Who Is Considered to Be a Drug or Alcohol Addict?
Addiction is a brain disease where the individual becomes dependent on a substance or activity such as drinking, drugs, gambling and shopping. Addicts can’t stop using despite serious consequences and often will continue to use even when they want to stop. If you’re wondering how to help an addict who doesn’t want help, it’s difficult to know what to do because you’re afraid of losing them if you try to intervene. If you suspect your loved one is an addict, seek help yourself first before taking action.
Those who are considered to be addicted to drugs or alcohol are heavily impacted by these substances, affecting the way they think, feel, and act. No matter what you or your loved one’s substance of choice is, prolonged substance abuse can lead to a dangerous addiction where people continue using drugs or alcohol to avoid uncomfortable signs and symptoms of withdrawal.
While most people don’t plan on becoming addicts, there are countless reasons why someone would try a substance or behavior. For example, some people are driven by curiosity and peer pressure, while others seek a way to relieve stress. Furthermore, children who grow up in environments where addiction is present have a greater risk of developing a substance use disorder in the future. Other factors that might street a person toward addiction include:
- Genetics: Studies show that genetics accounts for 40 percent to 60 percent of a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction
- Mental health disorders: People with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others, are more likely to develop a substance use disorder than the general population
If you are concerned that a loved one may be struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, watch out for these red flags:
- Ignoring commitments or responsibilities
- Problems at work, school, or home
- Unexplained absences
- Appearing to have a new set of friends
- Considerable monetary fluctuations
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Lapses in concentration or memory
- Being oddly secretive about personal life
- Withdrawal from normal social events
- Sudden mood swings and changes in behavior
- Unusual lack of motivation
- Weight loss or changes in physical appearance
Millions of Americans struggle with some addiction, whether it’s to drugs, alcohol, or something else. In fact, over 20 million Americans age 12 and older have a substance use disorder. According to the Addiction Center, the most common addictions are to nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin.
3 Reasons Some Addicts Don’t Want Help
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 96% of people who are actively addicted to substances and aren’t actively seeking help believe they don’t need treatment for their addiction. The remaining 4 percent either felt they needed help but didn’t receive it. In other words, approximately 19.4 million people with an addiction don’t believe they need help for it, despite any fallout, wreckage, loss, heartache, or other consequences that may occur. The three most common reasons addicts don’t want help are either in denial, experiencing shame, or fear.
- One of the reasons addicts don’t get help for their addiction is that they are in a state of denial. They don’t want to admit that they have an issue or that it has affected their life in any way. An addict doesn’t have to be profusely damaging themselves or others but denying there is an issue can be detrimental to their health and well-being. Denial is a way of dealing with distressing circumstances, including addiction. Denial can help you get through tough situations, allowing you to cope by pretending that they don’t exist. Denial usually gives way to acceptance over time, but some people unhealthily use denial too often or so well that it blocks them from obtaining treatment; this is most common in addicts who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- Addicts who don’t receive help for their addiction may do so because of shame or embarrassment. Some people do not want others to know that they are suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, and many would avoid admitting to having such a problem. It’s often hard for families and friends to help someone who doesn’t want help, so they may not know what they can do. Addicts don’t always seek help for their addiction because of shame. They may believe that others will judge them harshly for their behavior and may not want to risk the consequences of having it found out.
- Some addicts don’t receive help for their addiction because of fear, shame, and other reasons. They may feel as if they are responsible for the addiction and assume that asking for help will be a failure. They may worry about what their family or friends will say about their situation and assume that others won’t understand what they’re going through. Or they may assume that the cost of treatment is too high compared with the benefit. Addicts who don’t seek treatment for fear of arrest, shame, or lack of support are more common than you might think. But the majority of people with addictions do want help.
6 Ways to Help an Addict Who Doesn’t Want Help
It can be tough to figure out how to help an addict who doesn’t want help, especially when they deny there’s a problem or refuse to seek help. Here are six ways how to help an addict who doesn’t want help:
- Educate yourself about addiction: Before you approach your loved one about their addiction, take time to understand addiction and substance use disorder as a whole. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to approach the situation calmly and confidently. If you’re a parent trying to help a child with an addiction, take these steps to stop substance abuse.
- Offer your support: When you’re ready, sit down with your loved one and offer your unwavering support. Try to avoid sounding condescending or judgemental.
- Follow through on consequences: Many friends and family members of addicts threaten serious consequences. However, these are often seen as idle threats to get your loved one into addiction treatment. To make a real impact, follow through on the consequences.
- Stop enabling the addiction: There’s a fine line between helping and enabling. If you’re financially supporting a loved one who struggles with an addiction or you’re lying to help them hide the problem, then you’re not helping; you’re enabling. Refusing to continue enabling will make it harder for your loved one to keep feeding their addiction.
- Consider an intervention: If you cannot convince your loved one to seek help on their own, consider consulting a professional intervention counselor before things get worse.
- Seek help for yourself: The recovery process can be hard on you and the person with an addiction. Whether you convince them to seek treatment or not, you must take care of yourself and your own mental health. Consider one-on-one counseling or attending a support group such as Narcotics Anonymous or Al-Anon.
See how parents can prevent drug abuse here:
WhiteSands Can Help Addicts Achieve Recovery and a Brighter Future
Whitesands Alcohol and Drug Rehab is an addiction treatment center that offers everything from detox to inpatient and outpatient treatment. We understand that healing an addict who does not want help can be a battle, which is why we have access to a full range of programs designed to meet their needs.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.