For Friends and Families
Coming to terms that a loved one can’t stop using either drugs or alcohol can be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to do. You may feel hopeless and that there’s nothing you can do, but there is hope.
Doing for Them, What They Cannot Do for Themselves
Getting a loved one into treatment can be a difficult task, especially when they are not willing to admit they have a problem. But the truth is you can get them into treatment, even when they won’t seek it themselves. The idea that for someone to find recovery in treatment, they need to enter on their own free will, has been thrown around for quite some time. Well, if we waited for every addict to be “ready” for treatment, there would be far more family and friends that didn’t make it. The hope is that, once in treatment, our loved one will begin to see the destructive, dead end path that they have been on. With their new outlook they’ll hopefully become willing to make a permanent change in their lifestyle.
Convincing a loved one to enter treatment can be extremely challenging. It may also be the only chance they get to beat their addiction.
The time to get them help is now. Here are some suggestions to follow when trying to get your loved one into treatment:
Interventions are one of the most effective means of getting a loved one into treatment. The purpose of an intervention is to show your loved one how addiction is affecting their life and the life of those around them. By no means is an intervention a guarantee that your loved one will enter treatment, but it shows them the damage and hurt they are causing in a highly impactful way.
Make a plan
Frantic, unpredictable, out of control. These are all words commonly associated with addiction. When it comes to planning an intervention, they are the last thing that should come to mind. An effective intervention means planning out exactly what you want to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish it. Deciding who will be there, and what you’re going to say, is critical in a successful intervention. Transportation directly to detox or treatment should also be coordinated prior to staging the intervention.
If your loved one refuses help it’s important for them to understand what consequences they’ll face as a result. Haphazardly throwing an intervention together is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have all the important pieces together before you decide to act, as it will yield a much higher chance of success.
Consider a professional
Beyond planning an intervention there are other aspects that may require assistance. Speaking and reasoning with your loved one when their judgement is impaired can be next to impossible. A good interventionist is equipped with the skills necessary to facilitate a productive line of communication. They are also familiar with the planning process and handling the logistics of the intervention. Hiring a professional interventionist who is trained to handle these situations, can be the difference between a successful intervention and a loved one refusing help.
The words you use during the intervention should make an impact on your loved one. It’s important to remember to use “I” statements to avoid having them feel attacked as much as possible. Stating you concerns directly can really break through and make a difference. For example: “I miss my best friend or I miss my brother” or “I’m scared that I’m going to get a phone call one day that you’re dead or in jail.”
You’re not here to tell your loved one what they should have done or what they shouldn’t have done. In fact, those kinds of statements can be perceived as an attack and are entirely unproductive. Avoid using statements such as “If you had just listened to me in the first place…” or “If you never married that girl then you wouldn’t be in this position right now.” An intervention is a time to let them know you love them, not beat them up.
Get them help ASAP
When a loved one agrees to enter into treatment, don’t delay for a minute. Having a facility lined up before the intervention is essential, as waiting any longer can mean life or death. “I’ll go tomorrow” or “I just need to get a little something for the ride” are common things you may hear. One more time can also be the last time, so getting them to treatment as soon as possible is essential.
The final decision whether or not a loved will enter treatment is ultimately in their hands. If the outcome of the intervention is that they are refusing treatment, you need to stand your ground and uphold the consequence you’ve laid out. This can be a challenge, especially for those who have been enablers throughout their loved one’s addiction. However, it’s imperative that you’re firm in your resolve to let them know how serious this is. This is where the enabling ends, once and for all.
Just because you won’t support their addiction anymore doesn’t mean you have to turn your back on your loved one. If they decide to seek recovery you should provide support and encouragement in a healthy way. Treatment centers will usually have a set of guidelines and suggestions for families and friends on how to most effectively be there for their loved one. Programs such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are also great local resources, designed specifically for families and friends of addicts and alcoholics.
Additional ways you can help your loved one:
- Get help for yourself first. It’s hard to help someone when you need help yourself.
- Provide a calm, sober environment.
- Be patient. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight.
- Be prepared for change in both your life and theirs.
- Educate yourself on recovery and addiction.
- Never enable. Although you may have good intentions, you’re only feeding their addiction when you enable them.
- Set boundaries and hold to them. It’s important they know you’re serious and if they break or push the boundaries you’ve set, there will be consequences.
- Let them know you’re there for them.
- Let them know they’re loved.
How to help yourself:
- Take time for yourself. Living with an addict can be draining, be sure to take care of yourself too.
- It’s not your fault.
- Help your loved one, but don’t do all the work for them. If you’re working harder than them, something is wrong.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help or support groups
- Avoid having conversations with your loved one when they’re under the influence.
- Try to stay positive. When your loved one sees your positivity and optimism it can be encouraging. If you’re negative, they’ll see that as well.
Getting a loved one into a drug or alcohol treatment program can be a difficult, pain-staking process. Although it can be trying and even painful at times, our loved ones are worth it. Even if we’re unsuccessful on the first try, we must never give up. You never know when you may get through to them and save their life.
If you need any help getting your loved one into treatment, please reach out to our addiction specialists. Our addiction specialists make themselves available around the clock, as to always be there for you to provide guidance and support. Because We Care. You can call us at 877-RECOVERY to speak with one of our specialists today.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”
– Robert Collier
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