Dealing with a family member with drug addiction can be difficult. It is even more difficult when other family members are enabling the drug use and habits. The use of drugs in pop culture can be a part of the reason why we see so many people, especially young people, fall in to the trap of drug addiction. Realizing the signs of drug addiction (legal or illegal drugs) is not too difficult. Most drug addicts will have several signs, such as:
- Severe change in mood or personality
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Avoidance of eye contact or even sociable settings altogether
- Red eyes or dilated pupils (be cautious with this one – some individuals have naturally dilated pupils without drug use)
- Sometimes family members will even find the paraphernalia they use to do the drugs (i.e. pipes, needles, bongs, spoon, etc.)
- Even committing crimes, such as burglary, can be a sign of drug use
Dealing with the drug addicted individual is more challenging than some may thing. Having dealt with this for several years, here are a few things I have learned:
1) The drug user has to want to change. No one can force them to stop using drugs. Even if they do stop using ‘for someone else’ there is a high likelihood that they will begin using again.
2) I recommend at least attempting to have a heart-to-heart talk with them to see if you can reason with them. Do not put them down, do not attack them, and do not yell at them. These attempts are futile and ultimately will lead to a fight. However, don’t be hard on yourself if this does not work because of reason number one.
3) Offer them the opportunity to get into a good rehabilitation facility. They may or may not choose to do this depending on who is supporting their habit and their willingness to get clean. If they choose to accept the offer, then definitely support them through the recovery process and do not put them down.
4) Do not enable them by giving them money, driving them to get the drugs, by ‘looking the other way’ as they do the drugs.
5) Work with other family members to help them understand each of these items. I, unfortunately, have had the experience of having family members continue to enable the drug addicted individuals. It is frustrating and discouraging, but I have learned to stand my ground and no be pulled into enabling them.
Finally, family members of individuals who are addicted to drugs will experience their own emotions from dealing with drug addicted individuals. Some of these may include:
Please be on the lookout for these symptoms in yourself and seek counseling if you or someone close to you notices changes in your mood.
Have you had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a family member who is addicted to drugs? What is your advice?