Substance use and the effects of the abuse, is very real and personal to me. You see, I grew up with an uncle that had a substance abuse problem. He died at the age of 55. I always felt that speaking up and addressing the issue may have helped him on his several attempts at Rehab, but we never did.
When he was sober, he was the most amazing, well spoken, caring and loving uncle who not only loved to cook, but was multi-lingual. His journey started out with addiction to alcohol and like any other bad habit it graduated to drug use and as we know multiple substances get intertwined and eventually users begin experimenting.
Growing up, I never really understood substance use disorder as my mom tried her best to shield us from the mess. There were occasions when he got so drunk and my mom would get the call to go intervene to get help and like any addict he was in denial of the situation and would make threats to anyone who tried to help. His family was in disarray and sadly his kids didn’t get to know him as he was strung most of the time and they never really got to know their dad.
It’s the phone call you never want to receive, but the news of his passing came. It was a devastating time for my grandmother, mom and entire family. Sad but not shocking the truth is that the trajectory of his habits could only lead to that outcome ~ Addiction stole from my family.
Looking back, I didn’t understand the entire picture and connection, now I do understand that it’s a disease, which must be treated. When you have a loved one with this issue you may feel hopeless, helpless but know that there is hope and many treatment options. Addiction is a complex, but treatable, disease that affects brain function and behavior.
There are multiple approaches for treating each individual with no single treatment being the same. There is no one size fits all treatment.
There are four (4) Tips on how to help a friend or loved one dealing with Substance use disorder:
- Educate yourself on alcohol, drugs and addiction
- Talk to the person and offer your help and support, don’t wait till they “hit rock bottom”
- Seek professional help as they cannot do this on their own.
- Remember it’s a lifelong disease and they need continuous support when relapse occurs.
Till next time,