How Can A Loved One Be Encouraged to Get Treatment For Addiction?
Your heart is breaking and you feel helpless, maybe even hopeless. If you are a family member or other loved one of someone afflicted by an addiction problem, you are likely feeling desperate, or getting to the point of desperation.
You are not the first to feel helpless with an addicted loved one. In 2012, 23.1 million people needed treatment for substance addiction.*
If you want to help someone survive and recover from addiction, there are steps you can take to start down that path. You will feel overwhelmed at times. You will feel defeated at times. But eventually, with some planning, love and persistence, your timing can align with their vulnerability and desire to overcome their own exhaustive cycle.
Moments of Opportunity
Addicts have lost their ability to wisely perceive the danger they may be placing themselves in, every day. That is why it is important to seize the moment when your addict is feeling particularly downtrodden or defeated as the right time to spring forward with alternatives. This is often the time referred to as “rock bottom” for addicts. It is a fleeting moment, so you must act quickly to get your addict into inpatient treatment, where they will be cared for and appropriately counseled within a structured setting toward a return of good health outside of addiction.
Such moments of opportunity are when the addict has been arrested, is out of money, was left by a loved one, has lost a job, was kicked out of their home, or when they have suffered a personally traumatic event. At such times, lend an ear to their complaints about how terrible the situation is, being ready to nudge them toward inpatient treatment and recovery for relief. This nudging is often done by several trusted and loved people at once, people the addict relies upon and generally trusts. The process is often known as intervention.
Know the Addict’s Biggest Vulnerabilities
While it is painful to use words to hurt another person, particularly one seemingly at the end of his or her rope, a successful intervention relies upon consequences the addict will feel are extreme. Normal consequences to an addict, such as possible arrest, bankruptcy, health problems, or loss of income are abstracts that he or she may not fully grasp. For the purpose of nudging them toward help, mentioned consequences must be strongly felt emotional ones.
Remember what is most deeply felt by your loved one, what he or she holds most closely. Are her pets her most closely held friends? Has he or she lost a loved one to addiction or poor health in the past? Do they have a child they might lose because of their addictive behaviors? Are you, if you walk away, a potential loss to the addict? These are your biggest assets to leverage in the intervention, along with the participants who are the addict’s support system in life.
Regardless of the chosen consequences, they must be somewhat extreme. The addict cannot feel that they can talk their way out of their problems or that there is a way to manipulate others as they wish, if the intervention is to work.
Who Should Participate?
Decide who should be at your loved one’s intervention and prepare those people in advance. Put clear thought into this. These participants should be people the addict needs, loves, respects and relies upon.
Tone of the Intervention
Whoever participates in the intervention to push the addict toward inpatient treatment should be fully on board and 100 percent supportive of “help or nothing.” There cannot be arguing among members of the team and nobody should antagonize the addict. All discussions should be presented at an even tone with a united front of love and support toward treatment, or full initiation of the associated consequences.
There are only two possible outcomes to an intervention. The first is if the addict fails to accept inpatient treatment as help. That is the time that he or she must immediately see the stated consequences unfold. If you fail to hold fast to those threats, you will never again have potential power toward help.
The second potential outcome is that the addict willingly accepts help through inpatient treatment. In this case, he or she must be immediately transferred to the associated program. If you delay this, you will lose the addict again, to the cycle.
*According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention