In 2009, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services reported that more than 23 million people over the age of 12 were in need of special treatment for addiction. In the United States, families are dealing with the problems of addiction daily. Thankfully, there are thousands of drug and alcohol treatment centers and a plethora of programs that are available to help them. Unfortunately, many families do not realize that battling drug addiction is an ongoing process. Recent studies have found that drug addiction is similar to diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as it is chronically relapsing as well. This means that there is no miracle drug or treatment to ‘cure’ it or that there is even a ‘cure’ per se. Instead, long-term care is necessary to achieve sustained recovery. If you have a drug user in your home, here are the steps that must be taken to help them. Understanding the Problem Drug abuse is a very complicated issue because it affects all aspects of life. The most troubling of those effects are the changes it causes in the brain. Drugs change the way the brain functions. Drugs affect the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfere with the way neurons send, receive, and process information. The chemicals in marijuana and heroin activate the neurons, leading them to send abnormal messages. Amphetamines and cocaine causes neurons to release neurotransmitters or prevents the natural recycling of brain chemicals, which produces an amplified message, disrupting communication channels. Most drugs target our brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine. These drugs over stimulate our brain’s dopamine-producing system, which produces euphoric effects. This strongly reinforces the action of taking drugs repeatedly, which makes quitting that much more difficult. Making the Call Once you have decided that you have a problem with drug abuse in the home and have become informed on addiction, you can speak to someone. Committing to getting clean and sober is difficult for several reasons, but getting the courage to make the call will be the best thing for the family. It is important for recovery that family and friends all understand the situation. If family and friends are not made aware or understand the situation, then they are more likely to enable the addict’s behavior. Speaking to a Counselor The first thing you will do after you have made your first call to a friend, hotline, or drug rehab facility is to talk to a counselor. As a family member or friend of the addict, it is important that you know what your role is in the rehabilitation process. This process is just as important to the rehab as is the addict going to a facility. The counselor will discuss the process that both the addict and his or her family and friends are about to go through. While speaking to a counselor will be the second step in seeking recovery for your family member or friend, the communication should be ongoing for as long as possible. Since the addict will be in rehab for a period of time getting the help they need, it will be imperative for you to get help as well in dealing with what you have gone through as a friend or family member of the addict. These individuals also suffer from the addict’s addiction and need help. On-going Family Support Family therapy and support are important in the rehabilitation process. Since drug abuse is a long-term problem, it is important that continued support and therapy are administered to reduce the likelihood of relapse. Family therapy is a very important tool that can help families heal from the scars of drug abuse and continue lives free of drug abuse.