If you’re like me, someone in your family suffers from substance abuse. It’s sad that about 10% of families across America is dealing with or has a loved one that has a substance abuse problem. So, what is the answer? How do we fix this? I certainly don’t have the answers, but in an effort to help my family member, I have done some research on this topic. I have done each of the following and have even done an intervention, and these suggestions really helped. If your family member checked into rehab for a little while but sadly didn’t stay, and is still fighting this awful addiction, there’s hope around the corner. Never give hope and continue to support from afar if needed.
Some actions you can take:
- Read about the signs and symptoms of substance use.
- Observe the person’s behavior closely over a period of days or weeks to understand what leads you to think there is a problem. This information will be good to have if you decide to talk with other family members about the situation, seek advice from a professional, or speak directly with the person. However, don’t feel you need an exhaustive picture of the problem before.
- Share your observations with other family members and friends to determine how they see the situation. If they agree there is a problem, figure out who will talk to the person about getting help.
- Contact a substance use professional, mental health professional, physician, employee assistance professional, guidance counselor, clergy or other helping professional to help you. Describe your family member’s substance use pattern to see whether the professional would deem it a problem. Provide details such as: type of alcohol or other drugs, how much the person is using, how often they are using, how long the pattern has continued, negative consequences, and the person’s response to discussions or confrontations about substance use.
- Ensure that you and other family members are safe from potential physical or emotional harm. If there is a threat or possibility of physical violence, you should develop a safety plan.