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How Do I Help a Family Member Who Has a Drug Problem?

Having a friend on drugs, whether in high school, a co-worker or a close friend is hard. Some friends are practically family. Even if you have friends who are like family, having an actual family member with a drug problem can affect you financially as well as emotionally. If it is your child, you have the mixed emotions of having a choice of his or hers lead to the problem that is now out of control and therefore, something they cannot help. You will do anything to help your child get well. A spouse? Same thing, although sometimes a marriage may not survive such an event. Siblings can end contact for periods of time with each other over a drug problem.

It does not matter what the familial connection is, when your loved one has a drug problem, you want to help, but how? This is a battle for you as well as for the one under the control of the addiction. It can be frustrating; it can be heartbreaking; it can lead to some horrific arguments and has led to many instances of domestic violence situations. Still, you love this person, and you want to help.

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First, you have to make sure you are not enabling the person with the drug problem. This makes you become co-dependent. How? You are not the one on drugs, but your life is being controlled by it just as much when you allow the drug problem to become the center of everything. Whether it becomes a family secret, hurts you financially, puts a stop to a social life for you and your spouse, you are just as much affected by the drug problem as your family member.

Call a drug rehab helpline. Get some professional advice. You are dealing with an enemy you need help with. This is your family, but this is the business of the counselor you will talk to on the other end. Do not try to deal with it alone. The counselor will probably discuss what is called an intervention with you and advise you to have a professional counselor on hand for it. Take the advice of the counselor as he or she can help you to confront your family member with the right tools so that there is not a domestic situation or things get out of control.

Once you get your family member to the point of getting help, stay involved. There will be family counseling sessions. Go to them. Just as importantly, go to a support group that is made up of family members of people who have drug problems. You are going to need just as much help as your loved one. Never forget that in order to help your family member, you also have to help yourself. Many families come away from this type of situation where counseling and support are available often stronger as a family unit than they were before. All of you owe it to yourselves as a family to take this route. You will be grateful that you did.

Should I hire a professional interventionist?

If you have a loved one that is unwilling to go to treatment than you only have two choices, one is to get advice from a professional on how to do a family intervention, or hire a professional to do the intervention. The only reason that someone would not hire a quality professional interventionist is because of the expense. Professional Interventionists are usually highly successful, whereas interventions done by family have a high degree of failure. When you know that the life of your loved one depends on getting them into treatment, and they are not willing to admit they have a problem and to go freely to treatment, you must take this opportunity to do all that you can to get the person into a program, and you should hire a professional interventionist, if at all possible.

It should be noted that there are some interventionists that call themselves “professional” but they do not have the skills to change minds and build excitement for treatment, but sometimes only get in the way of your objective. Always demand to have numerous references before you hire and interventionist or get referrals from the treatment center that you have decided to use.

What if I do an intervention, and he still does not want to go?

This does happen in some cases, and any time families will resort to the idea that the addict hasn’t hit their bottom as yet and will back off of trying to get them into treatment until the addicts get to a point that they ask for help. This is a very dangerous attitude, even though it may be presented to you by addiction professionals. Every addict wants to be free of the imprisonment of addiction, and you have to continue to use your resources to get the addict believing that they can get well, and they can be free of alcohol and other drugs. Most of the professionals who subscribe to the “tough love” idea of letting them “hit bottom” believe in the disease model of addiction and do not believe that everyone can recover from addiction.


marcel gemme author

Marcel Gemme

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people.

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