HOW DO I TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT GETTING HELP?
When speaking to groups of people about drug abuse or appearing on panels or on talk radio, there are a number of questions that we receive. Some of them are:
- “My son knows that heroin is ruining his life and that he is risking jail. How can I help him stop?”
- "My daughter took methadone and is becoming more listless every day. She says that it is too painful to stop taking methadone. What do I do?”
- “My wife is drinking more and more all day long. She needs help. How do I get through to her?”
- “My husband is taking OxyContin for an injury but the doctor keeps giving him more and more and now he can’t think or function. He says that his pain is increasing. How can I save him?”
- “My daughter has been abusing prescription narcotics and her doctor recommended that she go to a methadone clinic. To me, this is substituting one drug for another. How can I convince her that she needs to stop taking any drugs?”
Generally the person asking the question admits that they have at various times tried to reason with, beg, threaten, yell and scream at the substance abuser, but to no avail. They believe that if they can’t get their loved ones to get help, that jail, a ruined life or an early death is inevitable.
HOPE OF SUCCESS IN GETTING OFF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL
Here are some beliefs that are common to most people with substance abuse problems:
- They have tried to stop drinking or using drugs but have failed and have lost hope that they can ever succeed in being free of alcohol or the drugs.
- They have seen their substance abuse destroy relationships and they don’t believe that they can be repaired.
- They believe that they have ruined their lives and have lost hope of ever having a normal life.
No matter what you say, unless the person has some hope of success, most will not risk failing again. This is something that you have to help the person realize is still possible if you are going to have any real chance of success.
TALKING TO OTHERS ABOUT THEIR ADDICTION
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer on how to speak to others about drugs, but here are some guidelines that have worked for many people:
- No matter how hard it is, you have to decide not to be a parent, wife, child or other relative, but simply to be a friend. Albert Camus, the French novelist, said, “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
- All of us more easily accept help from people we regard as our friends.
- Why? Because our friends want us to succeed.
- None of us accept help easily from someone that we feel doesn’t understand us or is simply trying to get us to do something to make them feel better.
- Understand that the substance abuser is convinced that the use of the substance is helping with a problem that the abuser has or thinks he or she has.
- The problem may be:
- At school;
- With their friends (a way to be popular);
- With their family;
- With their job;
- With some shortcoming that the abuser believes that he or she has.
- This problem may seem trivial to you or even non-existent, but to the person abusing a substance it is very real.
- The substance abuser truly believes that, because of the problem, taking the substance is the right thing to do or the only way they can survive.
- Humans always try to find a way to explain to themselves and others that what they are doing is right.
- We may kick the dog for no reason, but if questioned about it, we say that it was the right thing to do because the dog was about to attack.
- We have a car wreck, and the cause was not because we took our eyes off the road but because the brakes were bad or the other person stopped too soon.
- The substance abuser truly believes (or did believe at one point) that using the drug or alcohol is the right thing to do.
FEAR OF WITHDRAWAL FROM ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCES
After the loss of hope, the biggest impediment to getting help is fear. The substance abuser is afraid of:
- The pain of withdrawal
- How they are going to confront their problems without the substance
- They are afraid that without the drug and/or alcohol, they will not be able to face life or, in some cases, be able to tolerate the pain that they believe is there
Assuming that you agree with the above points, how you apply them when you speak to your loved one is very dependent on the individual situation. However, simply telling the substance abuser that they must stop taking the drug seldom, if ever, works.
HOW YOU CAN HELP SOMEONE WHO IS ADDICTED
Here are some ideas of how you might apply this data:
- First, and most important, decide that you are going to be their friend;
- Second, decide that you are going to make it safe enough for them to tell you the problem that they are trying to solve.
- This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what they are doing, but it does mean that they need to understand that you really care and want to provide any help that they are willing to receive.
- Sometimes they will tell you if you ask, “What is ruining your life?” Remember, it is not important what you think of the problem, only that it is what the substance abuser says is the problem. Accept it at face value and proceed.
- Once you have helped them to identify the problem, acknowledge that it is a real problem and that you can see how abusing a substance might seem to be a solution.
- The next step is to gently direct the person to look at some other possible solutions.
- Remember, after years of facing problems and experiencing life through the altered perceptions caused by alcohol and drugs, most addicts are terrified of how they are going to react to problems after they are off drugs or alcohol.
- What will their personality be like?
- Will they be able to experience joy and how will they react to issues at the job or with their spouse or children or friends?
- Environment can be an important factor.
- If the person can be made to look around their environment and spot things that are adding stress, they may find a person or even a thing,like an unreliable car.
- Maybe it is where they are living.
- Maybe they need to move.
- Maybe they need a new job or even a new school.
- Maybe they need to find new friends.
- Taking these stresses out of their life will often free enough energy that the person will see things more clearly.
- Education is another important factor.
- At Novus Medical Detox Center, we have found that few of our patients understand what the substance is doing to their bodies.
- It is a big mystery, an unknown, and all of us tend to fear the unknown.
- This is easily handled.
- There is also a wealth of information available on the internet.
- Telling someone that a substance is bad for them is no substitute for showing them data explaining what effect the substance is having on them.
- Here are some articles that you might show them:
- If they are taking the opioid like OxyContin for pain, then have them read Opioids Increasing Pain;
- If they are worried about the pain of opioid withdrawal, have them read No Opiate/Opioid Withdrawal Pain?
- If they are on a high dose of methadone, have them read High Dose Methadone Detox.
- If they have an alcohol problem, have them read Need Alcohol Detox—Why Novus?
- If they are on methadone for pain, have them read Methadone—A Killer.
- If they are on methadone instead of heroin, have them read The Methadone Prison.
- If they are looking at going on Suboxone, have them read this article on Suboxone.
- Get them a thorough medical exam. Let them know that one of the reasons that many have a substance abuse problem is due to a physiological problem.
- At Novus Medical Detox Center, we recommend that our patients see a type of medical doctor who practices Integrative Medicine or Holistic Medicine. These doctors are willing to take the time to find the cause of symptoms and not just treat the symptoms.
- Sometimes, getting someone hydrated eliminates most of their symptoms.
- Sometimes changing the diet or repairing vitamin and mineral deficiencies will make marked changes almost immediately.
- We have found that a person abusing a substance has underlying medical and nutritional issues that, once resolved, will make it much easier for them to stop abusing the substance.
- Once the substance abuser has a solution to the problem, has removed as much stress as possible from their environment, has educated himself or herself and has benefited from a medical handling, then the new problem for the substance abuser is how to confront the pain of the withdrawal from the substance.
- Again, many of the substance abusers have tried to withdraw but couldn’t carry through with it because of the pain.
- Fortunately, Novus Medical Detox Center has developed protocols that safely and more comfortably allow people to withdraw from these substances.
- One way to address this problem is to show the substance abuser the success stories of patients who came to Novus to come off the same substance. Success Stories
- This next point is vital: You should have a plan for the withdrawal and treatment.
- If the substance abuser decides to withdraw from the abused substance, then they should be immediately taken to detox, if stopping the drug or quitting drinking could cause medical problems or if the pain of withdrawal would be too much.
- Or they can just go directly to rehab.
- You can call our counselors at and they will guide you as to whether a detox is needed or provide you with some referrals to rehab facilities.
- Whenever they agree to get help, stop and take them to treatment.
- If it happens after they become educated, then take them to treatment.
- The activities of our lives can change the way we see things almost from one moment to the next.
- This is why you cannot wait even a day to allow them to get things ready, because it is highly likely that they will change their minds about treatment and you will have to start over.
- Remember, the reason people don’t get help is almost never the time required to detox and complete an effective rehab program. It is also never the money it costs for detox and rehab. When you consider what the abuser is spending on their drug and/or alcohol and what it costs them and their families, detox and rehab are great financial investments and are repaid many times over because in the end they save the addicted person’s life.
- How do you put a price on saving someone’s life?
- How do you put a price on getting a spouse back?
- How do you put a price on getting a father or mother or child back?
If you decide that you want to help someone handle their substance abuse, the important thing is to really want to help the person. Real help is also real listening. It is real caring. It is not talking at someone but talking with someone. Have a plan and a solution that you can present if the substance abuser agrees to get help. This may be one of the most important conversations that you will have—it may save a life.
If you are not comfortable having this conversation, then enlist the help of your pastor or another friend or hire an interventionist. Done correctly, you will provide the gift of a life—a drug free life. Call our Detox Advisors at and they will help.
The Beatles’ John Lennon was a heavy user of drugs and alcohol. After he handled his addiction, he had a message for addicted people. He said, “The basic thing nobody asks is why do people take drugs of any sort? Why do we have these accessories to normal living to live? I mean, is there something wrong with society that’s making us so pressurized, that we cannot live without guarding ourselves against it? If people take any notice of what we say, we say we’ve been through the drug scene, man, and there’s nothing like being straight.”
At Novus Medical Detox Center, we specialize in helping people find a cure to the problems caused by drugs and alcohol. People also come to us for a safe and more comfortable:
- Alcohol detox;
- OxyContin detox;
- Oxycodone detox;
- Methadone detox;
- Vicodin detox;
- Hydrocodone, Percocet or Lortab detox;
- Fentanyl patch detox;
- Detox from other unwanted drugs.
Please contact us if we can help someone that you know.
NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.
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