and that you are “just being dramatic.” Rather than fight back or defend yourself against these claims, call a professional. At Immersion Recovery Center we work very closely with a number of licensed interventionists, who can immediately begin helping you stage a professional intervention. To learn more or to be put into contact with a licensed interventionist contact us today.
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At Immersion Recovery Center we believe that addiction is a family issue and that in order for your loved one to thoroughly recover, every immediate family member must heal simultaneously. We offer a wide range of family-oriented services and resources, including family therapy and several professionally facilitated family workshops. To learn more about the signs and symptoms associated with addiction, or to learn more about how you can help your husband overcome substance dependence contact us today, we are available to help you 24/7.
Reviewed for accuracy by :
Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.