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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

Treatment for AddictionAddicts 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.

Outcome

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

5 Comments

  • Gina M

    This is so helpful and makes so much sense! I have been watching a situation with a friend where she is slowly getting worse and I have been constantly bugging her about getting help, all the while she is in complete denial and says she doesn’t have a problem. Now I understand that the situation has to come to the “rock bottom” stage first, which is a scary thought (due to the fact that there are children involved). I guess we just have to watch very closely until then and be ready at all times to intervene.

  • Angie

    This is such great advice. My neighbor recently went through something like this. With this helpful advice, his wife was able to watch him closely and figure out exactly what items made him vulnerable and what “buttons” she could push on. She ended up finding the exact item that had him ticking and was able to convince him to get help with a 30 day inpatient treatment program! Thank you so much for putting this advice out there.

  • Amanda

    This is an awesome article! It really breaks down the different things to look for and to watch out for when holding an intervention. That can be very scary to watch someone dwindle to the bottom before you try to intervene. It can be a knife-edge with that, but I can see why that would be the best point to try to handle. The person has no real reason to look and admit that they could have a problem. A person on drugs cannot see that effects they are creating and handled them appropriately. But if you need help on your intervention, then ensure you get expert help.

  • Jonathan

    I really like this article. It gives hope to that of a person who is in connection with a person that is on drugs and it really hits home with reality on how the person is probably feeling.

    Wow! I really like the information that the article goes over in that it empowers the person with tools on how to help the person and how to get in there to start to try and help, which is usually the hardest part to it, the getting in there and making the person realize that they are in need of change.

    A lot of these tips can even be used when trying to help a person in general, not just in getting them off of drugs.

    It makes a good point, that hurting this person’s feelings or making them aggravated by something that you say is well worth it if it ends up saving their life and getting them straight and narrow again. A lot of other advice that I have seen is to behave in a theetie weetie manner and just easily talk to the person. I like how this article puts you in the perspective of telling and getting the person to wake up despite anything else.

    It’s also nice how it words it in a way that makes you understand that you are still being their friend by doing this, probably the biggest friend that they have at this point.

    This article is very good and highly suggested to anyone that plans on getting a friend or family member off of drugs or alcohol.

  • carcol

    Good advice. Knowing the exact right time to confront the person and who to have there when it is done is good information to have. Getting them to see how their addiction is affecting those close to them and what they potentially have to lose if they don’t get help is key. I bet I can see that if you really do care for the person and really do want to help them, you will do whatever it takes to get that done.

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