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How Can You Help Someone With a Substance Use Disorder?

It can be difficult watching a loved one go through the struggles of battling a substance use disorder, or SUD. With how common addiction and SUD are, there’s a good chance that someone close to you has experienced what it’s like to overcome addiction. Once substance use disorder takes hold, it can change everything about that person’s life before anyone realizes what’s going on. The key is knowing what to do the moment you find out that addiction and SUD has started creeping into the life of a loved one.

How To Recognize Substance Use Disorder

Addicted individuals tend to be as private as possible about their substance abuse in order to avoid judgment from those they love and respect. Despite their best efforts, it’s impossible to fully disguise SUD meaning there are signs you can look out for if you suspect something has changed whether that be a different demeanor or lack of concern for things they normally care about.

One of the most common examples are problems at home, work or even school. For the latter two, performance can quickly plummet while abusing substances as the person’s mind struggles to think about anything other than acquiring more of their substance of choice. At home, relationships may become tense and volatile in an otherwise peaceful household.

Depending on the severity of their SUD, the individual may start to present side effects that impact their mental and physical health. Certain drugs will have different side effects, but a good starting point would be to look out for:

  • Changes in sleep or diet
  • Extreme weight loss or gain
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Poor memory recall
  • Slow reaction speeds
  • Lack of critical thinking
  • Hand tremors
  • Flu-like illnesses
  • Nosebleeds

Outside of these physical changes, you may also notice a change in their behavior. If the person starts being more secretive about what they’re doing while lashing out or getting defensive about the subject, they’re likely trying to hide their substance use disorder.

How Do I Bring up the Topic?

First and foremost, be open and honest about how the individual’s substance use has impacted you. Share your concerns for both the person and the relationship you two have. Be mindful of what they have to say and don’t take anything negative to heart. It’s a scary and confusing time for them and too much pressure can cause them to put up walls and keep everyone out.

When the time comes and they’re ready to seek treatment, you should already have a treatment center lined up to immediately get them checked in. In cases where they refuse treatment, a staged intervention can be a great boon in your attempts to help them recover. Gather a few of the people closest to the individual and let them share how they’ve been impacted and how much it means to them that the individual seeks out treatment.

What Else Should I Be Doing?

There’s a fine line to be drawn when it comes to what to do and how much to help a loved one fighting SUD. It’s hard to not come to the rescue of a friend in need, but this can quickly turn into enabling them by essentially cleaning up the messes their substance abuse has made. Examples include taking over responsibilities they’ve left behind or providing them with financial assistance repeatedly.

Drawing this line in the sand is how you set healthy boundaries that protect both you and your relationship while treatment is found. Make sure you open up the conversation when you’re both calm and sober, focusing on wanting to preserve the relationship while also helping them in constructive and positive ways. Part of the conversation needs to be consequences if boundaries are crossed such as cutting off communication or refusing to aid them in fixing the outcomes of their decisions.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment

All of these steps to help a loved one with SUD are leading up to treatment at an addiction recovery center. America’s Rehab Campus is one of the nation’s leading treatment centers, providing all levels of treatment that helps patients from intake to aftercare overcome their addiction. Reach out to our team today for a free consultation to get started!