Q: Can substance abusers be cured?

A: As far as we know the only way a substance abuser can return to normal life is by giving up drugs and alcohol completely. Many times drug abusers and alcoholics need to seek help.

Q: I have heard that when substance abusers give up drugs or alcohol they experience withdrawal syndromes. What is meant by withdrawal syndromes?

A: Withdrawal syndromes are reactions that occur when a drug or alcohol is taken away from a person who is accustomed to its regular use.

It is as if the brain had a thermostat that was set higher because it was expecting to be slowed down by a drug. Once the brain has become adapted by regular use of drugs, a big rebound occurs when it is taken away. Without drugs, all the brain functions increase for a period of time until the thermostat readjusts.

Q: What are some steps that can be taken to help an alcoholic or drugging parent?

A: The first and most important step is for the whole family to recognize that the parent is ill and has lost control.

The second step is for the drug abuser to want to do something about the disease. The substance abuser is the only one who can conquer his addiction. There are hospitals, clinics, social and religious agencies, and groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous to help those suffering from addiction. The substance abuser will usually seek out these agencies once he has realaized this is an illness. The family members have to realize that their encouragement while the substance abuser is seeking help can aid the person in conquering his dependency on drugs or alcohol.

The earlier a family recognizes a substance abuser in their midst, the easier it will be for them to cope with the disease and perhaps make the addict aware that there is hope.