Addictions or serious issues can befall family members without warning. In some cases, you may miss the signs that your loved ones are in danger.
Sometimes these signs don’t seem to have a reasonable explanation behind them. As the National Institute on Health says, “If an adolescent starts behaving differently for no apparent reason—such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile—it could be a sign he or she is developing a drug-related problem.”
Even if you do see the warning signs, it can be difficult to help. What should you do if a parent, sibling or child is dealing with an addiction or mental illness?
Signs a Person is in Danger
There are many clues that a person may give to indicate that he or she needs help. If your child suddenly stops caring about school, it may be because he or she is being bullied. If a sibling stops calling or attending family functions, it could be a sign of depression.
If you find suspicious withdrawals from a marital bank account, it could be that a spouse has a gambling or drug issue. The fourth sign of trouble is if someone sleeps too much or is sleeping too little.
How People Cope with Their Problems
A person may try to cope with addiction, illness or other problems in a number of ways. For example, some may choose to pretend like nothing is wrong. Depressed people may take a lot of happy pictures or give pep talks to others in order to hide their true feelings.
People with an alcohol problem may choose to drink when no one is around. According to The Recovery Village, “approximately 31 percent of alcoholics in the U.S. are young adults in their late teens, 20s, or early 30s. These alcoholics usually do not seek treatment for alcohol abuse, in spite of problems with school, work, relationships, or finances.” This means that your children could be drinking even if you don't see it happening.
Finally, some may cope with their problems by self-harming. This may include cutting their wrists, burning themselves or otherwise causing intentional bodily injury. Depressed or suicidal individuals may also talk about death or post about the topic online.
How to Help Those in Crisis
The first step to helping those in crisis is to show that you are there for them. Many who are mentally ill or battling an addiction think that they’re a burden to society. As a result, they may not take your offer of help seriously or take you up on it. This means that you need to be patient and allow the individual to come to grips with the issue at their own pace.
In the meantime, you can send links to support groups, therapists, or other resources that your loved one can check out. If your family member is in immediate danger, you should not hesitate to call 911 or take other steps to intervene.
The same is true if your family member is putting others in danger. For instance, you could seek custody of your grandchildren if they’re being neglected by a parent battling substance abuse or other problems.
It’s never easy to see a loved one dealing with a physical or mental health problem. However, you have to resist the urge to coddle or enable this person. Instead, you need to provide guidance and insight that will hopefully lead to this individual realizing that he or she can make changes.
You and your loved ones’ health matters.
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