Addiction is a family disease, meaning that the negative impact of substance use disorder and addiction is devastating not only for the individual in active addiction but also their family members and loved ones. Watching a child, a parent, or a spouse that you love and care about battle addiction can be incredibly difficult and painful. Family members are heartbroken watching their loved one struggle with drugs and alcohol, especially if that family member in active addiction refuses to accept that they have a problem or seek help. Convincing a loved one to seek help through addiction treatment and rehab can be a very challenging and emotional process, but it is often an essential step towards finding recovery. Most people do not come to the conclusion that they need detox or rehab on their own, but rather it is through the love, compassion, and urging of a loved one or an entire family unit that they finally recognize the need for help, and ultimately take steps towards seeking a solution.
The first step in convincing a loved one to go to addiction treatment or rehab is to seek education and understanding about addiction for yourself (or if it is a family needing to help their addicted loved one, education and understanding for the entire family unit.) Learn about the signs and symptoms of addiction, the risks, and the consequences that can occur due to the addiction as well as due to not seeking treatment. Learn about the various types of rehab programs that exist and are available. Some of this education can be learned online, but most often it is best to seek out information and education through a professional well-versed in dealing with such cases, like a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, interventionist, family recovery support professional, family friend in recovery, or through various options like Al-Anon, family support meetings, or groups for loved ones with an addicted loved ones ran by a clinician in the local area. By gaining knowledge about addiction and treatment, the family will be better equipped and educated to approach the conversation with their addicted loved one in a knowledgeable, empathetic and compassionate way.
Second, it is important to plan the approach to the addicted loved one. Plan to approach the conversation in a non-judgmental and compassionate way. Avoid blaming or shaming the addicted individual, as they have certainly enough self-blame, shame, and guilt themselves. Blaming or shaming your loved one may cause them to get agitated, angry, defensive, and ultimately resistant to hearing anything you may say or from seeking help at all. Instead, make sure to express your love for them, your concern for their well-being, and objectively state the impact their addiction is having on their life and the lives of their family and those that love them. Use facts and behaviors, but also use emotions and feelings. Share specific examples of how their addiction has impacted you, hurt you, and made you feel. Let them know they are loved and that you see them as a person separate from their disease of addiction. Unless you have suffered from addiction yourself and are now living in recovery, never try to tell them that you know how they feel, but you can discuss your fears about their addiction, and try to compassionately identify with feelings they may be having, such as fear, discomfort, loneliness, and sadness. Make sure to express to them how much you care for them, love them, want them to find contentment and happiness, and that you don’t blame them for not being able to overcome this alone. Let them know that you are proud of them for seeking help, and that it is okay to need to seek help through a detox, rehab, or addiction treatment center to begin to overcome their addiction.
Specific examples of why your loved one needs help may be beneficial to share and helpful in convincing them that they need help and to seek treatment. Some examples can include how their addiction, their behaviors, their actions, and their attitudes have affected you and other family members, how those things made you feel, and how you see it effecting other areas of their life. Mentioning things like legal issues, relationship issues, or employment issues can be helpful. Try to stick to facts, such as pointing out how they have lost a job or been at trouble at work directly because of their addiction or alcoholism, or how they’ve been arrested or received a DUI or DWI. You can also explain how their actions have impacted the way you view them, such as due to certain actions you now have a hard time trusting them, or because of certain actions you feel you have been let down or can’t count on them. Sharing these types of experiences and examples can help your loved one understand the severity of the situation and the need for professional help and intervention.
Hopefully your loved one will offer some authenticity and clarity, admitting the need for help. At this point, it should be okay to discuss rehab or addiction treatment options with them, all the while making sure to emphasize that detox or treatment is not a punishment but rather an opportunity for growth and healing. Also make sure to emphasize the benefits of going to rehab, including getting their physical and mental health on track, the opportunity to develop healthier coping skills and mechanisms, education about preventing relapse, and the chance to rebuild or repair damaged personal and professional relationships. Make sure to also point out how seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and that because they are dealing with a disease there is no shame in admitting that they need help to overcome their addiction. Emphasis a lack of judgement and a hope that all you want is to see them happy and well.
However, there is the possibility that your loved one still may be resistant or hesitant to seek help via detox or rehab. If you believe his might be the case, it can be helpful to enlist the help of other family members or close friends. Often, if their addiction is a well-known issue, their boss, employer or work colleagues may be all too happy to help try to convince them to get professional help and go to addiction treatment. Speaking with family members and other stakeholders will often help in coming to a consensus if the thought is the person in active addiction will dig in and refuse to get help or possibly become combative during the conversation. In that case, it can be extremely beneficial to engage with an outside, objective professional such as a drug and alcohol interventionist, who can help support and guide you and the other loved ones through the conversation. Interventionists are also helpful in deciding on a clinically appropriate rehab or treatment program to make sure your loved one’s needs will be met while they are receiving care. There is a power in a group coming together and having multiple stakeholders express love, concern, and support for the person in active addiction.
Ultimately, the decision to accept help and go to detox or rehab is always up to the loved one suffering from addiction, however being educated and prepared for “the talk” and bringing together a supportive group of people to all address the issue is often the best way to try to help convince them to seek treatment. Being compassionate, empathetic, and supportive during the process is key, and can increase the likelihood that your loved one will choose to seek help and go to treatment. If they hopefully do make that decision to get better and make a transformational change in their life, continue to provide them with encouragement, support, compassion, and love throughout their treatment and recovery journey. Make sure to engage in the family aspect that should occur while they are in treatment, including family therapist sessions and calls with their therapist and the treatment team. It will also be helpful for loved ones to seek out their own help to begin processing the impact of their loved one’s addiction, such as talking with a therapist or counselor or attending group support meetings like Al-Anon. Your loved one knowing and seeing you participate in your own process and your own family recovery will provide them clarity of the impact of their addiction and help provide motivation for them to continue their treatment and recovery process.
Convincing a loved one to go to drug and alcohol detox or rehab can certainly be a challenging and emotional process. However, by getting educated and approaching the situation with love, compassion, lack of judgement, and support, there is a good chance that your loved one will agree to seek the help they desperately need. Remember that addiction is a disease and your loved one needs professional help and support to overcome it. By appropriately approaching and supporting them, you can play an invaluable role in aiding them to seek that help, go to detox or seek addiction treatment, and continue to support them as they achieve sobriety and seek a fulfilling life in recovery.
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.