How to Care for a Person with Substance Use Disorder

A caretaker talking to an addict

If you have a loved one that’s addicted to something, your life is probably a roller coaster of emotions. You may feel helpless and frustrated and not know how to help them. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many people are in the same situation as you. Here are some tips on how to care for someone with a substance use disorder.

What You Need to Know

Substance use disorder can cause changes in the brain that make it difficult for people to control their impulses and resist powerful cravings for prohibited substances. These changes can last long after someone stops using drugs and make it hard for them to stay clean even when they want to stop. This is why addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease—people in recovery are at high risk for relapse even after long periods of abstinence.

There are many reasons why someone may develop a substance use disorder. Some people are more vulnerable to addiction because of genetic factors, while others may develop a substance use disorder as a result of trauma or stress. No matter what the cause, substance use disorders can have serious consequences

Substance abuse can lead to problems at work, school, and home; financial difficulties; legal trouble; and relationship problems. People with substance use disorders are also at increased risk for developing other mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, it can lead to chronic medical problems such as liver disease, heart disease, and lung disease. In severe cases, addiction can be deadly.

What You Should Remember

With the challenges that come with it, it can be hard to remember that substance use disorder is actually a disease. However, it is of utmost importance that you remember the fact that it is a disease because it affects how you think about people who suffer from it.

Too often, people with substance use disorder are seen as weak or morally corrupted. But if you remember that they are suffering from a disease, you can see them as sick people who need help, not as bad people who must be punished.

To help people suffering from substance use disorder, you must start by destigmatizing the disease. This means challenging the myths and stereotypes that fuel the stigma associated with addiction. It also means providing and promoting accurate information about addiction and its causes. You should also encourage more open and honest conversations about addiction.

In addition, when caring for someone who is dealing with this, make an effort to create more opportunities for brutal honesty without judgment. And during these opportunities, make sure that your language reflects compassion and understanding rather than stigma and judgment.

By destigmatizing substance use disorder, you can create a more open and supportive environment where people feel comfortable seeking help for their disease. And that is how you can truly make a difference in the lives of those suffering from substance use disorder.

Actions to Take

You may want to do anything you can to help them through this difficult time. So, what actions can you take to care for someone with a substance use disorder?

1. Educate yourself.

One of the most important things you can do to help is to educate yourself about addiction. By understanding its causes and effects, you can be better equipped to provide support and care for your loved one. Additionally, learning about it can help you to avoid enabling behaviors that can perpetuate the cycle of addiction.

An alcoholic drinking while driving

2. Create a support network.

One of the most important things you can do in this situation is to create a supportive network. Creating a supportive network of family and friends can provide much-needed emotional and practical assistance. This can include family, friends, and even professional counselors or therapists. Additionally, it can be helpful to offer practical support, such as helping to find resources or providing transportation to meetings or appointments.

3. Encourage them to seek professional help.

Finally, encourage them to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. This can get them the specialized assistance they need to overcome their addiction. Addiction counselors are specially trained to deal with the unique challenges of addiction, and they can provide the individualized care that is often necessary for recovery.

In addition, therapy can provide people with the opportunity to explore the underlying causes of their addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms. If you are concerned about someone you care about, encourage them to seek professional help from a therapist, counselor, or drug and alcohol rehab center. It could be the first step on the road to recovery.

Being the caretaker of someone with a substance use disorder is no easy task. It’s a full-time job, but it’s an essential job. If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, remember that they need your help and compassion to overcome their disease.


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