The earlier, the better

Those of us who have never dealt with a substance use disorder have no profound understanding of how it happens or why that loved one can’t get past the need for the substance. But, if or when it happens, we can be a part of their treatment and recovery in a positive, proper way.

Does that person want to talk about their substance use? Probably not when you first bring it up. It’s possible, perhaps likely, that they don’t realize it is a problem. Denial is common. Denial hides the substance use problem and allows it to continue. That person may become angry when you dare to bring up the questions, but they will remember what you said when they are ready to ask you to help them. They will remember if you were angry or patient, accusing or encouraging. They will need your support.

The Addiction Policy Forum (APF) recently published Navigating Addiction and Treatment: A Guide for Families.The guide urges that every conversation you have with that person is important. And the sooner he or she gets into treatment for recovery, the better.

“Substance use disorders get worse over time,” APF advises. “The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to ‘wait for rock bottom’ and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work.”

APF goes on to say, “Belief in this ‘rock bottom’ can keep people who are struggling from reaching out for help. It can also keep family, friends and care providers from addressing the issue because they have been incorrectly told that the disease has to ‘run its course’ and that they should practice ‘tough love’ until a person hits bottom.”

The earlier the treatment begins, the better the outcomes.

You might feel awkward about the conversation you need to have. Where do you begin such a conversation because you just don’t know how it’s going to go? It will grow ugly quickly, you fear. Take the time to think about what you want to say and how you should say it. And you need to be prepared for the day when that loved one comes to you and asks, “Will you help me?” You need your plan for helping in order to help that person begin their plan for treatment and recovery. You can think about your plan while also arming yourself with good information from counselors and treatment facilities about treatment and recovery.

In Columbiana County there is a support group “for relatives and friends concerned about the use of drugs or related behavioral problems.” Families Anonymous is an international support program with a chapter that meets weekly at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Oxford House, 320 Benton Road, Salem. Covid guidelines are used to keep everyone safe. For more information about Families Anonymous, contact Marie H., 330-277-7611 or Fred K, 330-501-7461.

The Three C’s of Addiction are: We didn’t CAUSE it. We can’t CONTROL it. We can’t CURE it. The Three C’s of Recovery are: CHOICES, CHANGES and COURAGE. You can learn all about these concepts and get the support you need to be the support your loved one needs at Families Anonymous.


Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.


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