Breaking free: How to help conquer an addiction

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Five years ago we moved from Fort Collins, CO to Indianapolis.  I love the Hoosier people and our family missed the Midwestern hospitality, so we packed up everything up and moved East.   That move has truly been a blessing for our family and the McCall Dentures family, but it came with a striking surprise.

Addiction in Indiana

Look up the statistics.  Opiod usage is a epidemic in Indiana.  I see it every day in our practices.   Addiction has become a major problem in the Hoosier State.

Indiana is one of four states where the fatal drug overdose rate has more than quadrupled since 1999. Hoosiers are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident. According to the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, the total cost of drug overdoses in Indiana tops $1 billion annually, measured in medical expenses and lifetime earnings losses.

President of Indiana University Michael McRobbie recently said:

“Governor Holcomb has identified addressing the urgent substance abuse crisis, which is taking an increasingly severe toll on the health of far too many Hoosiers, as a key priority for the state, and aligning the resources of the state, including its universities, as a critical step in achieving that priority,” 

It’s time to step up and help others deal with their addiction.

And …. I’m not just talking about drugs and alcohol.  People can be addicted to gambling, soda, or even food.   Odds are you know someone like this and there may be a chance this describes you as well.   If it does, we can help.

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As a Friend You can Help

Helping others with addiction automatically automatically induces anxiety.   You’re fond of your friendship and anything that puts it in jeopardy is naturally uncomfortable.

If your friend wanted advice, you would give it.   “What tie should i wear?”  “Which book would you read?”  – you’d answer those questions.   If you friend needed help with a crisis, you would provide support.   Talking to someone about their addiction is both frightening and  difficult.   Often times it’s harder on the person bringing light to the issue than it is the person suffering from the addiction.

Luckily, there is plenty of help in Indiana.

 

The following is  a summary of the best of advice from the websites of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

1. Do your homework. Before you suit up and help your friend fight the good fight, you must understand the disease. Study it. Learn how the disease starts, how it manifests, what triggers it, and how to conquer it. Many resources have sections for family and friends that can help guide you in the most effective direction to your friend’s recovery.

2. Plant the seed. Your friend needs to know how the ripples of the addiction affect the ones they love. Change often starts with a caring conversation. Talk to your friend about the addiction. This should be done with love and gentleness. Don’t blame. Don’t argue. Don’t criticize. They need to know that you have seen a change, that it worries you, and that you are available to help. It’s not always about saving your friend right then, right there. It’s more about planting a seed that, with proper water and sunlight, will grow to fruition within your friend.

3. Forgive. One trap people often fall into when confronting someone with addiction is a lack of empathy. They can’t understand how someone can fall so low. After all, it’s not that hard to say no, right? But it’s not as black and white as saying yes or no. Addiction is more than a lifestyle choice. It’s a disease like any other. Empathy and forgiveness are imperative during this time. Remember the person that your friend truly is, not the one they have become. If anyone can see the true potential buried within them, it’s you. Their recent behavior, the hurtful actions and words and thoughts, aren’t them. It’s the disease.

4. Listen. An important moment in recovery is when the addict opens up and talks. If you are present for this moment, do the right thing and listen. Allow your friend to release all of the emotion and tension they have bottled up for so long. Don’t interrupt. Don’t challenge. Don’t make it about you. Just listen and be the friend they need you to be.

5. Be Loyal. If this was a patient of yours, you wouldn’t utter a word to anyone else about it. It’s illegal and unethical. Your friend’s situation is no different. Don’t gossip. Cherish this recovery process for what it is. You are helping your friend through one of the most important periods of their life. Keep it sacred. And stand by their side.

6. Know when to punt. It’s important to remember that the road to recovery involves many people, many meetings, many support groups, and a reliable therapist. You are not these things. At some point on the journey, you will need to get off the bus. Know your role in the recovery, and allow the experts and proven methods to do what they do best. You did your part. You lit the match. You aren’t losing a friend. You are allowing your friend to reach their full potential. Continue to make yourself available should they need a companion.

You see the bright potential in your friend.  You believe in them, so you know that they can believe in themselves.   Help them see the world in a new way.  We can help withe the teeth.

Yours in better health,

Ryan

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