How to Approach an Addict
Knowing how to approach a loved one who you believe is addicted to barbiturates can be a difficult and daunting task if you do not fully understand addiction. Fortunately, there are professionals who can help you to approach this topic with your loved one and increase the chances that your attempt will be successful. Two types of professional services that are of use when trying to help a loved one struggling with addiction include intervention and Community Reinforcement and Family Training, or CRAFT.
A formally and properly staged intervention is led by a professional-typically, a substance abuse therapist, psychologist or interventionist-who will work with concerned individuals in your loved one’s life who wish to help him seek treatment.
If you go this route, you can expect that the beginning stages of the intervention will include organizing your thoughts and concerns prior to meeting with your loved one. Once this stage is complete, the interventionist will involve your loved one in a structured setting where each of you will be able to express your concerns in a loving and supportive manner.
At the end of the intervention, options for treatment will be presented to your loved one. These options should be arranged ahead of time, in case he is willing to seek treatment.
CRAFT is also led by a professional and has been shown to be more effective than other forms of intervention. The focus of CRAFT is to train family members and concerned significant others (CSOs) in different, more effective ways of engaging the addicted person. Family members learn how to 1,2:
- Identify the addicted loved one’s individual triggers and indicators of abuse.
- Reinforce positive behaviors and extinguish substance abuse-related behaviors.
- Communicate with their loved one.
- Guide that person towards the direction of seeking treatment.
If you plan to approach your loved one alone, it’s a good idea to understand what it is generally helpful and what tends to worsen the situation. When approaching your loved one:
- Prepare a list of recent events that have made you feel concerned about her well-being.
- When speaking about your concerns, use “I” statements such as, “I have noticed some things about your substance use that have left me feeling scared for your safety. I would like to understand what is going on so that I can help.”
- Contact a few therapists, psychiatrists, and treatment centers and prepare some resources for your loved one in case she is interested in seeking treatment.
- Assure your loved one that you are only trying to help and communicate in what capacity you are willing to do so now and throughout his recovery.
When communicating with your loved one, don’t:
- Approach her when she is intoxicated.
- Use accusations, blaming statements, or a lecturing tone.
- Use statements that imply judgment.
- Enable through your actions or words, including providing money, taking care of the addict’s responsibilities, making excuses for her actions, or using other substances around the addict.
Know when to leave the conversation if she is not receptive. Convey your serious intent to help. Give the addict time to think about it, but do not try to force a decision if she is not ready.
If you or a loved one would like to get treatment and start recovery from barbiturate addiction, there are several options available.
Medically Supervised Detox. Barbiturate withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and the symptoms at minimum could be severe enough to trigger relapse or even be medically dangerous in some cases. A supervised detox program can help you through this tenuous time and usher you into ongoing rehabilitation for drug addiction. In medically supervised detox, staff members will monitor the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and will be able to provide medical and therapeutic relief for those symptoms. Detox is a short-term approach and best works as a precursor to longer-term inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment.
Facility Treatment and Care. These facilities provide comprehensive care in a completely sober environment that allows those in recovery to escape their normal environmental triggers and focus completely on learning to develop and maintain substance abstinence. Programs vary but may include:
- Individual, group, and family therapy.
- Alternative or less traditional therapies such as:
- Art and recreation therapy.
- Yoga and fitness classes.
- Healthy and balanced nutrition.
- Medication management.
The length of stay can vary greatly from person to person and usually depends upon the severity of the addiction.
Treatment and care outside of a facility. Outpatient treatment program varieties include:
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) – An all-day group therapy setting that additionally provides medication management and access to other medical services, if needed.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) – A partial day program that provides group therapy and expects that you have an outside provider for medication management.
- Individual Therapy – Allows you to continue the work that was started in a residential setting.
- Support groups such as AA or SMART Recovery – These regularly scheduled meetings are often free and a good option for follow-up care and peer support.
Call 1-888-744-0069 for confidential help.
Are Barbiturates Addictive?
Barbiturates activate an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA. Increasing the activity of this chemical depresses the central nervous system and leads to a sedative, euphoric, and sometimes hypnotic state in the person using barbiturates.
In addition, some users will experience a temporary relief of anxiety and emotional tension. These desirable effects, in combination with the tendency of the brain to adjust to a new equilibrium over time when taking barbiturates, lead to a high potential for abuse, tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
What are the Signs of Addiction?
Someone who is abusing or addicted to barbiturates may exhibit signs that are similar to someone who is abusing alcohol.
Some signs and symptoms to look for if you believe a loved one is abusing barbiturates include 3.4:
- Impaired cognition and mental processing
- Reduced inhibition.
- Impaired judgment.
- Emotional instability.
- Sedation – the user may seem really relaxed or drowsy.
- Slurred speech.
- Lack of coordination – the user may fall over frequently or be more prone to accidents.
Someone who has been using barbiturates at higher-than-therapeutic doses can build up a tolerance quickly. If the user continues to use barbiturates at increasingly higher doses, he may also become physiologically dependent. Some of the more severe, but less common symptoms of abuse by a person who has become dependent include 3:
- High risk of overdose.
Signs of Withdrawal
If you believe someone you love is dependent on barbiturates and experiencing withdrawal, these are some symptoms to look out for 3:
- Anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, or panic.
- Involuntary muscle twitching and/or tremors.
- Weakness that is progressive.
- Visual distortions.
- Weight loss.
- Severe drops in blood pressure upon standing.
- Hallucinations or major psychotic episode.
Am I Addicted?
In addition to the barbiturate-specific signs of addiction, below is a list of common symptoms exhibited by those who are struggling with an addiction to barbiturates or any other substance. If you or a loved one identify with at least two of the following symptoms, then an addiction may be present 4:
- Using a greater amount of barbiturates than was prescribed or more than you had intended to take.
- Attempting to quit using the drug with no success.
- Becoming preoccupied with using barbiturates.
- Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school.
- Experiencing cravings when not using the drug.
- Continuing to use barbiturates even after noticing that they worsen medical problems.
- Using the drug in situations where mental and physical acuity is required to prevent injury or death (e.g., driving).
- No longer engaging in activities or hobbies that you once enjoyed.
- Finding that barbiturates no longer have the same therapeutic effect they once had, or that more is required to obtain similar results (tolerance).
- Experiencing some of the symptoms of withdrawal listed above when you reduce or stop taking barbiturates.
Call Our Hotline Today
If you or a loved one are dealing with a barbiturate addiction, help is available. Contact one of our dedicated treatment support representatives today at 1-888-744-0069 to begin your journey to sobriety.
- American Psychological Association. (2016). Community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT).
- Center for Motivation and Change. (2014). What is CRAFT?
- Eddy, N. B., Halbach, H., Isbell, H., & Seevers, M. H. (1965). Drug dependence: its significance and characteristics. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 32(5), 721–733.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association