Is it safe to send a teen back to school with his or her dealer? No! Recovering from addiction almost always requires a change in how we deal with people, places, and things. That’s why the McShin Foundation partnered with St. Joseph’s Villa to open the McShin Academy, Virginia’s first recovery high school. Continue reading “Is Recovery High School Right For An Addicted Teen?”
Something’s not right, but you can’t pin point what’s wrong. Your feelings run from disbelief, fear and betrayal to anger, concern and back again. Addiction doesn’t go away on it’s own. Here are 12 warning signs that need immediate attention.
In an intimate and caring relationship, accepting your loved one is a substance abuser is the hardest thing in the world. Someone you love is caught up in something dangerous and beyond your control. What you do and how you handle it is important. Taking care of yourself and being able to understand and accept the situation improves your quality of life. Accordingly, your example might lead your loved one to change.
First Be Observant
Do some detective work. Watch what’s going on, and make notes about how your loved one is acting toward you and everything else. Learn about addiction and the changes that occur in personality and behavior.
Know The 12 Warning Signs
Not all of these will apply to your loved one, but these are the most common warning signs of substance and alcohol abuse and addiction:
- Mood swings
- Anger, impatience, irritable behavior, especially when confronted
- Sudden appearance of new friends
- Secrecy about activities and whereabouts
- You found items that you suspect might be drug paraphernalia
- Pupils are often either enlarged or constricted. Methamphetamine and cocaine enlarge the pupil while heroin and other opiates will constrict the pupils.
- Smells different. Alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can change body odor.
- Loss of appetite
- Money and other items are disappearing.
- Neglecting things that used to be important—family, church, relationships, activities
- Neglecting personal hygiene and personal appearance
- Sudden secret phone calls and texting
Educate Yourself About Substances
Learn about the different classes and types of drugs. Most drugs have fairly precise symptoms if you know what to look for. Treating marijuana is a little different than treating heroin. Some medications can help with alcohol and opiate addictions. Researching is scary, but not knowing is dangerous.
Yes, trying drugs or alcohol for the first time is a choice, but becoming addicted is not.
Addiction is now medically described as an chronic relapsing brain disease. Don’t try to change anyone on your own, it won’t work. Seek professional help from a therapist, addiction professional, or a doctor. Recovery Guidance lists help for families and those who are addicted. Click here to search for family resources.
Want help, but not sure where to start? Take our our self-assessment guide.
It’s crucial to be safe when your loved one has a substance use disorder. Protect your finances and possessions so that you don’t have serious problems down the road.
Families With Drug Abusers Always Have Financial Difficulties
Drug abusers (and some people with behavior addictions) need money all the time to support their drug of choice. They use their families to get it by:
- Going from one family member to another asking for money
- Taking money from wallets and purses that are left unattended
- Stealing valuables from their relatives’ home to sell
- Scaring family members into providing money for them
- Coercing or blackmailing family members who fear homelessness or worse behaviors if they don’t give money
The families that protect themselves against financial wreckage due to a substance abuser are the families that fare the best. Here are some tips to follow.
Protect Valuables In The Home
Know what and where your possessions are and monitor them. What to do:
- Make a list of your assets and valuables
- Know where everything is
- Make sure your valuables all have your name on it
- Engrave your name on jewelry when you can
- Lock valuables away whenever possible
- Alert everyone in the family that possessions are watched and monitored
Guard Your Wallet
Does the abuser have access to your wallet, cash, credit and debit cards? Does cash mysteriously disappear? Cash charged on a credit card costs more, and the credit card holder may be held responsible for the charges. Have you seen charges you don’t recognize on your cards? What to do:
- Make sure your wallet or purse is always in a safe place not accessible to abuser
- Keep your cash hidden
- Keep your credit cards locked up
- Check you balances frequently
Protect Bank Accounts And Investments
Who is in charge of the family money? Abuse occurs when the abuser is in charge of finances. Be aware of your family finances. What kind of bank and investment accounts do you have and where are they? You should have access to bank accounts and safety deposit accounts as well as investment accounts. What to do:
- Be sure to have access to all bank accounts
- Watch the balance to see if cash is going out
- Start keeping some money separate for emergencies
- Change passwords often for online banking accounts that you own
- Check your safety deposit box if you keep valuables there
- If you have an investment advisor alert him/her to potential problems
Grandma And Grandpa’s Finances
Abusers will go from family member to family member with sad stories and sometimes threats. The most vulnerable may well be grandma and grandpa. Is the abuser stealing from the grandparents or getting them to hand over social security checks? What to do:
- Take an inventory of grandparents’ valuables in the home
- Monitor what drugs they taking and make sure they are not kept in the open
- Ask about investment accounts, bank accounts, debit cards, and other potential sources of cash
- Keep in touch with them and other vulnerable family members
- Pay special attention to jewelry, guns and other weapons, and tools
Check with your lawyer about your rights and liabilities as a spouse or parent.
Want help, but not sure where to start? Click here to try our self-assessment guide.
Searching for effective addiction treatment can be overwhelming. There’s many, many options, and each option offers many, many choices. Since almost all of them promise a full recovery, it’s hard to know which service you need or where to even begin. Here’s ten simple facts to put your mind at ease before you start searching.
1. Addiction Can Happen To Anyone
And anyone can be addicted to any number of substances such as:
- Stimulants (amphetamine, Ritalin, methamphetamine)
- Sedatives (tranquilizers, sleep medications, anti-anxiety medications)
- Opioids (heroin, fentanyl, carfentanyl, and prescribed pain relievers, such as oxycontin, vicodin and lortab)
You can become addicted if you just drink beer. You can become addicted if you just use marijuana. Because some of these substances are more powerful or potent than others, addiction can be faster with them. All of the above substances can produce an addiction.
2. Virtually All Addiction Begins During Adolescence – Over 90%
Many wise, older people think young kids get addicted because because adolescence is a period of experimentation and rebellion. On the contrary, addiction so often begins in adolescence because drugs affect the brain. Developing adolescent brains are more vulnerable.
The adolescent brain (12 – 25) is more susceptible to drug effects than the adult brain.
3. Addiction Is Not Related To Intelligence Or Social Standing
Many intelligent individuals from “good families” become addicted.
4. Addiction Is Partially Hereditary
Like most other chronic illnesses, addiction is more likely among those who have an addicted family member. Addiction is also more likely among those with a psychiatric illness like depression, anxiety, or thought disorder. This is why smoking marijuana every week may be harmless to some individuals, but it’s seriously addicting to others.
5. Addiction Is A Chronic Illnesses That Affects the Brain
Addiction is a chronic illness or disease. This disease affects the motivational, stress and inhibitory circuits of the brain. As a result, the new brain functions sometimes lead to disturbing behaviors like:
- Inability to fulfill promises
- Mood changes
Addiction does NOT happen all at once, and sometimes it takes years of substance misuse to produce these brain changes. These changes last for many months, even after the substance use stops. Some people may never return to their “normal” pre-addictive functioning.
6. Most People Who Become Addicted Ultimately Recover
People who struggle with addiction are not a lost cause. Recovery rates for most addictions are similar to the recovery rates for other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Recovery really means three things:
- Eliminating or significantly reducing all substance use. Uncontrolled substance use is the cardinal symptom of addiction.
- Improving overall health and function. Stopping substance use will be hollow unless it is accompanied by improved quality of life.
- Learning to recognize and self-manage threats to relapse. Returning to normal life involves cravings and relapse threats, but these can be managed.
Over 4 million formerly addicted individuals are now in stable recovery. Many people recover without treatment, but good treatment accelerates the process.
7. An Addicted Person Doesn’t Have To “Hit Bottom”
Some people say, “there is nothing you can do until a person is ready to stop,” but this simply isn’t true. Families and society in general can help people find recovery in two ways:
- By applying constructive but steady pressure
- By assisting in the treatment process
Many people seek recovery because someone gave them an ultimatum. Yet others get into recovery after trying many options. To be successful, people need continuing support from a boss, spouse, or family member.
8. There Are No Short-term Treatments
Have you heard about ultra-rapid detoxes, one-week detoxes and 30-day programs? All of these can be helpful, but they are just the beginning phase of treatment. None are effective by themselves. Like all other chronic illnesses, recovery is more likely with continuing care and monitoring.
9. Medications Can Help Gain And Maintain Recovery
The FDA has approved medications help people recovery from cigarette, opioid and alcohol addictions. At this point, not all treatment providers offer these medications. These medications aren’t appropriate for all cases, but many people find medications to be an important piece of their treatment plan.
10. Family Participation Improves Their Recovery
What can you do to help?
- Support your loved ones. Your constructive support and encouragement is invaluable.
- Learn about their treatment and respect their choices.
- Be willing to un-learn some destructive attitudes and behaviors. (All families have them.)
- Share responsibilities for developing new, constructive attitudes and behaviors.
Good treatment involves the whole family. Now that you are armed with the truth about addiction and treatment, click here to take our our self-assessment guide.