Before I begin I would like to say that drug addiction is a disease and this focus is more related to opiate addiction, please do not consider them junkies, they have a problem just like depression or diabetes. Many addicts have had some traumatic events sometime in their lives, whether it was being during childhood or losing a loved one, witnessing an accident or sexual abuse. Just remember, it can happen to anyone, drug addicts come in many shapes and forms, some recover and some do not, all we can do is try our best to love them and guide them in the right direction.
Drug addiction hurts loved ones and family members, including children. It can be hereditary or from a traumatic incident or even a doctor giving them something for pain as simple as a toothache, and then the cycle begins. Once the brain gets that feed, it blocks the brain from creating pleasure without the drug and then more and more is needed and most likely they will turn to street drugs, which are too often lethal, but as we have seen with all the celebrities, a mix of prescription drugs can be deadlier.
Some addicts think, if I do it just this one time to take me away, I will be fine. I can walk away. Unfortunately, once turns into twice, then three times, then that's it, they are hooked and even if their minds are telling them it's wrong, the physical symptoms are horrendous. However, there are ways when they are ready to ease withdrawal, they have new treatments like the implant of the pellet, which uses two types of neurotransmitters in the brain, one to feed the brain what it craves and the other to block the effects, so in turn if they try to get high, they cannot.
They also have Suboxone, placed under the tongue to dissolve. It can work wonders for some, but others it does not, it has the same effect as the pellet, however, if you are not following through at this point and helping the addict, by holding their medication and administering it daily, then it defeats the purpose. It takes a couple of days without the medication, sometimes only hours for some addicts, for them to begin the cycle again and they fall right back in.
Methadone, is a big no-no, it is only a synthetic form of Heroin, with a higher risk of addiction and withdrawal. Even weaning off of methadone is a horrible experience. I do not believe in those clinics any more, they are out to make a buck; they just have the addict come in, take their drink, and be gone. There is no counseling, hardly any random drug testing or blood work to make sure they are not suffering ill effects while taking it. So I do not recommend methadone as a form of treatment, unless it is your last resort. It is quite costly too, cash only, they do not accept insurance, so be careful before seeking this particular treatment.
One of the first things you should never do is be an enabler. Yes, this is extremely difficult as you watch the addict dwindle down the path of destruction, but when you lie for them or give them money you are only giving them the opportunity to get high again, so don't, as hard as it is, if they have children, you buy the groceries, you take care of the kids, it's not their fault and why should the kids suffer needlessly. Never give the money to the addict, they will use the Rescue me approach, and then it gives them permission to use again.
Also, don't do something for an addict if it is something they could normally do for themselves if they were clean. Don't get them up for work, don't apologize for their behavior, don't give them legs stand on and don't bail them out of jail. Let them deal with their own decisions and the consequences that come with it. You will find this is difficult too, and I from personal experience am guilty, but learned how to deal with it the hard way. If you do these things it only extends the vicious cycle. You need to handle the situation in this way, because pain is a motivation for change.
Don't try to save someone who is in self-destruction, you will only bring yourself and others down with you. When they have had enough, they will give up, and attempt a sober lifestyle. It will be hard for them, even a lifelong battle, and some will not make it, some will overdose, some will be that way for years, and some will overcome and fight to stay clean.
Don't be nasty or try to punish them, just let them go through the consequences of their actions, if they end up in jail, oh well let them stay. If they get violent, leave and let them have their fit. Don't react; if you do they will turn all their energy on you. Remove yourself from the situation, and eventually they will take a long hard look at themselves and their behavior. They call this detachment, and it's healthy, it will slowly bring them to their knees for them to surrender.
If you are considering pushing for treatment, don't bother, they have to be ready on their own. If you push them, no matter what the treatment, they will almost definitely fail. An addict has to want it and realize it's a problem. You can however give them options, only if they come to you first, and when they do, you will know they have surrendered, so then offer them the help that they want on your terms.
Once you see they are going in the right direction, support them and discuss carefully what you have witnessed and show them how other addicts look so they can see from outside themselves. You can even tape them when they are in a drug induced state, so when they are ready to take the first step and become clean, go ahead and show them the tape, so they can see what other's have lived with.
When they are clean, it will be quite difficult not to have a watchful eye, inspecting their every move. If they are late, you think the worst, if they are sick, you think they are using again. One thing you should never do, even if you suspect they did something or have hardcore proof, don’t say I know you did this or you look like this. Do not tell them that they are disgusting or useless or a junkie or that you think they will fall again, if you do you are setting them up for failure. They will test you, they may get high once in a while to see your reaction. So do not react, when they see you show no reaction, they won't keep doing it, there is no challenge for them.
Do find support groups in your community, good ones, not the ones where they stand up and talk about loving to get high, this can make the addict want to run and get high once they leave. They need a real support group that actually cares. They also will need counseling; they need to get to the root of the problem to avoid going backwards. Depression can lead to drug addiction, so they may need counseling or treatment for depression that alone could make the biggest change.
This is an extremely difficult and life changing experience for both the addict and the family of an addict. The family wants to help, but have to step back. It will most likely be a rollercoaster even for several years, so it's up to you to deal with it properly. Always leave the door open, but only if they are clean, if not, walk away. You may find they will come back, not always, but if they feel your true love, they will. A good steady job, and a circle of the right type of friends, and a family who is there for them and loves them unconditionally, is definitely the most promised cure for an addict.
Remember, to help guide them, they must learn to stay away from, people, places and things, that is what usually spiraled their addiction in the first place.
Also remember, if they took the initiative and made that change, and are following in the right direction, they do deserve another chance, a chance to prove that they are human and make mistakes. With perseverance and determination an addict can find himself BACK TO LIFE.