What Is Drug Addiction?
Many people don’t understand how or why other people become addicted to alcohol or drugs. They may wrongly think that those who use alcohol or drugs lack moral principles or willpower and could quit their alcohol or drug use simply by choosing to. In truth, alcohol and drug addiction is a complicated disease, and quitting takes more than a strong will or good intentions. Drugs and alcohol change the brain in manners that make stopping difficult, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how substances affect the brain and have found substance abuse treatments to help individuals recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.
Drug addiction and alcoholism is a chronic mental disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive or hard to control, despite destructive consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is unforced for most individuals. However, repeated alcohol or drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge addicted people’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense desires to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why alcohol and drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease—individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to alcohol or drug use even after years of not using the substance.
It’s typical for someone to relapse, but relapse doesn’t suggest that treatment doesn’t work. As with other chronic mental health disorders, addiction treatment should be constant and should be modified based on how the individuals respond. Therefore, addiction treatment plans need to be studied often and adjusted to fit the person’s changing needs.
Do you have an adult alcoholic son living at home and don’t know what to do? Are you concerned about your adult son or daughter’s drug addiction? Do you believe that your adult son might have a substance use disorder? Knowing how to deal with your adult son’s drug addiction problem in healthy ways can be especially challenging for parents. This is because parents want to help rather than hinder their recovery process. However, the addiction problem is not an uncommon one, as drug addiction affects a significant number of Americans.
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Understanding Drug Addiction
Drug addiction is a disease caused by a complex mix of biological and experiential factors that connect to form a compulsive drive for substance abuse. Etiologically speaking, “bad parents” has yet to be recognized as the point of origin. For some parents, understanding this is liberating and immediately helps them reorganize their approach to both their addicted adult son and themselves. But for others, blamelessness equates to powerlessness and brings no comfort.
No one ever said that parenting was easy. However, no one ever said it would be this hard, either. If you believe your adult son is addicted to drugs, you know this feeling firsthand. You may have spent many sleepless nights thinking if your son is safe. You may have spent many days wondering why and how this happened – Why did he turn to drugs? What did I miss? How can find help for family members of drug addicts? How do I help my son with drug addiction?
As a parent, you mustn’t blame yourself or your adult son for this. Drug addiction is a disease, not a choice, and it can happen to anyone of any gender, age, or upbringing. Moreover, it’s important to know that you can make a difference. National research shows that parents have the greatest influence over their children’s propensity to use drugs. Parents also play a pivotal role in recovery and treatment.
Know the Signs of Addiction
As the parent of an adult child, there are a number of physical and behavioral signs your adult son may display if he is dealing with an alcohol or drug addiction, be it full-blown addiction or a lesser form. The following signs or patterns of substance abuse can help you identify whether your adult son may have an alcohol or drug problem.
Substance use disorders can manifest in many ways, including through changes physically and the appearance effects of alcohol or drugs, such as:
- Lack of proper grooming
- Red eyes, pupils appear larger or smaller than usual
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Unusual odors on breath, body, or clothing
Changes in behavior
Is your adult son behaving differently? Have you seen significant changes in his personality? Common drug addict behavior indicators include:
- Mood swings and extreme irritability
- Secretive and suspicious behavior regarding where he or she is going
- Lying about activities and whereabouts
- Barring family or friends from entering his or her room
- Drastic changes in friendships or relationships with family members
- Extreme hyperactivity or lethargy
- Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
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Alcoholism and drug addiction can cause a person’s primary focus to be feeding his or her habit rather than meeting professional and personal responsibilities. Take a closer look at your adult child’s present educational or work situation. Has she displayed any of the following behaviors?:
- Frequently missing school or work
- Inability to maintain jobs
- Drop in grades or work performance
- Lack of interest in school, work, or other activities
Alcohol and drug habits can be very expensive to sustain. The financial cost of regular drug use can be steep. Also, drug addiction can make it challenging to continue to earn money, as one’s focus becomes buying and using rather than meeting work responsibilities. Have you noticed any of the following issues?:
- A sudden lack of money
- Missing money or other valuables
- Sudden or increased requests for money without reasonable explanation
If the patterns and warning signs of addiction ring true for your adult son’s behavior, you are probably wondering, what now? How do I help my son with drug addiction? Know that their addiction is not your fault, and you alone cannot make them be sober. Rather, sobriety can only be accomplished if he is an active and willing participant in the process. However, there are steps you can take to help him and yourself. There is group therapy for family members of addicts that you can join to start the healing process.
Learning about effective boundaries is key if you want to know how to stop enabling your adult son’s addiction problems. Changing the dynamic of your relationship between you and your addicted son will need setting clear boundaries around yourself, your home, and your finances. Take a hard look at your current relationship. Consider how you may be enabling your adult son’s addiction and promoting co-dependency. Are you giving them shelter, money, or solving other problems for them? Let your adult son know that you will no longer be continuing to engage in behaviors that support their drug addiction.
Make a list of personal boundaries, rules around your home, your finances, and yourself, as well as consequences for breaking these rules. Maybe this means telling your alcoholic son, who is living at home, that he must find his own place to live if he continues to drink. During your conversation with your adult son, make sure you kindly and clearly communicate these boundaries and the repercussions of not following them.
Let them know that these rules are coming from a place of love and out of concern for their safety and your own. You may have onetime tried to enforce boundaries and failed. This may have been because you were unable to follow through, as drug addicts can be especially manipulative and convincing when they are in need. Your adult son may become furious with you when you explain the new boundaries. Fight the desire to give in and remember these rules are for your and their own good. Once the rules and boundaries are set in place, if broken, they should be enforced, otherwise, they are meaningless.
When you sit down and speak to your adult son, let them know that help is available. Do some research and provide them with real options for alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers, rather than speaking in general terms. Although they may not be ready to listen or digest what you are saying, it is good to have something concrete available or, at the very least, to let them know there are real options out there for when they are ready. You might consider contacting an addiction treatment center to find out more about the programs they offer.
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Know Drug Addict Behavior
Drug addict behavior can be scary, frustrating, and make loved ones feel sad and helpless. Below is an overview of some of the typical behaviors of an addict:
Manipulation is a common drug addict behavior. Addicts will say and do anything to keep fueling their addiction, and this includes manipulating the people closest to them. They may try tactics like denial or guilt as part of their manipulation.
Shifting the blame. A drug addict behavior that’s often seen is shifting the blame. Addicts don’t want to be responsible for their own. They want things to be the fault of other people, no matter what.
Lying is one of the number one things that tend to define a drug addict’s behavior is lying. There are many different reasons for a drug addict’s behavior, including lying. The first is because addicts need to cover their own. They will often have to lie to cover where the money went and when they were used.
Neglectfulness. As drug addiction deepens, sufferers will begin to neglect their responsibilities as family members, parents, friends, employees, students, and citizens. Drugs become their priority, and the physical and emotional toll of their drug abuse can make it difficult to manage—or even remember—their personal responsibilities.
Obsession. Many individuals with addiction obsess over obtaining alcohol or drugs as well. Once they get their mindset on something, focusing on anything else is difficult. This may lead to anxiety or irritability which often feeds addictive behavior.
Criminality. Another drug addict behavior that can be a red flag is criminality. Not all drug addicts will become criminals, but many do. They will do things like stealing in order to continue getting drugs, or they may commit crimes like forging prescriptions, depending on their drug of choice. There are also indirect criminal behaviors such as driving under the influence or violence.
Seek a Treatment Center that Offers Family Program
A family program or family therapy involves a therapist and family members improving relationships and resolving family conflict and dysfunction. In family therapy, expressing and processing feelings enhances communication skills and develops stronger and healthier family dynamics. Addiction is a family disease. Therefore, providing a family program and support via therapy can be an integral part of recovery for both the person with an addiction and the family as a unit.
Group therapy for family members of addicts
A family program or family therapy allows for all members of the family unit to be present and active in counseling and intervention. Family programs and therapy may include one-on-one counseling to provide individual insights with the therapist in preparation for all the family members coming together in family programs and therapy. Family programs and therapy provides family members opportunities to share how their members have experienced each other and their feelings related to those experiences. During family programs therapy in the recovery process, relatives can learn if they have been helpful as they intended or unknowingly harmful to their loved one’s addiction.
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How to be a Supportive Parent During Treatment and Recovery?
For those battling drug addiction, life can feel lonely and painful at times. Encouraging positive behavior can be especially empowering and will convey all the potential you see in your child. This level of encouragement and support should be maintained throughout treatment, as it will help her long-term recovery outcomes.
Staying positive is not solely about your son– it also means staying positive for yourself. This means making yourself a priority throughout this process and keeping your stress levels low. Practice self-care methods like meditation and exercise. Participate in activities that you love. Join a parent support group, which may be hosted by your son’s treatment center. By caring for yourself, you will be better able to care for your child, lead by example, and encourage her to be the best she can be.
Look for a trusted treatment facility that provides evidence-based programs aligned with your loved one’s specific circumstances. For example, do you believe your loved one might have other co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression? Seek a program that has the capability to address mental health disorders as well as an addiction such as a dual diagnosis treatment program.
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Ultimately, when you’re analyzing how do I help my son with drug addiction or how to deal with a drug addict daughter, as tough as it may be, you have to let go of fear. Loving an addict frequently means that you’re tormented with persistent fear, and that can lead you to feel hopeless or depressed. You have to try and work on letting go of those feelings and taking care of yourself while moving forward.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, please reach out to a drug abuse counselor today to explore your treatment options. Call us today here at We Level Up New Jersey to get into proper treatment. Above all, recovering from a substance use disorder does not need to be overwhelming or burdensome.
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 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction