Oftentimes addiction is most painful for friends and family of the addict. They are forced to witness the downward spiral of their loved one, while the addict is avoiding reality with drugs and/or alcohol. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can be overwhelming and many people struggle with the making the right decisions on how to best handle the addict. This question is not unique to families struggling with addiction, in fact, researchers are asking the same thing. What is the best way to intercept an addict before the addiction gets out of control?
According to recent studies, the best thing for family members to do when their loved one is struggling with addiction is to intervene. The pressures that a family member or close friend can place on the addict are oftentimes much more powerful than the law, or threat of danger that drugs or alcohol pose. This is because the addict often relies on loved ones for monetary or emotional support. The report also suggests that medical professionals can step into this role as well.
Many emergency rooms and doctor’s offices have begun implanting drug screening questions to determine if a patient is struggling with addiction. These questions can be as simple as asking if they have abused drugs recently, or if they feel they have a problem with a certain substance. If the patient answers “yes” to any of these questions, the medical professional is trained to educate them on their options and provide resources for different treatment alternatives.
“Brief intervention refers to any time-limited effort, maybe one or two conversations or meetings, to provide information or advice, increase motivation to avoid substance abuse, or to teach behavior change skills that will reduce substance abuse as well as the chances of negative consequences,” explained Thomas Babor, researchers in UConn Health’s Department of Community Medicine and Health Care.
Originally, these medical interventions were restricted to just alcohol abusers, but they have expanded to include anyone who is abusing a substance that can be dangerous to him or her. This simple step has proven to be effective in helping addicts get help before they succumb even more to drugs or alcohol. Families and loved ones can also gently suggest help or provide resources as well.