When you see a loved one—family or friend—destroying themselves and others around them due to a substance abuse problem, it can feel like the worst thing in the world because you feel absolutely helpless. Addiction is a disease that will take hold of an individual—and continue to rip that person apart—if it is not properly treated. In the end, the person has nothing else to give, often not even their life.
Most people that are suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction are unable to stop the problem on their own. They need professional assistance from a drug and alcohol rehab and everything that comes with that, such as detoxification, counseling, support groups, group therapy, and even post-rehab care.
Even with all of that information in your head, it can be frustrating, confusing, and everything in between to know how you can get from Point A (your loved one’s life now) to Point B (a life of sobriety for your loved one). You probably aren’t sure what to say (or not to say) or do (or not to do), as it could potentially have an impact—positive or negative—on your loved one.
With that being said, here are a few dos and don’ts that will help you navigate a conversation about going to rehab with your alcohol- or drug-addicted loved one.
Don’t Listen to Whatever Everyone Else Says
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Ace, there are 10 percent of adults in America that consider themselves to be in recovery for drugs or alcohol. This means that the majority of people that you come in contact with either has or knows someone who has (or had) a problem with alcohol or drugs. Because of this, you are going to receive a wealth of unsolicited, yet free, advice—though it is well-intentioned, the majority of the advice will not be suited to your individual situation.
As with most things, there is so much misinformation out there, and if you take it to heart, it could result in your efforts to get your loved one into rehab being significantly reduced.
Do Educate Yourself on the Addiction Disease
If you plan on helping your disease-stricken loved one, it is crucial that you familiarize yourself with the disease that they are dealing with. Gather as much literature as you can and read it. Attend local addiction support groups. Reach out to a professional about your individual situation and find ways to cope at home, such as journaling. Keep in mind that you need to make sure that you have control over your own life before you ever start trying to help someone else that doesn’t have control over theirs.
Don’t Nag or Beg Your Loved One to Stop Using or Drinking
When you are constantly nagging or begging your loved one to stop abusing drugs or drinking alcohol, it is essentially like talking to a brick wall. Most often, individuals are enablers of their loved one’s addiction. Your loved one has made promises to you, but they have failed to keep them, yet you have always been right there to take care of the mess and pick them up. So, ultimately, why should they listen to you?
Do Hold an Intervention
An intervention can truly be one of the most effective tools that you can utilize during the convincing process. When someone’s entire network—partner, parents, siblings, children, and others—get together to let the addict know how his or her actions are negatively impacting their lives, it can be more motivating than you can believe.
Addicts are generally in denial. They self-centeredly and blithely continue their daily lives without caring—and sometimes not even knowing—how destructive they are being. With an intervention, it is virtually impossible for your loved one to have any level of apathy.
Don’t Judge or Blame the Addict
Because of the disruptive influence that addiction has on a person, there will be some poor life decisions made—some of which can be dangerous. Since you are close to the individual, you will typically suffer the most, including embarrassment, lost money, infidelity, as well as physical or emotional abuse.
If you want to help your loved one, then those consequences that you have suffered through will need to be set aside while you are attempting to convince your loved one to get the help he or she needs and deserves. You must be able to distinguish the difference between the disease and the actual person. Don’t badger them about their mistakes or how those mistakes have affected you in life; simply work toward getting them to get professional help for their addiction.
Do Remain Strong by Giving Love and Support
While it is important that your loved one understands how his or her disease is hurting themselves and others around them, it is just as important—if not more so—to provide your loved one with plenty of love and support. You need to make sure that your loved one realizes that anything you say to him or her is purely out of love, but the uncertainty and consequences caused by his or her addiction can no longer be tolerated moving forward.
Consider making a list of all the ways that you have been affected by your loved one’s addiction to drugs or alcohol. Keep in mind that this is not to punish him or her or make your loved one feel bad, but it is to help create an emotional connection that will prompt him or her into entering rehab.
Don’t Forget to Plan
Planning is crucial with just about everything nowadays, and it is no different when dealing with an addict, especially when it comes to the intervention. Interventions can get really high on emotions, which makes it easier to get off track. Ideally, an intervention is not meant to be a negative experience—it should be a positive one.
To help ensure things go as smoothly as possible, you need thorough preparation. This includes everything from which friends and family members should be at the intervention and the selection of a safe, neutral location to an outline of the potential consequences if the addict refuses to receive help and pre-registration at a drug rehab facility.
Do Use a Professional Interventionist
You can hold an intervention all on your own, but it is recommended that you get professional help. Things that you may not consider due to being emotionally invested or inexperienced will be taken into account by a professional. He or she can plan, manage, and then execute every single step throughout the process.
Plus, an expert has a mental health background, which can come in handy when things get out of control—and he or she will be unbiased, dispassionate, and nonjudgmental. A professional won’t e emotionally invested like you, which allows him or her to maintain a cool head should the situation get heated at some point in time.
An individual who is suffering with an addiction to drugs or alcohol must make a conscious choice to enter into rehab and begin a journey to recovery. While this may be true, it doesn’t have to be his or her idea. Regardless of whether the intervention helps your loved one see the right path to take, it doesn’t matter—as long as he or she is agreeing to seek treatment from a professional. There are many steps involved in the recovery process and getting them to rehab — even through intervention—is part of it.
Once your loved one has entered into a professional drug or alcohol rehab facility, he or she will begin the detoxification process and receive counseling and therapy in multiple forms. He or she will also learn a variety of tools that he or she will need to live a clean and sober life after rehab.
If you need more information, contact our staff at Shadow Mountain Recovery.