How Family Members Can Cope with an Addict’s Paranoia

Drug and alcohol addiction is a condition that affects the addict as well as his or her family members, particularly when paranoia is involved. In order to best cope with your loved one’s paranoia, you must first understand the relationship between substance abuse and paranoia. With that understanding, it will be easier to recognize the importance of communication in managing the loved one’s paranoia. However, you should also remember to take care of yourself and understand when to separate yourself from the situation.

Understanding Addiction-Related Paranoia

It can be much more difficult to cope with a loved one’s paranoia when you don’t fully understand it. Drugs and alcohol have strong effects on the chemicals of the brain, called neurotransmitters. When an addict uses drugs or alcohol for an extended period of time, the brain compensates by altering the levels of certain neurotransmitters. These actions can lead to many mental and emotional side effects, including irritability, depression, anxiety, and paranoia. All addictions can potentially lead to paranoia. However, it may be more prominent in those addicted to alcohol, methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine and LSD.

Sometimes, an addict’s paranoia is simply a defense mechanism. Addicts may worry that their substance abuse will lead to negative consequences. For this reason, they may become defensive and protective, which can seem like paranoia. In other cases, paranoia is used as a distraction technique. For example, many addicts become paranoid that their spouse is cheating on them or is hiding something. This paranoia places attention on the spouse rather than the addict’s substance abuse. Paranoia can also be related to personal insecurities, which become more prominent when a person suffers from addiction. Addicts may make paranoid statements and claims, subconsciously looking for a reason to justify their deep insecurities.

Speak Clearly and Consistently

When speaking with a family member who is paranoid, it is important to always be clear and consistent to minimize misinterpretations. For example, if the addicted person asks you what you did during the day, you might avoid saying that you “went out into town” and instead state exactly where you went. If the addict asks why you were searching through the bedroom, state exactly what you were looking for instead of saying you were “just looking for something.” These concrete statements reduce the risk of the addict misinterpreting the situation and formulating a false theory about what you were doing. You must also remember to be consistent and honest when interacting with a paranoid family member. If the paranoid person finds that you have lied to him or her, it sets the foundation for future accusations.

Remembering Your Personal Needs

It can be easy to get wrapped up in helping an addict and solving his or her problems. While it is important to provide support for addicted family members, you must also consider your own needs. This includes maintaining personal health and acknowledging the need for leisurely activities. Additionally, if you worry that your family member’s paranoia could be harmful to you, it must be taken seriously. There are many support groups and programs available to help family members of addicts.

Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatments for addiction.

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