Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem throughout the UK and is a particular issue in Scotland.

The latest figures released by National Records of Scotland show that the country had by far the highest level of drug-related deaths in Europe at more than three and a half times that of England and Wales and the death rates are only the tip of the iceberg.

Many more people suffer the negative consequences of substance misuse and addiction. It can take a toll on your physical and mental health, impact your work and pretty much every other aspect of your life.

It is not only the person with the problem that alcohol and drug addiction affects. The behaviour associated with addiction can destroy relationships, families and friendships and it can be very difficult to stand by and watch loved ones damage themselves in this way.

It may feel like there is nothing you can do but there are people you can turn to for advice, as well as steps you can take to help someone with an addiction.


Signs that someone is suffering from an Addiction

Two negative traits often associated with addiction are secrecy and denial. People who realise they have a problem will often take pains to hide the extent of their drinking or drug use from those around them – although not always successfully. Others might be in self-denial about the extent of their problem, or even the fact that they have one in the first place.

Here are some signs to look out for that someone you know might be struggling with an addiction:

  • Witnessing them drinking excessively/using drugs
  • Finding evidence of usage they’ve tried to hide – such as drug paraphernalia or empty bottles placed at the bottom of the bin
  • Becoming secretive and withdrawn
  • Mood swings/aggressive or uncharacteristic behaviour
  • A new circle of friends who drink or take drugs
  • Trying and failing to quit or cut down
  • Continuing to use despite knowing there may be negative consequences
  • Avoiding situations where they cannot drink or take drugs
  • Losing interest in other activities
  • Constant low-level illnesses
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Neglecting health, hygiene and appearance
  • Failing to meet commitments in work, family life and other areas
  • Exacerbation of existing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression

This is not an exhaustive list and the signs can vary from one person to the next, but one or more of the above could be red lights that the person you know is struggling with substance abuse issues and/or addiction.


How to help someone with an Addiction

It can be difficult to know how to broach the subject or talk to a loved one, friend or colleague about a drug or alcohol addiction. You should try to remain as calm and supportive as possible and give them the space they need to open up. This may mean waiting until they are ready to talk and not trying to shame them or making them feel guilty.

At the same time, there is a fine line to be drawn to ensure that you are not enabling their drinking or drug use. Taking over their tasks or responsibilities, providing money for their habit of turning a blind eye to their consumption may feel like it is helping them in the short term but in the long run, it may simply be shielding them from the consequences of their actions and ultimately making the problem worse.

It’s also important that you take care of yourself as it can be physically and mentally draining living with or around a person with an addiction. You will be in no fit state to help them if you do not look after yourself first.


Getting Professional Help for Addiction

In the end, there is often only so much that even a loving and knowledgeable support network can do. Addiction is incredibly difficult to fight without expert help and in many cases, the professional setting of a drug or alcohol rehab may be required.

These facilities offer a safe and tranquil space where the person can really concentrate on getting well, but they are not the only option. Your GP may be able to help, specialist counselling may be useful and many charities and other organisations will be able to offer advice – both to the person with the addiction and the people around them.

At Nova Recovery we offer family referrals alongside self, friend and professional referrals as part of our admissions process. We know that people in the grip of addiction are often reluctant to seek help but you can get the ball rolling by getting in touch today.


Staging an Addiction Intervention

Precisely because addicts are often reluctant to seek help or admit the extent of their problems, a family intervention could be valuable in some cases.

This gives the person’s loved ones the chance to set out the impact that their addiction and associated behaviours are having but should always be carried out in a calm and non-judgmental way as possible. It is easy for these things to swing out of control but we can provide guidance and intervention specialists to guide the process in a neutral setting.

The person with the addiction must ultimately agree to rehabilitation or another treatment model and must fully participate in any treatment programme in order to gain the full benefits. They may need guiding towards this decision, however, and family intervention can be a good way to do this.


Types of Addiction Treatment Available

Admitting that you need help is a huge step forward but there is still a decision to be made about the addiction treatment options that are available. Outpatient programmes like those provided by the NHS can be useful but inpatient alcohol or drug rehab has been shown to be the most effective way of treating serious addictions.

Here you can go through a medically supervised detoxification combined with a range of therapies and other treatments aimed at relapse prevention after you leave. A good aftercare plan can also be very valuable in this regard.

If someone you know is suffering from addiction, get in contact today in complete confidence to find out how we can help.




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