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Xpert Q&A on What Parents Need to Know About Addiction

Is the Addict Responsible?

An addict is in a condition of irresponsibility for themselves, their life and others around them. A common saying in the AA community is, “An addict is not responsible for their addiction, but they are responsible for their recovery”.

If an Addict Is Not Responsible for Their Addiction, Does That Mean They Are Not Accountable for Their Conduct or the Consequences of Their Behavior?

Every person is accountable for their own behavior and the consequences of their actions or inactions. Our society is based on duties and responsibilities. Those people who use special status as a justification for damaging themselves or others know they are harming themselves. While they may not be in good control over their conduct, they are accountable. Therefore, insisting the person remains accountable for the actions and inactions keeps family and friends of alcoholics or addicts on solid grounding.

Who Do We Go to for Help?

I found that ‘help’ means different things to different people. Clarifying exactly the help you want accelerates finding one or more solutions.

Do I Need a Professional Interventionist?

Usually the answer is ‘yes’. Many wrong turns do not make a right turn to recovery. The more family intervention failures and rehab failures which mount up due to poor or inexpert intervention decisions, the greater number of problems gets piled onto the case load to be dealt with in rehab. Perhaps the best investment a family could make is by retaining a skilled and professional interventionist. We can recommend actions, books or ideas. However, when the situation gets challenging or emotional, one right or one wrong word can push the person toward recovery or away from help. A professional interventionist gives families the surest chances for good outcomes.

What’s Wrong with My Addicted Loved One? Do They Have a Mental Illness, Disorder or Are They Simply Being Willfully Bad?

Addiction starts with an effort of the person to reduce or lessen a real emotional, physical or mental difficulty or problem. The problem may not be great but the repeated use of drugs like marijuana, alcohol or mind-altering street drugs or pharmaceuticals reduce the person’s ability to deal directly with that difficulty or problem. Therefore, it’s always best to first help the person completely eliminate drug and alcohol use to determine what is the REAL problem. A 3 to 6-month period of complete sobriety (including no pharmaceutical use) is the industry standard before determining a behavioral problem.

But My Loved One Needs Drugs or Pharmaceuticals to Function, They Go Crazy Without Them. What Should I Do?

Most if not all drug withdrawal or drug use has one or more side effects or consequences which can resemble mental health breakdowns. Factually, all drugs, alcohol and mind-altering medications are essentially potentially dangerous to the average person; that’s why we have the prescription systems and warnings to ensure minimal damage to those people using drugs, per Health Canada. To be totally safe, we could consider all drugs poisons to anyone taking them. Minimally drugs are not food or nourishment. Therefore, before playing doctor with your loved one, we suggest the person goes through a time in detox and rehab in a rehab facility to establish a starting point.

Most drug problems came about because someone tried to use more drugs to counter-act the previous problem created by drugs. By the way, marijuana use is causing lots of behavioral, mental and physical problems.

Where Should You Go to Get Help for a Loved One Abusing Drug Including Alcohol?

No 2 detox or rehab facilities are the same, and although some are similar, the differences between facilities would astound you. Therefore, where you go determines the treatment. So, depending on the situation, the person and the results and level of care you expect from the centre, the answer is different. Making a personal assessment of expectations often helps determine the right next step to recovery. Next, working out a full description of needs and wants with an addiction specialist can quickly eliminate or include the rehab options best for a loved one.

Tibor Palatinus

Meet an Expert

Sylvain Fournier

Sylvain Fournier | Bio

Across Canada, there are many different treatment options to choose from, private, government-funded, inpatient, and outpatient. See More