Is Your Loved One Suffering from Co-occuring primary Mental Health Disorders & Secondary Addiction Illness?
When someone you love is suffering from primary mental health disorders along with a secondary illness like addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is natural to want to help them. However, you might not be sure how to. It’s hard to know what to do or say. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are common when providing help for a loved one. You may have tried talking to them or offered various forms of help, but to no avail. You are not alone. Getting someone to admit that they have a problem and that they need to accept help is rarely a smooth and quick process. Persistence is key. In due time, you can get your loved ones the help they need and deserve.
When a family member is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it can affect more than just the person in need of recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration of the US Department of Health & Human Services , evidence has shown that some people have a genetic predisposition for developing mental and substance use disorders and may be at greater risk. This is based on environmental factors such as having grown up in a home affected by a family member’s mental health or history of substance use. Families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family.
How to Get Your Loved One the Help They Need?
Find The Right Time To Talk
Increase your chances of getting through to your loved ones by trying to talk to them when they are as sober as possible. You want them to be able to think clearly about your conversation and to be able to react calmly. Unfortunately, talking to someone when they are intoxicated may go poorly or even forget the conversation.
Typically, the morning or after a major drug-related incident is the best time to try and talk to someone with a drug or alcohol addiction. This is because, after an incident, your loved ones may be particularly vulnerable and receptive to getting help. Additionally, whether you plan on having a one-on-one conversation or an intervention, making plans to have a challenging conversation in the morning is a safe bet.
Be Intentional With What You Say
Words have power, and they can either drive someone away or lead to a breakthrough. Before you even try sparking a conversation or leading an intervention, make sure that everyone involved thinks long and hard about the words they use. The words you use and the way you say them are critical. Rehearse what you have to say and how you plan on saying it. Focus on being warm and open in your voice, tone, and body language. If things start to take a negative turn, change the subject and resist any urge, you may have to fight or argue.
Understand the Recovery Process
Research mental health and co-occurring addiction treatment programs so that you can speak intelligently about what substance abuse treatment is all about. Do you know how to help people struggling with alcohol abuse manage withdrawal symptoms? or what to expect from cocaine detox? Do you know the difference between PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) and IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) treatment?
Look into different types of therapy and find a few other centers that you can present as options to your loved one. Consider the benefits of a holistic program that offers alternative addiction treatment. Also, read through some stories written by those who have been through treatment. This can help give you perspective.
Become a Part of the Process
Get involved and let your loved ones know that you will be by their side. Many treatment facilities include family therapy as a part of their program. In family therapy, you all can work through any underlying issues and build better communication.
You can also find an open Alcoholics Anonymous (Al-Anon) or Narcotics Anonymous (Nar-Anon) meeting that you can attend together. Some people prefer to attend group support meetings without their families so that they can speak more openly, but others appreciate the familiar company. Don’t be afraid to ask if they want your company, and then respect the decision.
Set and Maintain Boundaries
There is a fine line between enabling and supporting. To avoid crossing this line:
- Set firm boundaries and stick to them.
- Make it clear that rehab and recovery mean they are expected to dedicate a specific amount of time to treatment programming.
- Offer support in the form of verbal statements, but make sure they contribute to their recovery in ways more than just showing up.
This will help your loved ones help themselves. They will take their recovery seriously and take some of the pressure and stress off of you.
Let Them Decide to Identify as an Addict
If your loved one has a severe secondary SUD in addition to their primary mental health illness, don’t judge. And don’t call your loved one an addict unless they have already identified themselves in this manner. It is up to the individual to choose how they identify. Additionally, saying a person with “mental health illness” with addiction instead of “an addict” confirms that they are more than their illness and that this part of their life does not define their entire being.
Becoming a person with an addiction problem doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does recovery. Every step of this journey is going to be a process. Getting sober takes time, and staying sober does not often happen on the first try. There will be good days and bad, but consistency in your patience, love, and support will go a long way. This brings us to the last tip for getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Don’t Give Up
An intervention does not always assure admission to a treatment program. If your first conversation doesn’t appear to change anything, you can never know for sure the effect it will have on their head. It might take 2 or 20 attempts before you make a breakthrough. Even once your loved one does enter a drug and alcohol treatment program, this does not guarantee long-term sobriety. Relapse is always a possibility. There may be times when your loved ones will want to give up themselves, and they may need you to keep trying for the both of you. Don’t give up. You and your love are powerful.
How You Can Help Support Your Loved One’s Recovery
Addiction can be a lonely disease that an afflicted individual will shoulder for the rest of their life. Family plays a crucial role in helping someone with an alcohol addiction problem get treatment and stay sober following treatment. When your loved one is in addiction recovery, there are numerous things you can do to encourage them to stay sober. These tips are always helpful, but primarily for the first few months and years of recovery.
Encourage Them to Follow Their Treatment Methods
Just as addiction is different in each case, treatment is prescribed the same. Depending on the conditions, your loved one may spend upwards of 60 to 90 days in a full-time inpatient treatment program, or they may go to detox for a week and then enter an outpatient treatment program that only requires 4 to 6 hours of treatment per week. Even something as small as a kind reminder or giving a ride to their treatment program can go a long way. Just going to a meeting requires effort on an addict’s part, and sometimes, a little push goes a long way.
It may seem obvious, but don’t offer any alcoholic drinks to someone in recovery. Rather, keep non-alcoholic drinks around, such as orange juice and club soda. Ensure they know how to easily find these non-alcoholic drink substitutes, especially during parties when alcohol is present. You might even offer to make a nice non-alcoholic drink for both of you.
Provide Social Support
Having social support is very important in addiction recovery. It can encourage recovering addicts to stay motivated, be responsible, or be relied on. You can also help someone in recovery by serving as a cushion in social situations. For example, if you start to see any judgment or conflict coming from others, step in and change the subject or pull the person away by saying you need them in the other room.
Let’s say your daughter just went through detox last month, and Uncle John starts asking why she wasn’t at grandpa’s birthday party. All that is needed is a simple, “Honey, I need you in the kitchen to help me peel the potatoes.” Another example: If your brother is a recovering alcoholic, you may offer to join them the next time they go out with friends. Better yet, find things that you can do together that do not involve the old routines when your loved one drinks. For example, look into a trip to a farm or go on a walk through the mall.
Encourage Participation in Support Groups
AA meetings and other support groups do just that; They offer support. These meetings create a safe space where addicts can talk openly about their struggles with sobriety and support one another in their journey to recovery.
If your loved one attends open AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings, you can offer to join them at the meeting. Joining them, especially when they are first starting to attend meetings, might help them feel more comfortable and shows an extra level of support. Who knows, you might find the meetings helpful for yourself as well.
Also, try to be open to joining a therapy session. If the therapist thinks it could help, then offering to go is a great gesture.
Educate Yourself on Addiction Recovery & Relapse
Reading this article is a great start, but there is a lot to know about addiction, recovery, and relapse. Educate yourself on the detox process for the substance that they are addicted to. Take an interest in the type of treatment program they are going into and what it entails, and know the signs of relapse. If you know what to look for and how to intervene, then you could help save your loved one’s life.
Call A Treatment Facility
If your loved one is suffering from a substance abuse disorder, contact a treatment center to get advice on how to get clean. The best way to get an addict admitted to a program is case by case and differs depending on several factors. Talk to an addiction specialist. They are professionals at walking you through this process.
Family Intervention Can Start the Healing Process
Getting a loved one to agree to accept help, and finding support services for all family members are the first steps toward healing for the addicted person and the entire family. When an addicted person is reluctant to seek help, sometimes family members, friends, and associates come together out of concern and love, to confront the problem drinker.
They strongly urge the person to enter treatment and list the serious consequences of not doing so, such as a family breakup or job loss. This is called “intervention.” When carefully prepared and done with the guidance of a competent, trained specialist, the family, friends, and associates are usually able to convince their loved one – in a firm and loving manner – that the only choice is to accept help and begin the road to recovery. People with alcohol or drug dependence problems can and do recover. Intervention is often the first step.
Find the Help You Need at We Level Up
Helping someone with a mental health problem along with secondary co-occurring addiction takes education, patience, and empathy. And it all starts by talking to someone who has the knowledge and expertise and understands the struggle. Getting Help for a loved one may be challenging, but it can start by speaking to one of our behavioral treatment specialists. Our friendly primary mental health specialists won’t give up on you. Call us now at We Level Up FL to talk about it. We have a 24/7 hotline that is ready to assist you.
For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox may be required first. If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration – https://www.samhsa.gov/families