Although it can be difficult, there are ways to get your loved one into treatment, even if they don’t think they want it.
How to Convince a Loved One to Get Drug or Alcohol Treatment
One of the most helpless situations you can be in is watching a loved one battle a drug or alcohol addiction. Addiction doesn’t just destroy the person who is addicted; it can ruin their relationships, friendships, career, and family. In fact, addiction is often called a family disease because it doesn’t just affect the addicted.
As a drug addiction or alcohol addiction progresses, the effects it has on family and friends only worsen. Addicts often start fights, whether verbal or physical, betray and steal from you, and sometimes even pawn items of importance for drug money. All of these things can inflict pain on the loved ones.
There comes a point when the family knows it’s time to seek out professional alcohol treatment or drug treatment programs. But how exactly do you convince someone to get treatment? If they haven’t listened to you before, you may wonder, what will make them listen to you now?
Although it is difficult to force someone to get the treatment they often don’t think they want, there are things you can do to encourage them and get them to admit themselves to an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program.
Can You Force Someone to Get Drug or Alcohol Treatment?
The short answer is yes, you can. But it’s complicated..
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, an estimated 22.7 million Americans, or 8.6% of the population needed drug abuse or alcohol abuse treatment in 2013. Only 2.5 million Americans or 0.9% of the population received treatment at a rehab facility. The significant treatment gap itself speaks for how easy it is to force someone to go to a drug treatment program.
Unless you are the parent or guardian of a minor, it can be difficult to legally force a loved one to get alcohol treatment or drug addiction treatment. There are 38 states that allow some variety of involuntary alcohol treatment and drug abuse treatment for people who are a danger to themselves or others. But the criteria for court-ordered treatment varies by state, and it can often be a long, time-consuming process to get through the courts. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice. If court-ordered rehabilitation is a route you’re interested in, we suggest seeking professional legal counsel.
What You CAN Do to Help Your Loved One Get Drug or Alcohol Treatment
Although involuntary commitment can be uncommon, there are things you can do to help convince your loved one to seek drug or alcohol treatment. In fact, Partnership for Drug Free Kids found that most people who do seek out treatment do so because of outside forces such as interventions, the threat of losing something or someone, and more.
The process starts with yourself because one of the biggest hurdles as a friend or family member is understanding what the addict is thinking and going through.
There is only so much that a non-addict can understand about addiction because they don’t experience the same chemical change in the brain that an addict does when using their substance of choice. Non-addicts can have a few drinks and be fine. An addict has to keep drinking to keep up with the need for endorphins. Addicts can’t just stop. And that is one of the most important things to understand.
Some of the things you can do to improve your overall understanding of addiction as a disease are:
- Attend local Al-Anon or Nar-Anon groups
- Read literature from rehab programs, local support groups, and online sources
- Learn about the disease concept
- Talk to a professional about your situation
Having a better understanding of addiction will help bring peace and serenity back into your life, which will help you approach your addict in a way that will help them.
Don’t Wait for Rock Bottom
One of the most common misconceptions about addiction and drug treatment programs is the idea that an addict has to hit rock bottom before they can find sobriety. While many recovering addicts did reach that point, it’s not the rule. Some addicts might need to hit rock bottom, but don’t count on that or wait for it to happen before you try to intervene. The life of an addict can spiral out of control rapidly, ruining major aspects of their life such as financials, legal situations, family matters, friendships, and more. The sooner they get drug or alcohol treatment, the better.
Detach with Love
One of the most common phrases you will hear as a loved one of an addict is “detach with love.” Whether you are the parent, friend, spouse, child, or grandparent of an addict, there is always a feeling of responsibility when watching the addiction overtake their lives. You are not responsible. When you can come to terms with that, you can detach with love.
There is a thin line between enabling and helping. An addict cannot come to terms with their disease if they are overprotected or enabled. When an addict gets into financial trouble, as their loved one, your gut instinct may be to bail them out. Detaching with love means taking care of yourself and recognizing that you cannot enable that pattern of behavior, no matter how much you love that person. Keep loving them, and keep supporting them in healthy ways, but don’t sacrifice your well-being to keep them afloat.
Detaching with love is not something that happens overnight, and it’s often one of the hardest things the addict’s loved ones have to do. Attending support groups, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon family groups, can help you with detachment.
Hold an Intervention
When you are ready to step in and try to get your loved one to attend a drug treatment program, holding an intervention is one of the most common ways to go about it. The goal of an intervention is twofold. First, you need to show and tell the addict in your life how addiction is not only impacting them, but also the people in their life. And then you need to provide clear options and support for them to get help.
It’s extremely important to be prepared when holding an intervention. Be ready to answer difficult questions and objections such as:
- It’s too expensive
- It won’t work (this is common for people who have tried rehab before)
- I’ll lose my job
- I can’t take the time off
- My family needs me at home
While some of these objections may be understandable, the goal is to help your loved one see the long-term benefits of drug or alcohol treatment and how that trumps the short-term inconveniences.
An intervention is also a great time to set boundaries that help you detach with love. For example, if you’re tired of supporting your loved one’s habit through financial assistance, let them know that if they continue using or drinking you will no longer pay their bills.
It can be difficult to stand your ground while also showing your loved one that they’re on your side. For that reason, consider seeking professional help from a counselor/therapist or someone experienced with interventions.
Don’t Give Up
Even if your first intervention fails, make sure you follow through with the boundaries you set. This is crucial to helping your loved one realize that you are serious and that their current lifestyle is not sustainable. Your loved one’s reaction may be angry and even irrational, but standing your ground is important to your well-being and their long-term future.
Finally, plan to try again. Sometimes, it takes multiple interventions to convince someone to get drug or alcohol treatment. A professional interventionist may be able to help you find ways to get better results next time.
Find the Right Treatment Program
Plan for your intervention to work, and be prepared to admit your loved one to a specific alcohol or drug treatment program. Choose carefully and have all the information handy to help ease some of your loved one’s fears.
Not all facilities and treatments are the same. For example, some people prefer faith-based alcohol or drug treatment programs, and others don’t. Some people want TVs and internet access; others want to be disconnected. Finding the best facility, program, and amenities for your loved one can ease some of the anxiety and nerves about going away to a residential rehab.
We’re Here To Help
Don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional interventionist or guidance from drug and alcohol treatment experts, like those at Daylight Recovery Services. Our goal is to help addicts and their loved ones recover from the family disease of addiction. If you need help convincing a loved one to get treatment, reach out to our staff anytime.