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Helping an addict

How do you help someone with addiction and depression? Everyone’s circumstance will be different, but knowing what you’re up against will be a great start. The phrase “Knowledge is power” is certainly true in this case. Facing the battle well-armed, you will be of more assistance to that person.

Addiction and depression often go hand in hand. This dual diagnosis makes everything more complicated because one may affect the other. If a depressed person is left untreated, they may find themselves reaching for coping mechanisms and self medicate to help them deal with this issue. Their depression brings the possibility of an addiction of some kind; drug addiction is a common one. When an individual is addicted to drugs, it can affect their mental and emotional stability and cause depression. What they are doing to soothe themselves can escalate their issues and even trigger new ones.

Treatment and recovery from either problem can be rough, but if the person is dealing with a dual diagnosis, it can definitely be an uphill climb. The first step is to have a serious conversation with that person and talk about their issues. The following will help you understand some things that can be involved in an individual’s recovery from drug addiction when the addict also suffers from depression.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment

Appropriate Program

Finding a facility and program tailored to the needs of the individual is one of the many vital factors that will help that person on the road to recovery. If a person is dealing with a dual diagnosis, they need a place that can handle both problems simultaneously, so they do not work against the issues. The facility needs to have specific care for any mental illness the person might be experiencing. A general or incorrect treatment will not be beneficial. If that person, for example, is dealing with schizophrenia, they would need different help than someone who deals with anxiety or depression.

Detoxification

Drug and alcohol detox flushes a person’s system of the drugs they have consumed. People who are addicted to drugs typically have a very high tolerance for those substances. If they are without the drugs that their bodies have become dependent on, they will typically go through withdrawals. Detoxing is serious business and can potentially be deadly. It’s because of this concern that it’s not a good idea for someone to try to detox on their own at home. They will be evaluated mentally and physically, which is an important step. This will include getting blood tests to determine how much of a substance is in their system.

If a person has a severe addiction, then an inpatient detox is recommended not just for their general health but to actually try to keep them alive during the changes. Detoxing this way is monitored 24/7, and they can be prescribed medication to prevent complications and help their comfort level. The most pressing issue is their safety during this time, because many things can happen, including seizures. Their body has been flooded with a foreign matter for some time. The drugs are bad enough, but then it steals away any health they did have by depleting them of their nutrients and proper self-care as well. A plan for a treatment process takes place after detox, and the patients are made aware of what to expect.

Aftercare Programs

Though going through a detox or rehab program is a great first step, it’s only one of many that an individual will face in the coming years they seek to turn their life back around. People can find the time after the treatment to be much more difficult because they have to deal with outside influences, triggers, and a change in the routine that they had. Thankfully some places are available that offer things such as sober-living homes as well as therapy and support groups.

Counseling/Support Groups

For drug addiction, depression, or both, counseling can be of real value in the treatment process. Most of the problems being dealt with likely have underlying emotional and mental stress-related issues that have not been adequately handled. Once the root of these issues is fleshed out, building healthy thought processes and coping mechanisms can be accomplished. It can be more challenging for a person to move forward in treatment successfully if they don’t deal with their demons and do the internal self-work needed. Therapy can be on an individual, group, or family basis, giving not only support and advice but also accountability.

Medication

Sometimes medications are prescribed to help patients in their treatment of depression. These medications can help balance chemicals in their brain that can help improve their mood and other physical issues that were caused by their depression. The medicine can help “reset” their brain to have a healthier response in their everyday life and get themselves back doing the things they enjoyed, which will also boost their mood. People respond differently to medications. Sometimes one type or medication and a short amount of time are all that’s needed to see any results. Other times people have to try several types of medication and require longer timeframes. Everyone is different. It’s important to note that these medications can have severe side effects sometimes, so caution must be exercised.

Patience

Do not be surprised if the one you are trying to help shows resistance. Letting that person set the pace is vital. Pushing and prodding will only cause a poor relationship with them and bad results. They ultimately have to do the work themselves. You can be encouraging, but boundaries are also essential for everyone in this situation. Just remember that even though they need help as soon as possible, time and patience are also required. It’s a process.

Lisa Henderson
Lisa Henderson
Lisa Henderson is a Texas-based artist and writer who embraces her naturally creative personality at every opportunity; she is a dreamer and thinker. Nature and humanity fill her mind with unending inspiration for new projects. Having suffered personal loss from addiction in her own family, it is a subject close to her heart. Lisa urges people not to struggle alone with addiction but to seek help for themselves or their loved ones at the first possible opportunity.