Patients & Families

From the Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse to Addiction Treatment:
A Tool Kit for Families

drug and alcohol abuse familyAddiction treatment of a loved one or close friend can be difficult on families.  The emotional challenges faced by those surrounding the patient can be difficult to overcome.  We’ve put together a tool kit for families dealing with substance abuse that includes the signs of drug and alcohol abuse, and information on addiction treatment.  Addiction treatment can be difficult, but remember whether you are a patient or the loved one of someone suffering from addiction, you are not alone.

Whether you’re a parent, spouse or child of a person suffering from addiction, it is helpful to understand signs of drug and alcohol abuse so you can help your loved on the path to rehab and recovery.

Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

  • Unexplained changes in behavior or appearance
  • A change of habits, friends or activities
  • Loss of appetite, unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia, unusual sleep patterns
  • Needle marks
  • Nausea,  vomiting or excessive sweating
  • Drug paraphanelia or the smell of drugs on the breath or clothing
  • Secretive behavior or uncharacteristic dishonesty
  • Lack of motivation, sensitivity to others or unexplained changes in self-esteem

Addiction Treatment 101

Addiction treatment is complex and highly individualized.  Drug and alcohol abuse affects the brain, leaving each person affected differently.   Addiction is a chronic disease; therefore treatment is not a simple process of 1-2-3. That doesn’t mean effective treatments aren’t available, just that the most effective treatment programs include a variety of modules.  Patients and families should remain vigilant about identifying the signs of drug and alcohol abuse to prevent relapse. Do not expect to go into addiction treatment and leave sober after a few days – the path to recovery is ongoing and may require repeat treatment programs for long-term recovery.

Family support is often critical to a patient’s long-term recovery.  Addiction treatment that includes family therapy may prove to be a key element in a treatment plan, especially if the patient is a parent, grandparent or teen child.  Educate yourself on addiction treatment before you go into treatment so you know what to expect.

Addiction treatment facts for families and patients:

  • Typically, the substance abuser cannot be forced into an addiction treatment program unless there are legal circumstances where a person is court-ordered to attend treatment.
  • Family intervention, which includes professionally planned counseling, can help a person choose to go into treatment. Know the signs of drug and alcohol abuse. Identify them early.
  • Adequate time is essential, helping a person leave treatment early, even if they appear sober and clean will ultimately set them back on the path to recovery.
  • Medical detox is just the first step to recovery – it is important to continue treatment.
  • Individualized addiction treatment plans should be developed, assessed and modified on an ongoing basis to address a patient’s needs as they move through the process.
  • Be patient. Addiction is a complicated and chronic disease – do not feel ashamed or set-back by the ongoing need for treatment or recovery support.
  • Because addiction affects the brain, successful treatments vary between individuals, and there is no ONE treatment method for long-term recovery.
  • Know drug and alcohol abuse facts. Family education and therapy are important for helping the family overcome addiction, and family can seek help whether or not your loved one seeks treatment.

Signs of drug and alcohol abuse are not necessarily indicators that a loved one has a substance abuse problem.  Use these signs as an indicator that you need to have a substance abuse discussion or screening. Addiction treatment often includes continued after care or relapse prevention programs.  You should find a treatment center that is right for your unique condition and situation- do not simply go through the yellow pages. You can read more about treatment options and how to find an effective treatment program on our addiction treatment page.