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The Transition House Blog

Roadmap: Recovering from substance abuse

Posted by Jennifer Dellasanta on Jan 22, 2015 12:40:36 PM


If you or someone you care about is abusing a substance and is not getting treatment for it, what can be done to help them?

The first step toward recovery is recognizing a problem exists and making the decision to get help with an addiction.

The individual with the problem needs to know they are not alone in their abuse or not seeking treatment. About 1 in 10 Central Florida residents use illicit drugs, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

About 3 percent abuse or have a dependence on illicit drugs and 2.3 percent need treatment for illicit drug abuse but do not receive it, the survey found.


Alcohol abuse among those aged 12 or older was about 6 percent in the region, the same survey found. About the same number – 6 percent – needed treatment for alcohol abuse, but did not receive it.

Convincing someone to get help once they have recognized they have a problem may be easier said than done. While using any substance – whether legal like alcohol or an illicit drug – begins as a voluntary act, but that changes when an individual becomes addicted.

But, even before having the conversation with the person you are trying to help, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence recommends having a mapping out a strategy with a licensed drug or alcohol counselor.

Treating addiction like a disease instead of just a problem is critical to any treatment being successful. When addiction occurs, changes in the brain interfere with an individual’s ability to make voluntary decisions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse..

Another key to a successful treatment is having the courage to have a conversation with a friend or loved one because you may think it’s none of your business.

Consider this: If your friend or loved one was choking, wouldn’t you try to help or find someone who could help them?

That’s the way you have to look at substance abuse. Many of those who are addicted to substances lose their ability to make voluntary decisions, like seeking help for their own addictions.

Helping someone recognize their addiction not only will change their life, but it will also improve their health too. Many diseases – cardiovascular, cancer, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and others – are associated with continued abuse of substances.

The price that someone might pay for refusing to seek help for their addiction could be high – 71,581 deaths in 2012 were blamed on alcohol and legal and illegal drugs, according to 2012 statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control data.

So, can you help that friend or loved one from becoming a statistic? Sometimes self help is not enough. You must have that difficult conversation with them about their addiction. But, what do you say and how do you say it? Here is a step-by-step guide from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. This is another guide from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence that includes an online test for alcohol and drug dependence.

If the person you are trying to help refused to acknowledge they have an addiction, an intervention may be necessary. While this focused approach may get someone into treatment, interventions are most successful when done under the guidance of a licensed drug or alcohol counselor, according to Mayo Clinic.


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Topics: Services, Substance Abuse, Counseling

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The Transition House is a behavioral health organization serving the public in Florida and Tennessee.

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