Growing up, addiction was a taboo topic in my family, and in society in general. It might be common nowadays to see celebrities share their addiction and recovery story on their Facebook or Instagram pages, but not very long ago nobody dared to talk about it. Addiction is an uncomfortable subject, and people don’t want to feel uncomfortable. That is why I think, even though some people have started to speak up about it, it might still take a long time before society understands that addiction is an illness and that it can happen to anyone.
Yes, to anyone. Even the people who we think of as strong and in control of their lives can develop an addiction. That’s what happened to my mom. When I was a teenager my mother started having sleeping problems. Her lack of sleep was interfering with her work and daily life, so she visited a doctor who prescribed her sleeping pills. Everything was fine at first. She was able to sleep soundly every night and she felt better during the day.
But then she asked the doctor to up her dose. Whenever she was running out of pills she would get anxious, even paranoid. She wasn’t able to fall asleep without them, and if at first she only needed one pill to put her to sleep, soon enough she started needing 2, maybe 3 each night to get the effect she wanted. She was addicted, but neither my dad, my two siblings or me were aware of it.
The first one to realize she had developed an addiction was my father. It is always hard to accept a loved one is an addict, and naturally, it hit me and my siblings hard. But at the end of the day, it was our support what helped her through her recovery process and motivated her to get better. Today, I would like to share 5 ways in which you can help a loved one who is addicted to sleeping pills.
Recognize the Symptoms
The reason why it took so long for us to realize my mom was addicted was that we never knew what the symptoms of addiction were. Whenever I heard the term drug addict I thought of a homeless man with needle scars on his forearms who begged for money on the streets. I never knew that someone could be addicted and still carry on with their lives normally.
There were symptoms, such as changes in her appetite, becoming more irritable, and memory loss. The problem was we didn’t know they were symptoms of an addiction. The first step into helping someone with an addiction is recognizing he or her has one. Depending on the type of medication your loved one is addicted to, the symptoms might be different, so pay close attention to him or her, and if they start showing unusual behaviors contact a professional.
Stage an Intervention
Addicts usually have a hard time accepting they have a problem. They think that they are in control of the situation and that they can quit anytime they want. And that’s normal, denial is a part of addiction. But in order for them to get clean, they have to accept that they have an addiction, and getting them to this realization can be difficult since they can get angry and think that you are against them.
Staging an intervention can be an effective way to help them accept their problem. An intervention is a meeting in which the people the addict cares about tell him or her how their addiction is affecting them and why they think he or she should get help, as well as provide him or her with information about possible treatment options. The idea is to do it alongside a professional that can guide you to say things in the best way so that your loved one won’t get angry and will finally accept his or her condition.
Finding the Best Treatment
There are many different types of treatment for addiction, such as inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, twelve-step programs, among others. Finding the right type of treatment according to your loved one’s conditions can be determined in his or her recovery process. There is actually a lot of useful information online about the different treatment options for addicts, so make sure you do some research and maybe contact a professional before choosing a treatment for your loved one.
After looking through a lot of options, we found that the best one for my mom was an inpatient treatment at a rehabilitation center. We are now certain that it was the best choice we ever made, but it was a decision that we made as a family, taking into account several doctors’ recommendations and my mom’s opinion as well.
Recovery is a very tough road. During this time your loved one will experience both physical and emotional pain, so constantly reminding him or her that you love them and that you will be there through it all is a great motivation for them to stay strong through this very difficult time. Be patient, be forgiving, tell them how proud you are for taking this brave step. These gestures can go a long way.
When my mom was in rehab we used to write her letters telling her how much we loved her and how proud of her we were. On the weekends we would visit her and tell her about our lives. She later told us that recovery was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do, but knowing she had our support and that we still loved her unconditionally were the things that helped her push through it whenever she was feeling weak.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of someone who is struggling with addiction can be absolutely draining, and if you don’t take care of yourself it will be counterproductive since it can lead to great stress and even illnesses. The only way you can help someone else is by helping yourself first.
I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but don’t let your loved one’s addiction become the center of your life. Be there for them, help them in the ways that you can, but remember that you have a life too. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as practicing a sport, reading, or playing an instrument. Don’t isolate yourself, connect with friends, family, and maybe even people who are going through the same situation who can understand exactly what you are feeling.
My mom has been sober for more than 15 years now. Even though it was very hard for us, her addiction made us all grow as persons and brought us closer as a family. There is a bright side to any situation, and even if it seems hopeless, addiction is something that can be overcome with the help of loved ones, and my mom is living proof of it.
I hope these 5 tips were helpful. If you’d like to add something or ask a question, please leave a comment below.