How to recognize addiction in a loved one and approach them

Better Health & Wellness

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Understanding addiction can be a challenge, but healthcare professionals will tell you that we all probably know someone struggling with substance abuse.

Dr. Ashley Haynes, an addiction specialist in Wichita, says part of helping people with addictions is just understanding what addictions are like and what you can do.

“It can be very hard to understand why people don’t just quit,” she said. “Obviously, if it were as easy as simply mind over matter in quitting, we wouldn’t have issues with substance use disorder.”

On her computer, Haynes does her best to spread the word to family, friends and others to help where they can. Help for the person suffering from addiction starts with recognizing there is a problem.

“Sometimes the person who is struggling with addiction doesn’t always recognize it themselves, but friends or family point it out, and that might be the subtle nagging,” Haynes said.

She says pointing it out can sometimes be a bold, first step, then comes understanding.

“The person still has to be willing to get help,” Haynes said. “We don’t do any sort of like involuntary treatment. It’s not going to really work that way. But, if, sometimes it does take a family member pointing things out to help the person.”

Not-so-subtle signs – like loss of a job or having to be hospitalized for an overdose – can be the push that leads to treatment.

But family and friends need to recognize the little things – needing a ride because of a lost car, needing money all the time, or just massive swings in behavior. Those are all signs that it is time to do something.

When you approach the person, whether it is the first, second, or tenth time, be upfront and honest.

“An approach that is non-judgmental is very important and coming from a place of honesty and trust,” Haynes advises. “As soon as someone perceives that they can’t trust you or that you are judging them, then what you say is going to kind of fall by the wayside.”

Haynes says addiction is a disease, and recovery will take every day once it starts. It can be a lifelong struggle in many cases. But she says the first step must happen, or the consequences can be unbearable.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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