The First Step You Should Take When a Loved One Shows Signs of Addiction: Advice From Dr. Drew

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We sat down with globally recognized addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky to answer one of the most pressing questions people have when faced with the disease:

What is the first step you should take if you have no knowledge of addiction and find out (or suspect) a loved one is suffering from it?

Read on for Dr. Drew’s helpful advice on actionable efforts and pitfalls to avoid in the early stages of consultation and treatment.

Get Professional Advice on Addiction

The first step is to call your doctor if you have one. If you don’t have a doctor, get insurance or Obamacare. Get some resources in place. If you have a healthcare professional engaged in any way, go to them for an evaluation to confirm addiction is the problem. Things that look like addiction are sometimes brain tumors. Other things could be going on.

Downsides and Pitfalls to the Medical System

The problem with seeking professional assistance is that the medical system can be treacherous for addicts. People are given pills all the time that are addictive. Doctors don’t really understand addiction that well and they don’t always know how to refer for treatment. This means you kind of have to do your own legwork.

Your physician may know a mental professional that is very good in this field. In that case, go to them. Your doctor may also be informed in their own right, which is great. Listen to him or her.

Don’t Fall for Ineffective Drug Abuse Programs

Ultimately, I would urge you to do your due diligence and look into programs that are abstinence based. This means they have your loved one leaving treatment on nothing addictive of any sort. No Suboxone or other addictive medications. Anti-depressant or mood stabilizers are fine, but nothing that has any addictive properties. That’s a certain philosophy of care that a lot of places don’t have. And don’t fall for the BS that you or your loved one is somehow going to be magically cured.

There are a lot of different approaches that have interesting social models. Bottom line, look for the winners and don’t fall for the BS. Make sure the program you choose is medically managed. There should be a professional who has proper training and experience supervising treatment. This ensures there is a standard the program is being held to.

Want more insight into addiction from Dr. Drew? Press play to listen to the full interview, where we discuss his perspective and advice as an expert on substance abuse.

Last modified: June 7, 2017