What Is Substance Use Disorder and How Do I Help a Loved One?

What Is Substance Use Disorder and How Do I Help a Loved One?

Long-term substance use creates changes in the body and alters the brain, meaning that it also affects a person’s mental health. Since the brain is responsible for all voluntary and involuntary actions, substance use can change how people think, act, and feel. If you have a loved one currently using substances and dealing with behavioral changes, it is essential to understand that substance use is a disorder and it may not be a conscious choice made by your loved one. As such, it’s important to remember to never take what they say or how they behave while under the influence personally. The best way to help a loved one in need is to first educate yourself on substance use disorders (SUDs), and then you can act appropriately to get them help. Let’s explore some of the complexities of substance use disorders and how you can help a loved one in need.

The Brain and Substances

Substances change the brain’s structure by creating new neural pathways and altering how many receptors the brain is capable of using. When these pathways come under the influence of drugs and alcohol, your loved one can become a person you don’t recognize. Furthermore, long-term substance use not only alters their behavior, but substance use also numbs their emotional range.

Additionally, since substance use connects with mental health and behavioral disorders, your loved one may have short but aggressive episodes of anger or withdrawal and isolate themselves from the rest of the family when they are experiencing these moods. It is also a contributing factor to why your loved one might become stubborn when faced with consequences about the truth of their use.

Treating Addiction

There is no cure for addiction because addiction is a disorder much like other disorders, such as diabetes, that need daily attention and care. However, treatment will help teach your loved ones how to control their substance use by either making or not making decisions that affect their disorder. Today many treatment centers such as Choice House are properly educated in providing appropriate approaches to care. Choice House provides trained professionals that are motivated and sensitive to meet the needs of your loved one.

Reaching out to a treatment facility that advocates for greater awareness and education for those struggling with a substance or mental health disorder can assure you that you are getting the most appropriate options for care. It is essential to ask questions when you decide to reach out for help so you can confirm you’re not getting a one-size-fits-all approach from a healthcare provider. Such questions could include:

  • How qualified is your staff to treat people with mental health and substance use disorders?
  • What are some of the therapies and treatments you use?
  • Does your approach to treatment accommodate the needs of each individual?

Never worry about asking too many questions or the wrong question. The more information you can gather, the better you will feel when deciding on a treatment option.

What Does Intervention Involve? 

Interventions do not need to be a one-time event. Depending on your loved one’s substance use and openness to treatment, interventions can take different forms to avoid making your loved one feel isolated or ambushed. Interventions may start with setting boundaries and sticking to them. For example, your loved one might call upon other friends and family to help them out with money for groceries; but their goal may actually be to attain money to support their addiction. You might believe that you are protecting your loved ones by helping them in this way, but what you are really doing is enabling them to continue using substances by mitigating the consequences of their actions. Setting boundaries will let them know what behaviors you will and will not accept. Additionally, if they ask to stay at your place or elsewhere, you can encourage them to consider outpatient therapy or residence living.

If it comes to planning an intervention, you should call upon other friends and family to help you and support your loved one during the intervention. Sometimes seeing how many people care about them can be enough motivation for them to get help. If you think your loved one might not be comfortable having an intervention around other family and friends, you may want to consider getting a moderator. A moderator is trained to help direct the intervention and keep the communication from becoming confrontational. A moderator can also work in a one-on-one setting or a group setting.

How to Get Through

Remember that it is essential to look at your own behavior when it comes to helping a loved one. Do you enable your loved one or help your loved one? If you do not know the difference, you can seek a professional to help you better understand your behavior and your role in helping a loved one. You might also benefit from getting professional help from a therapist to talk to about your emotions during this challenging time. Living with a person struggling with substance use affects everybody in the home.

While there is no cure for addiction, many effective treatments exist to help those with a substance use disorder (SUD) overcome them and lead successful lives. If you are concerned for your loved one and need help on how to best address the situation, the time to reach out is now. At Choice House, we specialize in treating men dealing with SUD and related mental health issues. Our approaches implement both conventional and alternative therapies that are geared toward helping men rebuild relationships with themselves and others. We also work with families to help them develop better communication and express their needs. We include 24/7 admissions, so there is never a wrong time to reach out. We are happy to handle any questions regarding the needs of you and your loved one. The road to recovery begins when you choose your health and the health needs of your loved ones first. Find out more by calling Choice House today at (720) 577-4422.