Resources for Educating Loved Ones on Supporting People With Addiction: Organizations
If you have a loved one or colleague who has addictive behaviors or is abusing alcohol or other drugs, you are probably struggling with how to address their addiction. Like many others who have walked this road, you don’t know how to help the person seek treatment, or how to communicate your concerns without angering or alienating them.
Family therapy can be a good first step if you are looking for third-party guidance on how to help your loved one. Sometimes a therapist can have more success in guiding a family member into addiction treatment, especially when the family’s previous efforts have failed.
Assistance from family and friends sometimes backfires, especially if it is the kind of help that allows the addict to continue their addiction without facing any consequences. The wrong kind of help actually enables the addict, leading to their continued addiction rather than to treatment and recovery. (Hint: You aren’t helping by making excuses for them, covering their expenses, paying their debts or otherwise bailing them out of trouble.)
It doesn’t feel right to do nothing, but what can you do without creating more problems? Find out what organizations support addiction treatment and follow their guidance for taking proactive and appropriate steps to get your loved one the kind of help they need. There are several organizations with expertise in addiction and they can guide you down the right path.
Organizations That Support Addiction Treatment
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA works closely with other health agencies to fulfill its mission of reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities and families. If you are seeking addiction treatment for a friend or family member, SAMHSA is a good place to start because it connects you to help from myriad sources.
In addition to offering a general help resources page, SAMHSA offers a treatment services locator that helps you find addiction treatment centers in your area, provides free mobile apps that connect you or your loved one to help centers and confidential online support via chatrooms/texting, as well as several 24-hour toll-free telephone hotlines, including SAMHSA’s National Helpline, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the Disaster Distress Helpline, among others. SAMHSA also offers a video training series that helps parents and families, youth and young adults dealing with addiction. 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; 877-SAMHSA-7 (877-726-4727); 800-487-4889 (TTY)
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an organization within the National Institutes of Health, works to advance addiction science and provide treatment resources and information about clinical trials to families and others in the community. NIDA has answers to frequently asked questions for parents and family members wanting to know what to do if their teen or young adult has addiction and for friends and others wanting to know how to help an adult who has addiction. NIDA’s articles and other publications on the principles of drug addiction treatment give readers an understanding of the process of addiction and how it can impact all who are involved with the addict. Gaining a better understanding of the disease of addiction helps loved ones understand what is needed to treat it and support long-term recovery.
Other resources from NIDA that provide education and treatment information include Drugs and Young People, Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, Dual Diagnosis, Opioid Abuse and Addiction and NIDA for Teens.
There are many self-help peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous that hold community-based meetings in every state, and most cities, across the nation. Some of these organizations even offer online peer-support meetings for people who can’t get to in-person meetings. A good first step is getting your loved one to a local recovery support meeting — you are likely to get additional information and resources about addiction treatment programs in your area from the organizers of the meeting. Further, the support group meeting may provide the motivation your loved one needs to recognize the problem and seek treatment.
The Mayo Clinic and Partnership for a Drug-Free America offer tips on how to stage a face-to-face formal intervention as a method for getting a loved one into addiction treatment. Families sometimes choose formal intervention if their loved one doesn’t want to discuss their addiction, would clearly benefit from professional treatment, but needs additional persuasion to admit they have a problem that requires treatment.
Hiring a professional interventionist or intervention consultant can help families prepare for and stage the intervention. Getting professional assistance can increase the odds of a successful outcome — getting your loved one into treatment as soon as possible, so they can get expert help overcoming their addiction and begin the journey to recovery.
The main thing is to take positive action by finding out what organizations support addiction treatment and using the information they provide to help your loved one. And remember the importance of family in addiction treatment and recovery.
“Families are critical in helping people recover from addiction,” says David Sack, MD, chief medical officer of Elements Behavioral Health. “They are usually the ones who can see that their loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol that’s affecting other areas of their life and that they need to do something about it. What families can do, more than anything, is work to get their loved one into treatment.”
Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy: A Treatment Improvement Protocol, TIP 39. SAMHSA 2016. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-39-Substance-Abuse-Treatment-and-Family-Therapy/SMA15-4219
Family Therapy Can Help: For People in Recovery from Mental Illness or Addiction. SAMHSA 2015.
What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families. SAMHSA 2014.
Alcohol and Drug Addiction Happens in the Best of Families … and It Hurts. It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way. SAMHSA 2012. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Alcohol-and-Drug-Addiction-Happens-in-the-Best-of-Families/SMA12-4159
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). One in five kids lives with a mental health issue, and roughly 50% of people living with a mental health condition also have a problem with substance abuse. This creates a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Participating in treatment for both at the same time can lead to a more sustained recovery. Call the NAMI Helpline: (800) 950-6264
Crisis Intervention and Mistakes Families Make. Jeff VanVonderen. The National Association for Christian Recovery. http://www.nacr.org/families/crisis-intervention-and-mistakes-families-make