Cenikor Donations

June 2021 | Cenikor Foundation

A Guide to Recognizing and Talking with Someone Who Is Suffering from Addiction

Do you know someone who’s dealing with addiction? Studies show that 31.9 million Americans aged 12 years and older have used illegal drugs in the past 30 days. They also found that 14.8 million people in this same age group have an alcohol use disorder.

You may feel intimidated or even scared to discuss addiction with the individual. Yet you want to help or need to protect yourself or others. Keep reading this article to find ways to navigate this difficult conversation.

Biological Changes to the Brain in Those Suffering from Addiction

First, it’s key to understand that drug and alcohol abuse changes how the brain responds. This gives the individual less control and makes it very difficult to win the battle.

National Institute of Health-funded scientists have studied the biology of addiction. They’ve shown that addiction is a complex, long-term brain disease. Even if the individual quits, they’re always at risk for a relapse.

Understanding the biological changes of addiction explains why it’s not just about willpower. While the individual does need a personal level of commitment, that is only one factor. Research shows that addiction controls and destroys key brain areas tasked with survival.

Healthy brains experience rewards from bonding with others, eating, or exercising, for example. Circuits in the brain turn on and make you feel good and motivated to repeat the behaviors.

When you’re in danger, the brain generates fear or alarm. It then helps you fight or get to safety. The brain’s frontal lobe helps you control temptations and understand the consequences.

Brains exposed to drugs or alcohol develop different pleasure and reward responses. The person’s brain tells them they want more and more of the addictive substance.

Addiction can also cause the emotional danger-sensing areas to go into overdrive. This leads to anxiety and stress when the person doesn’t use the substance. Now the person feels compelled to use drugs or alcohol to avoid feeling bad instead of for pleasure.

Ongoing use of drugs damages the decision-making areas in the frontal lobe of the brain. Brain imaging has shown reduced activity in this part of the brain of addicted persons. Thus, they can’t recognize the harm of abusing drugs or alcohol.

Factors That Contribute to the Risk of Addiction

Scientists found that genetic factors can increase an individual’s risk of addiction. However, not all members of the same family will experience addiction. At this time, experts don’t have an answer for this phenomenon.

Environmental exposure, abuse, and extreme stress can also be causative factors. The age when someone starts using drugs or alcohol impacts their risk as well. The younger you start, the greater the risk for addiction later in life.

Since the teenage brain isn’t fully developed, they’re more susceptible. Their under-developed frontal region means less impulse control and ability to evaluate risk.

The adolescent pleasure circuits operate in overdrive. This means they experience enhanced reward responses to drugs and alcohol.

Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Are you concerned about a friend or loved one’s use of drugs or alcohol? Do you wonder if they’re addicted? The following provides an overview of the signs to look for.

  • They’re unable to get through the day without using the substance.
  • They need more of the substance to feel the same effect.
  • They take unnecessary risks when under the influence.
  • They make life-threatening and dangerous choices.
  • They have violent behavior or outbursts.
  • They neglect their responsibilities.
  • They have sore muscles and joints due to swelling from the toxins.
  • They have stomach bloating, pain, gas, or diarrhea.
  • They develop eczema, acne, itching, or other skin problems.
  • They have sleep problems.
  • They feel anxious or depressed.
  • They have memory problems and mood swings.
  • They lose interest in normal daily activities.
  • Their energy level may be very high or low.

For those with an addiction to prescription medications, they may change doctors frequently. They’ll also use different pharmacies and even forge prescriptions.

How to Encourage Someone Who’s Dealing with Addiction to Seek Help

So, how do you talk with the individual about their addiction and encourage them to go to rehab? It’s important to know that loved ones have a great impact on the person with an addiction.

You may wish to gather a group with the joint goal of helping your loved one. Begin by expressing your feelings for them and your concerns.

It’s important to show love and support as well as set boundaries for addictive behavior. Voice your concerns in a clear, calm, and concise manner. This can help influence the person’s decision to get treatment.

Keep offering to provide information about rehab programs and other strategies. Constant social support may be the key to getting the person to accept that they need help.

Don’t forget that addiction is a brain disease and not a choice or moral failing. The goal of treatment is to help the person manage their condition. You can’t fight this battle for them.

When you set boundaries, stick to them while continuing to encourage them to get help. Addiction counseling is an important tool for the individual and their loved ones.

Ensure that you practice healthy living and abstain from drug or alcohol use. Provide support but don’t cover up the consequences of addiction. The individual needs to deal with the problems related to their disease.

Remain optimistic while working within the boundaries and encouraging treatment. If they relapse, understand that this is part of the disease process. Keep providing support.

Is It Time to Address Addiction in Your Life?

Dealing with addiction is challenging for everyone involved. Cenikor provides a place to work toward better health and living. We’re committed to helping people with drug and alcohol addiction.

Our team also treats behavioral health issues using a full continuum of care. Our nonprofit organization serves over 1,000 clients each week. Contact us today and let us help you find a new chapter in your life.


The Effects of Addiction on Family and Friends

Many people believe battling a substance use disorder is a personal experience. Because of the effects of addiction, it can be highly damaging to the individual. Many people don’t think about the other people directly involved, such as the person’s family and friends.

Partners, children, parents, and friends of someone battling with addiction also experience emotional damage. They may also have to deal with financial, legal, medical, and other consequences.

How Addiction Hurts Your Family and Friends

The effects of alcohol and drug addiction can be both short and long-term. Happy, peaceful, and loving families can be wrecked by the strain resulting from drug and alcohol addiction. Conflict and violence may become commonplace when family members have a son or daughter misusing drugs and alcohol.


Loss of Trust

With time, trust may break down between family and friends. Relatives may become depressed if their loved one abusing legal drugs begins to act with aggression or attempts to hide their condition in secrecy.

Broken Relationships/Divorce

Marriages can break due to changes resulting from addiction. Communication becomes more challenging, leading to frustration.

Inability to Recognize Loved Ones

Many family members and friends may see their loved ones deal with harsh side effects of drugs or become angry or violent when under the influence. Others may notice their loved ones lose weight rapidly and become almost unrecognizable.


Some people may not hear from a loved one for a significant period only to find out they’re living on the streets or have overdosed from drugs. Such shock and trauma can cause people to create unhealthy coping mechanisms. For example, codependent behaviors, like making excuses for their loved one’s choices and habits.


How Addiction Impacts Young Children

Many children grow up in homes where a parent abuses drugs or alcohol. Watching the trauma and devastation of a parent suffering addiction as a child has long-term effects on them. Kids growing up watching a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to have substance use disorders of their own in adulthood.

Generational Trauma

Seeing a parent on drugs often leads to distressing feelings and emotions. This can lead to delays in learning and development and mental and emotional problems. As children are still extremely vulnerable to external influences and are getting comfortable with their personalities, they may end up repeating the behaviors of their parents.

Emotional Distress

Kids may experience seeing aggressive or violent behavior due to a parent’s drug and alcohol use. Arguments between parents may become common, leading to emotional distress watching family members fight.

Early exposure to a household divided by substance abuse can lead a child to feel emotionally and physically unsafe and neglected. This can make them more mentally and emotionally unstable.

Poor Self Image

Kids dealing with addiction may develop guilt and self-blame for their parent’s addiction problems. They may develop emotions of unworthiness or create unhealthy and dysfunctional attachments in their adulthood.

Loss of Custody

In severe cases, children may be removed from their home and their parents and placed into care.


Teenage Addiction Affects the Family

Underaged drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adults. This is known as binge drinking. Many young people drink alcohol regularly.

Marijuana use is also common in teens and is more popular than cigarette smoking and other drug use.

Teenagers receive peer pressure in school and are consistently exposed to temptation for trying new or dangerous substances. Many teenagers are still developing their personality and growing their identity, so they are still impressionable. Likewise, teenagers who’ve experienced parental substance abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol when they’re older.

Teenage substance addiction can result from external sources like peer pressure from school and internal factors such as genetics and self-medication. Drugs like cocaine can overstimulate young people, leading them to sleep less and work poorly in school. Or it may encourage them to hang out with peers who abuse drugs.

Prescription opioids and synthetic opioids may create euphoric feelings and effects, but they require continued use with adverse side effects.

Teenage substance addiction has a direct impact on family members and friends, including:

  • Financial problems
  • Poor school performance
  • Exposure to other substances
  • Reckless behavior within the home
  • Stealing money from parents to pay for their habit
  • Running away from home
  • Causing parental grief

Young people may become overwhelmed with addictive substances and problem relationships at home and may decide to run away from home. Strained relationships with parents and other relatives can seem to push troubled teenagers toward drugs and alcohol to ‘escape.’ Once a teenager runs away from home, they’re more vulnerable to sexual, emotional, and financial exploitation.


Dealing with the Effects of Addiction

When a loved one is suffering from the effects of addiction, one of the most helpful things you can do is to educate yourself about addiction and dependence problems. Then you’ll discover the most and least valuable courses of action.

You’re also likely to discover that once you understand what your friend or family member is experiencing, it can be easier to manage the pain caused by their actions.

Watching a loved one get trapped by addiction to the point where they feel there’s no way out can be devastating. Help your family member or friend find treatment to help them on the road to recovery by browsing our wide range of programs here at Cenikor or calling us at 888-236-4567 to discuss a specific and individual course of action.

See our treatment programs here and help your loved one beat their addiction. You can help your loved one find a safe, effective rehab or treatment service that focuses on rebuilding connection and love, helping them start a happy, new, sober life.

Chat & Phone Support Timings
Mon – Fri: 8AM to 7PM
Sat – Sun: 8AM to 5PM
Translate »