Approaching Loved Ones About Addiction and the Meaning Behind Independence Day
The words “freedom” and “rights” seem to be carelessly tossed around like miscellaneous papers haphazardly caught in the wind. However, what the United States of America was founded upon is anything but haphazard. It was intentional and precise.
The forefathers of this nation knew that the only way to truly be free was to declare independence from British rule in order to live the freedom that its people so desperately sought and fought for. Independence Day, or the 4th of July, comes down to two words: independence and freedom.
The two words came at a high price. Lives were lost. Lives were wronged. And ironically, lives were enslaved all in the name of freedom. And despite our independence from Great Britain, the desire for freedom by all people resulted in consistent battles for equality and justice throughout American history–from the Civil War, to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, to peaceful protests, to courtrooms.
Independence Day and Addiction
Our forefathers authored and signed what would become known as the Declaration of Independence, which states that “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is our right to pursue happiness, to have life, and to have liberty. Ideally, it is the support of our own rights, as well as that of others, that makes us a collective nation that is truly free.
So this Independence Day, what can we do to support other people?
American Addiction Centers is the nation’s leader in addiction treatment and is fully committed to helping those battling with addiction. Those who struggle with an alcohol use disorder or a substance use disorder may have lost their way, but perhaps with the support of family and friends they can find their way back.
“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” have been declared rights for every American citizen. Remind friends and family who have an active addiction that their lives and happiness matter.
Know the Signs of Substance Abuse
Understanding what you should look for if you suspect that a loved one is struggling with the abuse of alcohol or drugs is important so that you can figure out the most appropriate way to approach them.Symptoms of substance abuse:
- Losing a job or dropping out of school.
- Cognition and memory problems.
- Sleeping irregularly; being lethargic.
- Stealing valuables or money to pay for drugs.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when access to substances is withheld.
- Appearing intoxicated more often.
- Becoming intoxicated before or after social events or specifically attending events to get intoxicated or not attending social events in order to abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Lashing out when questioned about substance use.
- Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance.
- Lying about substance use.
If you’re not a psychologist or physician, you may not feel qualified to decide what your loved one’s behaviors mean. It isn’t your job to diagnose. Simply observe their behavior over time, recount their behaviors of the past, and determine if you notice any significant patterns from the list above. These signs may serve as an indication that they may need help and support.
How to Approach a Loved One with an Active Addiction
Approaching a loved one with a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder may feel like you’re placing yourself in a vulnerable situation. This may be the case. Addiction can be very unpredictable. An approach, regardless of good intentions, may lead to uncomfortable, emotionally painful, verbally abusive, or even physically dangerous confrontations when a family or friend attempts to reach out.
If you believe that your physical safety and well-being will be threatened in any way, seek professional help and advice on what the best approach should be beforehand. However, below are some guidelines to help create as positive of an experience as possible, contingent on applying best practices specific to each individual situation. How to communicate with your loved one:
- Be consistent.
- Show unconditional love and support.
- Be kind.
- Be predictable.
- Create boundaries.
- Do it their way.
- Support the process of transformation.
- Help them to look for help.
In the end, effective communication is what you’re looking to have with your loved one. Although this is easier said than done, communication is key to ensuring that the needs of both parties are met.
For this Independence Day, consider contributing to the support of someone else’s rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you have a loved one battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, know that help is here for you both. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Be safe, stay healthy, and have a Happy 4th of July!