In a world filled with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings and interventions, many people may be wondering, what are the best ways to help a drug addict get help?
Understanding the truth about drug use is an important first step. For years, 12 Step programs and other sources have been telling people that they have a disease and that they inherited a gene of addiction from their family. These programs have spent an enormous amount of energy, money, and time trying to convince people that there was no hope for them and that all they could ever be is an addictâ€”recovering or relapsedâ€”but always an addict.
They have used labels, passed judgments, and manipulated their members into believing that the only treatment available is attending meetings for the rest of their life, practicing abstinence and submitting to belief in a higher power. The problem is that if a member is powerless against their drug use and abstinence is the only treatment, then right from the start, they will fail. How is that helping anyone?
The truth is that you are not diseased or damaged. The brain disease model that is used is inaccurate. Your drug use cannot be compared to the same effects that a person with leukemia experiences. You can choose to stop your drug use, but the individual with leukemia cannot choose to stop having leukemia.
For the individual with leukemia or any other true medical disease, their body will suffer physiological changes beyond their ability to control. Your drug use will affect your body as you continue to abuse your drug of choice. You can do permanent damage to your body through continued, long term, and heavy substance use but your "disease" of addiction use can be "cured" by lack of money, access to your drug of choice, or by deciding to change your substance use behavior, unlike any other medical disease.
The truth is that your drug use is a learned behavior and you have the power to learn to control your substance use. For many people standing by watching the drug user self-destruct, the painful reality is that no one can "save" the person using drugs. There is nothing that you can say or do to change the behavior of the drug user; this is something the drug user has to choose to do.
The sad truth is that until the drug user is ready to commit to getting help, there is nothing that you can do to help them to get help. Allowing the drug user to manipulate you into feeling guilty for not giving them money, shelter or drugs, does not help them in the long run. Also, having substance users attend meetings that instill the feeling of "it is not your fault, you are diseased" takes away the responsibility that it is their choice to use drugs. There is no reason for their drug use other than they want to use drugs.
When substance users are ready to commit to change, there is a program that can help them get the education, information and support they need to stop their drug use and start to rebuild their life. Saint Jude Retreats is a Cognitive Behavioral Learning (CBL) program that teaches guests to use self assessment and self change to reevaluate their choices and decisions and to make more productive choices and behaviors. If you or your loved one could benefit from the methodologies taught at Saint Jude's, please call one of our Family Consultants at 888.424.2626 for further information.