Sharing our experiences as a professional interventionist can be a valuable resource for those struggling with familial addiction issues. We have touched thousands of individuals in our work with families as a professional drug intervention and alcohol intervention specialist.

Drug addiction for a family member usually starts with experimenting with drugs and then leads to ongoing drug abuse. The abuse of addictive substances interferes with short-term brain chemistry and overall functioning and also has various long-term effects on the brain of the abuser. Continuing drug abuse by at-risk individuals will lead to chemical or physical changes occurring in the brain that transforms drug abuse into drug addiction and chemical dependency.

Much research has been done by professionals into the science of addiction, proving that addiction is in fact a brain disorder. It is just as life-threatening to the individual as other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, or emphysema, and often is more life-impacting dangerous to one's health than other typical conditions.

Like other long-term conditions, a family member struggling with addiction can have both relapse and recovery periods, with the social symptoms and consequences of drug addiction affecting everyone around them - their family, close friends, or associates and coworkers.

Understand the following: As a close family member, you may be in the best position to help the addict accept and admit that they need to seek professional treatment. Most recovering addicts report that they sought out help because a close family member or friend was honest and direct with them about their substance abuse and addiction.

How to Spot Drug Dependencies in Family Members

Drug abuse in a family member manifests as physical and psychological symptoms. When a family member is struggling with dependency on a drug, you may observe some or all of the following physical symptoms:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Needs more drugs for the same effect
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug

When a family member has developed an emotional craving for a drug or dependence a drug, you may notice psychological symptoms.

  • Seeing drugs as the solution, not the problem
  • Taking the drug in larger amounts or over a longer time
  • Being preoccupied with getting drugs
  • Stealing or sell their things to buy drugs
  • Feeling anxious, grouchy, depressed
  • Withdrawing from contact with friends and family
  • Losing interest in school, work, or hobbies
  • Socializing with others who abuse drugs
  • Having mood swings
  • Having problems at work and at home
  • Has trouble with relationships
  • Taking part in dangerous behavior such as driving while under the influence

How to Discuss Drug Abuse Directly

If your family member is showing clear signs of abusing alcohol or other dangerous drugs, it can be hard to know what to do or say. You are well-justified in being worried about bringing up your concerns and facing anger, defensiveness, resentment or flat-out denial that they have a problem. In fact, these are all common reactions by people you are close to when you confront them about things like drug or alcohol abuse.

This difficulty in communication and potential negativity is not a reason to avoid saying anything. In the majority of cases, the family member's abuse of drugs is going to continue to progress in a negative fashion and will not get better on its own. Here's some tips on what to do.

  • Approach your family member when they are not under the influence of drugs
  • Express your concerns in a caring way
  • Encourage your loved one to open up
  • Consider staging an intervention or family meeting

The choice to change their addictive behavior must come from them. While being open and honest about your concerns will help in your communication with the addict, please remember that you will not succeed in forcing a family member to stop using and abusing drugs.

There are effective things you can do to help them to address their problems. This includes calling a professional interventionist, a general helpline, talking to a doctor or counselor, entering treatment, or going to group meetings for support.

You should also consider consulting with a professional interventionist or certified interventionist before you approach the family member. If you have questions about staging an intervention for a family member, call 615.482.1831.

Author's Bio: 

T.J. Pass is a Certified Master Recovery Coach and Professional Interventionist directing a team of professionals at the Eagle's Bridge Intervention Team.

T. J.’s path of recovery from the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction began with an intervention in January of 2006. As a product of an intervention he offers a true understanding of experience. With less than one year of sobriety, he established Eagle’s Bridge.

Over the last 8 years he has grown Eagle’s Bridge to a full-time professional intervention service. He has held positions with The 23rd Judicial Drug Court, directed homeless shelters and obtained certifications as a family interventionist, master recovery coach and sober companion.

T.J.’s specialty is working with families and employers to create a plan of action to begin the recovery process. Recently he consulted for various behavioral health organizations by training staff on how to handle the initial call from chemically dependent people and their loved ones. He has also created drug and alcohol programs for those transitioning from inpatient treatment.

Over the past eight years T.J. has conducted over 150 interventions as a subcontractor for various organizations and families. He has a 98% success rate. The team's commitment does not end after treatment is accepted. The EB Intervention Team continues to offer support as long as the families they serve need suggestions.