Suggestions for Family and Friends of an Addict:
Two stages of withdrawal
1. The first stage is the acute, intense and immediate withdrawal that occurs directly after stopping use.
2. The second stage is the long-term effects or withdrawal symptoms that occur after initial withdrawal symptoms. This usually occurs 3 - 6 months and can last 2 years or more.
The severity of the second stage usually depends on two factors.
The first is the amount and degree of brain dysfunction that has been caused by:
Length of use.
Type of chemicals used.
Any injuries that occurred associated with the use.
The second thing that can affect Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) are:
Stress factors experienced early in the recovery process.
Severity of the psychological and social stressors that may occur within the first year or more.
Here are some symptoms of how PAWS affects the thinking process FOR UP TO TWO YEARS:
Having hard time learning and remembering new information.
Both short-term and long-term memory can be affected.
Inability to handle stress or uncertain situations.
Fuzziness of thinking, an inability to think clearly or logically.
Difficulty with solving problems and abstract reasoning.
Difficulty concentrating for any length of time or blanking out
All or nothing, black or white thinking.
Having a difficult time prioritizing goals and putting them into action.
Some emotional PAWS symptoms may last UP TO TWO YEARS:
An inability to sleep soundly.
Having nightmares or dreams about using alcohol or drugs.
Drug use will deplete dopamine in the brain, causing the person unable to feel happiness.
Emotional symptoms are increase due to lack of sleep.
A frequent occurrence of radical mood swings.
Difficulty to relate to others.
Disproportionate emotions for a situation, for example flying into a rage over a small incident.
Having inappropriate emotions.
How To Help
Help by expecting the person NOT to remember all dates/times/appointments - it will take time and practice for the brain to start functioning properly. Don't set the person up for failure by expecting too much - too fast.
Help by reminding the person of events, appointments. Use tools such as calendars, cell phone reminders, daily to-do lists.
Help by setting small goals and supporting the person to meet deadlines.
Help by not getting upset because you feel they are not trying hard enough.
Help by trying to ease or eliminate stress until they become stronger mentally and physically.
Help by understanding this is a real problem and they are not just acting lazy or helpless...give a hand-up (not a handout)
Help by talking them through situations they feel are confusing or difficult.
Help by being supportive, but not enabling!!!
Help by being a person they can trust and talk to without judging them (or find them a person if it cannot by you).
Help by seeking education regarding diet/exercise/supplements to help balance and function of the brain.
Help by understanding happiness may not just "happen" for them. Brain function can take up to 2 years or longer to regain balance.
Help by encouraging proper nutrition and exercise. Remember - They are trying each day and it is much harder than you can ever imagine.
Encourage counseling, support groups and ongoing medical & mental health appointments as needed. Each day the recovering addict wakes up wanting to succeed and have a great day, however, they have many factors which may make the day difficult and challenging. They need supportive people who understand part of what they are going through.
Signs of Addiction
This website is always under construction as things change.
1. They may talk about missing or stolen pills & want more refills on their drink.
2. They may hide stuff around the house.
3. They may start stealing.
4. They may want a head start before going out with friends.
5. Tricks and manipulations/admitting a little/half-truths.
6. They may start selling stuff and asking for loans.
7. The clear choice - Vodka for alcoholics.
8. They may become missing in action/unreliable/forgetful/late.
9. They may have a loss of interest in friends/family& going places.
10. They may water down liquor bottles and hide bottles.
11. They may have rapid weight loss.
12. Excessive mints, gum, mouthwash, perfume, eye drops.
13. They may steal from bathrooms.
14. They may have unstable moods.
15. They may constantly want to sleep.
16. They may talk of pain that never ends.
17. They may have frequent sickness without any cause.
18. They may have paranoia and panic attacks.
19. The storyteller - They may lie to get what they want.
20. The blame game - Nothing is ever their fault.
21. Missing Spoons.