It can be extremely difficult when you see the person you love choosing drugs or alcohol over everything in their life. You may look at your loved one and not even recognize them. The joy and life that used to be so present on their face has disappeared. You feel helpless and you don’t know what to do. All you know is that you want your loved one to get help and seek treatment for their addiction so they can overcome their disease and live in recovery.
by Lara Frazier
There’s a common myth that you can’t help someone struggling with addiction, until they want to help themselves. This isn’t true in every case. Many people have entered treatment and sought help out of the requests of their family and friends. Often times, the addicted person does not realize how harmful their behavior has become and how much it is hurting the people they love.
In extreme cases, when a person is absolutely insistent on not getting help or not going to treatment, an intervention may be necessary. Here are 5 ways that you can support your loved one in helping them find treatment for their addiction.
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF ON ADDICTION AND SUBSTANCE-USE DISORDER
It’s important that you understand what your loved one is suffering with – addiction does not discriminate and it affects every person differently. Some people are on the more severe side of the abuse spectrum, while others are still functioning and are able to hold a job and lead a seemingly-normal life. Just because your loved one is functioning at work or in school does not mean that they aren’t suffering from substance-use disorder. The earlier they seek help for their addiction, the better off they will be. Be sure to read as much as you can and to reach out to an addiction treatment professional for further guidance.
2. DISCUSS THE OPTION OF TREATMENT WITH YOUR LOVED ONE
Your loved one may be ashamed or embarrassed to speak to you about treatment. Two of the top reasons people are deferred from treatment is because of stigma and shame. Approach your loved one and let them know that you are ready and willing to discuss getting help for their addiction. Be direct and ask them if they are willing to get help. It’s important that they feel supported in seeking help. Sometimes people won’t reach out for help even when they desperately need it.
3. STOP ENABLING THEIR ADDICTION
If your loved one refuses treatment, it’s time that you learn how to stop enabling them. People who don’t have consequences for their addiction will not seek help. If they ask you for money, do not give it to them. If they ask you to make excuses for their missed days at school or at work, do not do it. It’s important that your loved one start facing the consequences of his or her addiction.
4. CONTINUE TO OFFER YOUR SUPPORT AND COMPASSION
It’s hard to truly understand the disease of addiction, if you have not experienced it yourself. Your loved one has likely lost the power of choice and the reward system of their brain is chasing dopamine. Addiction is a disease, but it is a treatable one. Continue to let them know that there is nothing you won’t do to help them get well. Be compassionate and understanding, but do not allow them to manipulate you into supporting their disease any further. Set firm boundaries and stick to them.
5. EXPRESS CONCERN AND TELL THEM HOW THEIR ADDICTION HAS AFFECTED YOU
If your loved one’s addiction is unmanageable and it is to the point where you no longer know what to do, it might be time to reach out to a certified interventionist. An interventionist will walk you and your family through a strategic plan in getting your loved one into treatment. It’s helpful for your loved one to know how their addiction has affected you and your family. Many times, people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol will think that their disease is not hurting anyone besides themselves. If your loved one can come to understand how their addiction has hurt you and their family or close friends, they may be more willing to seek help.
Lara Frazier is a truth-teller, a sobriety warrior and a writer. She is a FIERCE believer in the power of owning our stories and is a strong advocate for addiction recovery. Lara shares a story of healing: in sobriety, through addiction, in life and love, and in all the other big huge moments of fear and magic that we rarely talk about, but we should. Find more of Lara’s work on her website at www.larafrazier.com or follow her on Instagram @sillylara.