substance use

Substance Use Disorder: How to Help

The fifth edition (DSM-5) published in 2013 recategorizes substance abuse, addiction, or alcoholism as Substance Use Disorder (SUD), which encompasses both drugs and alcohol, and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) focused solely on alcohol. We can’t talk about mental health without talking about how so many people need treatment and often self-medicate.

My life has been affected by substance abuse. My grandfather was an alcoholic. My step-father struggled with alcohol for years, even after he was diagnosed with liver failure. My ex, who I’ve talked about before, struggled with alcohol and substances. It has a huge impact on relationships.ย 

Recently, my ex contacted me after having no contact for two years. They were sober and were wondering if we could be friends. I said yes. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago they relapsed. Substance Use Disorder sucks. It sucks for everyone involved. I hate the feeling of helplessness.

For me, that’s always the part I struggled with the most. I am a fixer. I like to make things better. Years ago, I burnt myself out trying to fix things. I constantly felt like I was trying to hold everything together and the strain almost broke me.

This time was different. The years that we didn’t have contact with each other, I learned a lot and I wanted to share some of those things with you. I know they’re hard. The closer you are to the person the harder they are. When I was in that relationship many of these things felt impossible. But they are necessary.

Don’t Fund Them

Learn what enabling is and then try not to do it. When I was with my ex, I often felt like I had to give them money because if I didn’t they’d put themselves in risky situations. But the risky situations happened anyway. Not helping is hard.

If your loved one is refusing to get help and trying to deal with the problem on their own instead, then giving them money will only enable them further into their addiction. It feels wrong, it goes against every you feel is right, especially because many people with SUD are often in a bad financial situation. You feel like you have to make sure they have food, a phone, or a place to live. You’re the only thing that stands between them and destruction. But that’s not your job and the toll that it takes on you mentally, emotionally, and financially – can do so much harm. It ends up hurting you and the people around you. If you want them to get help, it’s important that you don’t enable them

Educate Yourself About Substance Use Disorder

You can’t force somebody to get treatment. They need to want it themselves and they need to be willing to take that step, but you can educate yourself on the topic. Therapy can help. Support groups can help. Al-Anon, a support group for the friends and families of someone abusing substances, can help.

It’s also important to learn how substance abuse is often a way to cope with trauma, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. It is the act of someone who is hurting and someone who doesn’t know how to feel better in any other way.

Present Them With Their Options

You may have read up on the risks of alcohol addiction and what can happen if they don’t get help, but your loved one might not take you seriously. Even if they are refusing treatment, this doesn’t mean that you should give up trying to convince them otherwise. Do some research and look at some American Addiction Centers reviews so you know what their treatment options are. Even if they are not ready to take the first step yet, you will be ready and waiting to get the process started when they are. 

Have Boundaries

“I can not have you in my life if you’re in active addiction.” That’s my boundary and it can suck because a lot of the time the person will choose substances over their relationship with you. But boundaries are important because you are important too. The constant drama, the dangerous situations, feeling taken advantage of – those things can destroy you as much as the addiction is destroying your loved one.

Consider An Intervention

An intervention can be an effective way of getting someone help. When combined with some research about your loved oneโ€™s options, it can be a very persuasive tool in encouraging them to seek treatment. However, interventions are not for everybody and they also need to be handled in the right way. Interventionists are experts that can help you every step of the way.

someone for their substance use disorder when you do these things. You can still tell them you love them. You can still give them supportive and encouraging words and advice. But it has to come with limits and boundaries.