Addiction and how it impacts family and friends

Addiction and how it impacts family and friends

If you are someone trying to help someone with addiction my heart goes out to you.

 

The rollercoaster of emotions, thought processes, planning, attempts and defeats to help, and you may already have experienced these, are quite unbelievable to get your head around. The questions of “why?” cropping up again and again, the self-blame, doubt, anticipation, anger and fury are very difficult to manage and live with day to day.

 

Life can be a blur as you attempt to keep your life as normal as possible.

 

Addiction can be all-consuming to both the addict and those around them and it’s one of the hardest battles I’ve experienced personally and professionally when trying to help someone you love.

 

To watch someone destroy their life with your own eyes is a difficult experience to put into words. You can talk with them about all the effects you see, plan with them on how to move forward, express your fears, love and hopes for them and, I have no doubt you will lose your cool with them from time to time too. It feels impossible to know what to do for the best outcome.

 

I’ve heard experiences of people losing their jobs, family walking away from the addict, wives, girlfriends, husbands and close friends ending relationships with addicts because they couldn’t take any more of the lies, deceit and manipulation they experienced, and believe me it wasn’t an easy decision for them to make. It’s a haunting feeling when you walk away.

 

So what is the best thing to do? How do you help an addict?

 

Firstly, you have to be very realistic. If you are dealing with a substance based addiction you are battling against a chemical which either has a physical or psychological effect on the addict and these addictions create a false illusion and alter the addict’s brain functioning. Gambling, shopping and sex addiction create natural physical highs which require great efforts from the addict to regulate internally themselves.

 

No addiction can be controlled or stopped by an outside party and the sooner you can get your head around this fact,the easier you are able to manage the effects of your emotions and feelings.

 

We are all responsible for ourselves and one of the greatest things you can do is look after yourself in difficult times more than ever. This isn’t meant in a selfish way, it simply means looking at your life and deciding what is good and what isn’t good for you.

 

Self-care is vitally important for your own well being. If you are stressed because you are trying to help an addict into recovery it will filter into all other areas of your life. Perhaps your children, grandchildren, work, friendships, finances etc, etc could all suffer. And once your life becomes difficult because you’re helping someone else, your emotions will change, becoming more desperate and negative, and so the roundabout of addiction and destruction creeps into your own life.

 

Looking after yourself demonstrates to addicts that you are not accepting their addiction and you won’t enable their addiction. Often people who help become enablers to the addiction and a way of working out if you’re an enabler is to see if the addict continues with their addiction quite blatantly whilst asking for your help (usually for 1-2 months following), or talking in a relaxed way about their addiction, making it part of everyday conversation. Your help is of no help to the addict in these circumstances.

 

It’s widely known that an addiction needs to hit rock bottom before recovery is possible, so having strong personal boundaries for yourself and life is the best way to help. It also helps for all those involved in recovery have the same boundaries so the message is clear to the addict.

 

It is important to note that you are not abandoning the addict in looking after yourself, you are demonstrating self-care and respect towards yourself, family and life. Addictions alter personalities with distorted agendas, and these can be very hurtful, even devastating to loving relationships. Addiction alters characters and the addict will be filled with shame, embarrassment and regret, even whilst addicted.

 

By having strong boundaries and self-care and respect you are actually limiting the destruction to any future relationship with the addict, which can be dealt with once they are well into recovery.

 

Some people have been locked in a battle of trying to help addicts for years, with the roundabout restarting over and over again, causing drama, destruction and hurt.

 

This could be because the real root of the addictive behaviour has never been uncovered or dealt with in an effective way. Seeking help from a professional to find the root causes of addiction is a good way forward, but only if the addict is prepared to do this for themselves. Forcing professional help for addiction often doesn’t work, and can be used as a new reason to continue with an addiction in the future.

 

I urge you try and show tough love towards an addict, it is in their best interests, try your hardest not to enable their addiction and have faith that the human spirit does want to be free of addiction in the long run.

 

If you are an addict reading this I urge you to seek professional help in those momentary moments of your gut telling you to.

 

The longer you avoid or deny what you’re spirit is telling you the more difficult it becomes to get off the roundabout. I wish you wellness.

 

Rebecca Jarvis – Hilton

Nicholas Conn / 16th April 2018/ Posted in: Latest News

3 thoughts on “Addiction and how it impacts family and friends

  1. my two sons are both smoking and addicted to herion they are 36 and 38 my husband health is guite bad and he is disabled I also have one son who is living with is girl friend the two with problems still live at home Iwe are struggling to pay our bill as my sons seem to have taken ever thing we have and I am continualy pay in off people they owe money too . I am at the end and feel like I have let them down but I also have to think off my husband .I just don’t know what to do anymore cant afford private help but feel need to help them now for all our sakes as it is dragging us all down phone constanly ringing or door going we are always on edge as they have also been threaten because of money owing . could you please offer help or advice . none of our familys are aware of our situation.thank you

    1. Hi Chris, thank you for your comments. We are sorry to hear what you are going through. Please do not allow finances restrict you from getting in touch. We would be delighted to assist you in anyway we can to ensure that your boys get the help they need. Warm regards Help 4 Addiction Team

  2. I am very nervous about phoning you as not good with phone my son as just phoned my other son asking for more money do we continue giving them money or refuse we are so worried about what will happen to them if they owe money but are not always able to give money what if they get beat up or do somethink desperate could you please advise have tried talking to them carmly but always seem to end up thinking its all my fault .I just want them to be happy but I also want to have a bit of life for me and my husband before its two late

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)


Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0330 088 9518.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.