A core concept evolving over the past decade is that drug addiction is a brain disease that develops over time as a result of the initially voluntary behavior of using drugs. (Drugs include alcohol)
The consequence is virtually uncontrollable compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use that interferes with, if not destroys, an individual's functioning in the family and in society. This medical condition demands formal treatment.
Using drugs repeatedly over time changes brain structure and function in fundamental and long-lasting ways that can persist long after the individual stops using them. Addiction comes about through an array of neuro-adaptive changes and the lying down and strengthening of new memory connections in various circuits in the brain. No matter what happens, do not become an enabler. The addict might beg for money or drugs, but as a family member, you must be strong and learn how to say no. If the person reacts angrily, remove yourself from the situation immediately.
ADDICTION COPING SKILLS FOR ADDICTS AND THEIR FAMILY
Drug and alcohol addiction affects millions of people across the globe. Whether you are an addict yourself or someone you love is dealing with a substance abuse problem, coping with this disease can be taxing.
Fortunately, with enough support and help, you and your family can deal with the issues surrounding addiction and hope for a better future. There are many different ways in which people cope with addiction. Some forms of coping are helpful, and some can actually cause more problems than they solve. It is important to learn healthy addiction coping skills.
COPING FOR ADDICTS
As a drug or alcohol addict, coping with the problem can be exhausting. There are different techniques you can try that will help you better handle the problem while working towards recovery. By following a few simple tactics, you can deal with the problem much more effectively. Try to implement these coping skills into your daily life. By doing so, you will be able to visualize the reality of the problem much clearer.
- Avoid situations that will encourage you to use drugs or alcohol. For instance, get enough sleep, make sure you eat enough during the day, and try to stay occupied so that your mind is focused on other things.
- If you feel a relapse or desire to use drugs coming on, call someone you trust for support. Sometimes simply reaching out can help thwart the desire to use drugs or drink.
- If you're working toward getting sober and you slip up, do not be too hard on yourself. Understand why you slipped, then promise yourself that tomorrow is another day to try and stay sober.
- Stay out of environments in which temptation is great, like parties where others will be doing drugs. By avoiding the people, places, and things that tempt you, you'll be better able to maintain control.
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation. Read a book that interests you in a quiet room. Getting emotions under control can do wonders when you're coping with addiction.
COPING FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OF ADDICTS
As a family member or loved one of an addict, coping can also be extremely painful and difficult. You want to show support for the one you love without being an enabler. It is also very hard to watch someone you care for do something that is harmful to themselves and others.
- The first step in coping with the problem is understanding the addiction itself. Education about drug and alcohol addiction can go a long way both with learning about the why as well as learning about how to better handle the situation.
- Realize that addiction can happen to anyone and that even though it hurts, the addict probably has no deep intentions of causing anyone else pain. Often, addiction is a sign that the person is suffering internally and needs help. Even if the person you care for will not seek therapy or rehab, it is important that you get help when needed. There are many organizations that are dedicated to helping family members cope when living with an addict.
- Try to understand what causes addiction and why it happens. Understanding why can help you provide more support for the addict and be more compassionate. Do not expose the addict to situations where they will feel tempted to use drugs or drink, and avoid putting them in uncomfortable situations where they might want to "escape" by doing drugs later. Never blame yourself for a loved one's addiction. While you can and should be concerned, the ultimate decision to become sober falls with the addict.