When someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, it can be challenging to know how you can help them. One thing you can’t do is step into their life and make a change for them, although recovery is something they will need a support system to get through. While loved ones can be a huge help during recovery, the acknowledgment that drugs or alcohol have become a problem, and the steps toward sobriety, usually have to come from the individual. You can still learn how to get someone into rehab and help them take those steps — or seek a court-appointed ruling to get someone into a drug or alcohol rehab center if they’re presenting a danger to themselves or others.

Here’s what you need to know about identifying the problem and getting someone into an addiction treatment center in various scenarios. For guidance through this process, call us at 252-596-0584 today.

The Consequences of Substance Use Disorders

If you’re someone with an addicted loved one in your life, you’ll need to educate yourself on the short- and long-term effects of alcohol and drug abuse. This knowledge can help prevent them from pulling the wool over your eyes about how serious their problem is. It can also be a tool for you to get them into a rehab program. When you sound like an expert, they’re much more likely to listen to you. 

Chronic drug use and alcohol addiction take a serious toll on the mental health of the individual with the problem, as well as causing physical harm that gets progressively worse. Different substances affect the body and mind in distinct ways, and we’d recommend learning about them to give you the best chance of helping your family member. Most people suffering from an active addiction will require professional help to get their life back on track. 

Alcohol

Up until a certain point — often when it’s too late — alcoholism can be easier to hide than other substance use disorders. Alcohol use is socially acceptable, making it simpler for someone suffering from addiction to hide their problem, especially from people they don’t live with. It’s time to worry if they do the following: seeming preoccupied with drinking, drinking until they pass out, experiencing blackouts or engaging in risky behavior, or if they seem to be struggling with work, school or their social life.

Long term, the most impacted organs are the liver and the brain. Alcohol contracts brain tissue and destroys brain cells. It can also significantly increase a person’s risk of developing various types of cancer. 

Heroin

Heroin addiction is catastrophic due to how quickly the drug takes over a person’s central nervous system. There is a range of signs to look out for with regards to heroin addiction, such as a runny nose, track marks, drastic weight loss, drowsiness, intense mood swings and paraphernalia such as tinfoil, bags of brown powder, needles and glass pipes. 

This deadly drug causes addiction within a matter of days of regular use, hijacking part of the brain and tricking it into believing the body relies on the substance. Long-term use leads to the desolation of a person’s social and vocational life, arthritis, heart disease, weakening of the immune system, severely reduced sexual functioning and respiratory diseases and much more. 

Methamphetamine

Meth quickly takes an extreme toll on the mind and body, making it one of the most dangerous drugs out there. If someone you care about is using meth, they might show signs of extreme weight loss, hyperactivity, twitching, insomnia, unexplained weight loss and burns on the lips and fingers. Paraphernalia to be on the lookout for includes glass pipes and drug bags with crystalline powder. 

Chronic meth abuse leads to a host of awful side effects, such as heart disease, liver failure, rotten teeth, kidney failure, premature aging, high blood pressure, paranoia, delusions, depression and memory loss. 

Prescription Medication

The most commonly abused prescription drugs are opiate painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and sedatives, including diazepam and zopiclone. When someone is using these drugs, the effects are especially prominent if taken with alcohol. Signs to look out for are blister packs or pill bottles, mood swings, drowsiness at inappropriate times, asking for or stealing people’s prescriptions and withdrawing from social situations. 

Long-term use of prescription pills can lead to liver damage, impaired memory, heart disease, respiratory problems and problems with work and relationships. 

Cocaine/Crack Cocaine   

Cocaine and crack cocaine cause an influx of neurotransmitters that bring on feelings of confidence, euphoria and the desire to talk. Crack is a treated version of cocaine that is faster acting and more concentrated. Signs you might notice include agitation, excessive and uninhibited talking, strange jaw motions, glass pipes, brown rocks, white powder and frequent trips to the toilet.

When someone uses this type of stimulant frequently, they’re putting their heart under extreme pressure. Other long-term effects include liver, kidney and lung damage, severe tooth decay, malnutrition, respiratory failure, psychosis and reproductive damage.  

How to Get Someone Into Rehab When They’ve Asked for Help

The first scenario occurs when a friend or family member admits to you that they’re struggling with a substance abuse problem and asks for your help. While it may seem small, this is a huge step for someone who is considering recovery. It’s important to react as calmly as you can and talk with the person in a nonjudgmental manner. It’s also critical to realize that you probably can’t help this person on your own; addiction is a chronic illness that typically requires professional intervention. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from counselors, doctors or drug rehab facilities.

Offer to help your loved one research recovery options, be with them when they call or visit a facility or help them arrange an appointment with a doctor or therapist. For someone who’s caught in the cycle of addiction, reaching outside it is the unknown and can be scary. Offering encouragement and support through this process makes it more likely your loved one will follow through on seeking professional addiction treatment in North Carolina.

Can You Convince Someone to Go to Rehab?

If you’re wondering how to get someone to enter rehab when they haven’t come to you for help, you probably realize it’s a more complicated process. This is especially true if the person has been hiding their addiction or avoiding discussing it.

First, you must talk to the person about the addiction. This is often referred to as “confronting someone about addiction,” but remember that confrontational behavior on your part can spark defensive behavior on theirs. Here are some tips for opening the discussion about drug or alcohol abuse with a loved one.

  • Whenever possible, choose a time and place that’s comfortable for you both. The Thanksgiving dinner table (with all the relatives looking on) or the hurried moments before rushing off to work are not ideal. Try to select options that afford privacy, time and physical comfort.
  • Prepare yourself so you can remain as calm as possible. Don’t make light of the situation or pretend it’s not upsetting, but try to keep an even tone and stay on topic. Be honest and specific about how the other person’s addiction makes you feel so they can understand they alone aren’t impacted, but don’t make it all about you or play the blame game. Always remember that addiction is a disease process.
  • Listen to the other person too; if they’re willing to talk about their addiction, it’s a good sign. But how you react can set the tone for the rest of the discussion.
  • Do try to find a moment when the person is sober if possible; if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may not be rational or able to process what you are saying appropriately.
  • If you’ve attempted to talk to someone about their drug or alcohol abuse unsuccessfully, consider speaking to a professional interventionist who can help you stage an intervention.

Once you’ve opened the door to the discussion and the other person has started to respond positively, bring up treatment options. Offer to help them research rehab facilities, and encourage them that rehab is available for every person and there are many options. If they are willing, don’t wait — call Changing Tides at 252-596-0584 for a free consultation. We will speak with your loved one and help them understand what options they have for seeking recovery; if we’re not the appropriate facility, we can recommend another treatment facility.

How to Get Someone Into a Treatment Program Against Their Will

Unfortunately, there are times that no amount of discussion convinces someone to take those critical first steps. In some cases, interventionist court-ordered rehab may be possible. While this may seem like tough love, you’re helping someone whose judgment is severely clouded to begin a recovery process that is integral for their future happiness. 

In North Carolina, the criteria for involuntary commitment to a rehab facility is that the person is using drugs or alcohol pathologically and presents a danger to themselves or others. In cases such as these, there are three paths to seeking involuntary commitment.

  1. You can petition the court. If the magistrate agrees with your petition, they impose a court order and instruct a law enforcement officer to take the individual into custody. The officer transports them to a hospital ER or other appropriate medical facility for an exam. This must occur within 24 hours of the order. If the evaluating clinician agrees there is a danger present, the individual is admitted to a 24-hour facility. A second exam occurs at that time, and the second clinician decides whether the individual should be released or admitted to a substance abuse treatment program. The individual legally must comply with this recommendation but will have a hearing before the court within 10 days to decide the matter going forward.
  2. A clinician can file the petition, and this counts as the first exam. If the magistrate agrees with the petition and issues an order, a law enforcement officer transports the individual directly to the 24-hour facility, and the rest of the process from step one occurs.
  3. A clinician can file an emergency petition. This is done when the clinician believes the person needs immediate medical or psychiatric care. It counts as the first exam, and they’ll skip the magistrate review. The individual then goes straight to the 24-hour facility, and they’ll follow the rest of the process from step one.

You can access the forms for involuntary commitment on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

Reaching Out for Help Today

Involuntary commitment processes exist for a reason, and sometimes this process is the only way to protect someone. Court-ordered commitments can work; someone may have several days or a week within rehab before a court hearing, and that may be enough for them to detox and begin to realize they’re struggling with addiction and that change is possible. It’s also true that someone who is a willing participant in their rehab is more likely to see success. Involuntary commitment processes are usually the last resort effort, and you don’t have to wait for that to be your only option. Contact Changing Tides today to understand how we can help your loved one take the first steps toward addiction recovery.