Where can family members go for information on treatment options?

Freeing someone you love from alcohol and other drugs, and trying to locate appropriate treatment, especially finding a program suitable and changeable to an individual’s particular needs, can be a difficult process. Our ability to cope with anything is a function of how much we know about what we are up against. Although you have been living with alcohol and/or drug problems for some time, learning about alcohol and drug addiction is a critical first step. You cannot rely on common sense or popular myths (preaching, complaining, acting like a martyr, dumping the alcohol or drugs). Getting the facts about how alcohol and drugs affect the individual and the family is very important.

How do we get more substance abusing people into treatment?

It has been known for many years that the “treatment gap” is very large—that is, among those who need treatment for a substance use disorder, few receive it. Around 4.1 million drug users in Pakistan are thought to be addicted to drugs. 64 percent of people using a drug or misusing a drug in 2012 qualify as addicted and require special treatment for it. Yet, less than 10 percent of affected families seek addiction treatment.

Reducing this gap requires a multipronged approach. Strategies include increasing access to effective treatment, reducing stigma, and raising awareness among both patients and health care professionals of the value of addiction treatment.

How can I get my loved one to commit to treatment?

As much as we would like to help our loved ones and alleviate our own suffering, we cannot force them into treatment except under certain legal circumstances.

Why does my loved one make such bad decisions?

For family members, addiction is often a confusing illness. Addiction is a disease of the brain that greatly impairs decision-making. Self-destruction, dishonesty and irrational behavior are all symptoms of the disease. Often times, those with the disease keep making bad choices, even when they’re losing everything. This is because the illness basically changes brain function, driving a compulsion to use drugs or alcohol. People acting this way are not bad, but very ill and need help.

Why do drug-addicted persons keep using drugs?

Nearly all addicted individuals believe at the start that they can stop using drugs on their own by their willpower only, and most try to stop without treatment. Although some people are successful, many such willpower attempts result in failure to achieve long term abstinence. Research has shown that long-term drug addiction results in changes in the brain that continues long after a person stops using drugs. These drug-induced changes in brain function can have many behavioral consequences, including an inability to maintain control over the impulse to use drugs despite troubling and harmful consequences—the crucial feature of addiction.

Psychological stress from work, family problems, psychiatric illness, pain associated with medical problems, social triggers (such as meeting individuals from one’s drug-using past i.e. slippery people), or environmental triggers (such as encountering streets, objects, or even smells associated with drug abuse i.e. slippery places) can trigger intense cravings without the individual even being consciously aware of the triggering event. Family and friends may also be enabling and provoking an individual towards drugs and alcohol without being consciously aware of it. Anyone of these factors can get in the way of continued abstinence and make relapse more likely. Nevertheless, research shows that active involvement and compliance in treatment is a vital component for good outcomes and can benefit even the most severely addicted individuals.

How do other mental disorders coexisting with drug addiction affect drug addiction treatment?

Drug addiction is a disease of the brain that frequently occurs with other mental disorders. In fact, as many as 6 in 10 people with an illegal drug use disorder also suffer from another mental illness; and rates are similar for users of legal drugs—i.e., tobacco and alcohol. For these individuals, one condition becomes more difficult to treat successfully as an additional condition is also associated. Thus, patients entering treatment either for addiction or for another mental disorder should be assessed for the co-occurrence of the other condition. Research shows that treating both (or multiple) illnesses together in a structured fashion is generally the best treatment approach for these patients.

My loved one seems so slow and “tired.” How long is his detox going to take?

First off, I want to commend you for calling with your concerns, and to assure you that the willing ways team is providing your loved one with the best possible care. I can have the detox specialist working with your loved one call you and give you an update on the status of his or her care, and the specialist can answer any other questions you might have about the detoxification process.

How do I help someone in denial?

Addicts will often to great lengths to hide their problem. Whilst you may have tried to challenge their behavior, and received an angry or defensive reaction in return, their denial and dishonesty serve to fuel their addiction further. This is when professional help can make a crucial impact. We can provide a structured intervention programme that could make a huge difference to you and your family. Please speak to us today for support and guidance.

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