Many people who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse find it seemingly impossible to get help. There can be a ton of contributing factors that prevent the individual from seeking help, but they almost always point back to fear and ignorance. Loved ones of the addict may feel frustrated, afraid, lost, and confused on what action to take to help. These feelings may lead to emotional behaviors that ultimately create barriers to help loved ones receive the help they need.
Here are some suggestions on how to help your addicted loved one get help.
The most common way to get someone help for their addiction is to plan a family intervention. Family members may consult with a professional interventionist in order to plan for a dire plan of action. Typically each family member will convey how much they love the addicted individual and proceed with expressing their concerns and urging he/she to get help for their addiction. Suggestions may include offering partial hospitalization program (PHP) and setting firm consequences if the addict decides to refuse the gift of recovery. It is important that every family member holds strong to their boundaries and “bottom lines” in order to adequately help the addict. Hopefully the addicted loved one listens to the family’s pleas and decides to accept help.
Most people overlook this suggestion, but this is perhaps one of the most effective methods of getting help for your loved one. Ask the person struggling with addiction to list 5 reasons he/she is refusing to get help. More often than not the addict will have a long list of reasons why he/she can’t get help. Be patient, do not engage in yelling or arguing. Maintain a calm, empathetic approach to discussing the reasons why your loved one is refusing help. Avoid hostility by allowing the individual to talk. He/she may become very frustrated and defensive, but let them talk through it while you make yourself available to listen. Write their answers down on a piece of paper and be mindful that almost every answer will point back to fear, ignorance, or frustration.
Once your loved one shares their reasons for not getting help, consult with a professional or someone who has personally experienced addiction recovery on solutions to these barriers.
For example, your loved one might say “I have tried to get sober and I go back to drugs/alcohol over and over again.”
A good solution to offer for this example would be “You may have tried many times before to get sober but this time you can do everything differently and maybe this time you will get a different result.” Suggest the individual start keeping a journal. Encourage him/her to spend time daily writing down their struggles and how it make them feel. Then, suggest the individual look back over the journal and review where he/she may have gone wrong and attempt to look and see what he/she can do differently.
In regards to the fears, take a look over the list at all of the things your loved one may be fearful of. Across the page, write down every positive outcome that may be a direct result of walking through the fear and point out the delusion and self sabotaging nature of holding onto his/her fears. This may help the individual clearly see that fear is an illusion and may encourage him/her to get help. Make sure you continue to reset boundaries and stand firm to them if the individual continues to refuse help.
Fear and anxiety of potentially losing your loved one, can be overwhelming. Don’t try to walk through this alone. Lean on close family and friends during this anxious and unpredictable time. Remember only your addicted loved one can accept the help he/she needs. It is healthy to set and maintain boundaries – you are not responsible for the outcome of trying to help someone recover from addiction.