Approaching a loved one about their addictions and substance abuse issues is an incredibly tough thing to do. However, taking the brave step of making a substance abuse intervention can be vital in changing someone’s life. Helping to set them on the right path to a healthier and happier future is paramount. The best approach is working with a licensed counselor prior to the intervention. What’s more, working with a counselor during the actual intervention and post-intervention with the afflicted individual will prove to offer a more successful outcome.
One of the biggest challenges that people face in approaching an addict is that they are very likely to deny that they have a problem in the first place. You may find that you are met with hostility or even a degree of anger, as it is very difficult for a substance abuse intervention to not come across as accusatory. As much as addressing a loved one as an “addict” is difficult to conceive, being called one is even more difficult to accept.
Given this reality, it is rare to be able to just come out and ask someone if they have a problem with alcohol or drugs and get a straight answer. Much more likely is that you will have to do some detective work in order to find out if someone you love needs an intervention and work with a licensed counselor, pre-intervention.
The big question most people will ask our staff is, “When do you know if it’s time for an intervention for alcohol or substance abuse?”
7 Tell-Tale Signs there is a Substance Abuse Problem
1. Deceptive Behavior
They will attempt to hide their behavior. They may do this by hiding bottles of alcohol, or showing up to social occasions already intoxicated. So, they may not actually appear to drink too much in public, or hiding their medications in unmarked bottles so you can’t identify them as addictive substances.
During a substance abuse intervention, you can address the deception and move the addict towards seeking substance abuse treatment.
One of the biggest signs that someone needs to see a counselor and have an intervention is if their tolerance is increasing.
If the person you’re worried about needs a lot more alcohol or substance to get the effect they are seeking, they may be addicted. When a body receives something a lot like alcohol, it develops a tolerance and the body requires more to get the feeling that the person is after.
3. Memory Fog
When someone doesn’t remember what they did or said when under the influence, they’re usually abusing substances.
This is called blacking out and during these periods of time, the person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction will not recall anything they do. This is a red flag and a licensed therapist should be called if this happens more than once or twice.
When you’re planning an intervention for abuse, these situations and memories can bring to light the struggle the addict is facing and doesn’t remember.
Is the person you’re worried about spending all their money on substances whether they be alcohol, drugs, or even prescription drugs? Does their money seem to disappear every week?
Addicts are good at manipulating others to feed their addiction, but in the end, the financial troubles will be noticeable.
Addicts may increasingly ask to borrow money from their family or friends, and offer varying reasons for their request. Increased levels of debt and unpaid bills can be a sign that they are spending more than they should on their habit.
Our counselor team suggests that if you’ve been enabling someone with their addiction and providing them with money or drinks, let them know that is ending. Tell them that if they’re looking for money, the only money you will put towards them is money for an abuse intervention or counseling.
Do they exhibit irrational behavior and mood swings? Are they deceptive and increasingly involved in risky behavior?
People with any substance problem often switch from being angry, depressed, manically happy, miserable, hostile and the list continues. You will never know what type of person they will be when you next see them.
We often see that people struggling with alcohol or drugs end up isolating themselves and prefer to be at home alone. One reason they do this is that they may be aware they’re addicted and don’t want others to see them intoxicated. Another reason they want to be alone is so that others can’t tell them to stop drinking.
An Intervention for abuse may be the first time in awhile that the addict is in the room with their loved ones at the same time. It may be their first-time ever with a counselor. Knowing that they aren’t alone and people are willing to help them break through this addiction is an important step in the abuse intervention process.
7. Mental Health Problems
Some issues that perhaps were once mild and infrequent begin to get much worse. It is normal to feel a little down sometimes, but as the addiction progresses, mental health issues often get magnified and are easier to pick up on.
Dependency on their vices often takes a toll on a person’s self-esteem, causing depression and social anxiety.
Don’t Wait, Take Action
If your loved one is displaying any of these signs in addition to others, then it could be time for you to take action and seek out the right setting for an intervention with a licensed counselor. Of course, it is always a good idea to talk to family members and other friends, in order to gather further information and share each other’s views. You’ll definitely have a clearer indication about whether to intervene if you all share the same concerns. There is no need for you to confront the person alone – whether they are your friend, parent, partner, or child.
Interventions are often thought of as last resorts, and it may be a challenge to present them in a way that is confrontational or accusatory. However, a degree of hostility is often to be expected. Nobody enjoys having someone point out their failings or shortcomings, and this is especially true of an addict who may be in denial about their situation.
Despite the difficulties in approaching this delicate subject, making the simple suggestion of seeking professional help may be the light in the dark that your loved one needs. You really never know how they may react until you try.
For more information about working with our licensed counseling staff at Foundations Counseling related to substance abuse, therapies, and interventions, please contact us as soon as possible.