What to Do When Your Loved One Won’t Go to Treatment
The scene is all too familiar for many families. Someone desperately needs help to stop abusing drugs or Alcohol, but he or she simply won’t stop. The individual perhaps doesn’t recognize the harm the substance abuse is causing or he or she simply does not think they can function without their substance of choice. Regardless of why your loved one refuses to stop the situation can be extremely painful.
The first thing you need to do when you have a loved one in the grips of addiction is to educate yourself about the disease. Addiction is classified as a mental illness, characterized by compulsive substance seeking and using, continuing to use despite negative consequences, as well as cravings and a host of other symptoms.
Distorted thinking is a significant issue when dealing with anyone in active addiction. You may see the situation as clear and compelling, however the magnitude of the delusions and thought distortions may make communicating with an addicted individual exceptionally difficult.
Your loved one may not see the problems with using and problems with his or her behavior. You need to understand how the disease of addiction works against those who have it in order to help your loved one and protect yourself. There is a wealth of information online, however, you may want to speak to an addiction specialist to discuss your particular situation and navigate how best to handle it.
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Convey Your Love & Concern by Hosting an Intervention
An intervention is the best way to communicate the desperate need for your loved one to stop using. Interventions vary widely in size, style and school of thought. Finding the best intervention method for your family doesn’t have to be difficult.
The importance of staging an intervention cannot be measured. The gathering of people together to communicate serious concern and love to another can have an enormous impact on that person. He or she may grasp the severity of the problem or may not change his or her view at all.
Interventions have a good track record for getting people into treatment, but not everyone is ready at the time of his or her intervention. This grand event may not work immediately. Generally, however, they tend to have a significant impact eventually, if not immediately.
If your loved one does not respond the way you would like to an intervention, do not give up hope. Getting someone to see the folly and harm that is substance abuse is a process, and a long one at that.
Make sure you are clear, honest and firm in implementing the consequences of not going into treatment during the intervention. Arguing with your loved one is also useless as he or she is not thinking clearly and the consequences of continuing to use should not be up for debate.
Addiction is a Family Disease: Protect Yourself with Healthy Boundaries
There are things you should do in the event of your loved one refuses the advice given during an intervention.
The first thing you should do is enforce healthy boundaries that protect you and those you take care of. The realization that your loved one is not going to stop using is devastating. However, you can’t let him or her negatively influence yourself or anyone else close to you.
The parameters of these healthy boundaries vary between individuals. They may include only meeting with your addicted loved one in restaurants because he or she is no longer allowed in your home. This can be a great idea if your loved one has stolen from you or others in the past to fuel his or her using habit.
Other healthy boundaries may include a way to prevent your loved one from trying to guilt or swindle money from you. Or perhaps it means you see your loved one only occasionally.
If necessary, walk away from the situation altogether. If your loved one is refusing to stop using and refusing your healthy suggestions or help, then helping him or her will only be aiding in the furtherance of using.
To find the best way to protect yourself from your loved one, consider consulting a therapist who understands addiction. A professional will understand the needs on both sides and be able to lay out a plan of action for you and your family.
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Finding the Support You Need: Support Groups for the Loved Ones of the Addicted Individual
Another fantastic resource for anyone with a friend or family member in active addiction or recovery is a support group.
There are a host of support groups to choose from. Alcoholics Anonymous has a sister 12-step program for close relations of the addicted person called Al-Anon. Narcotics Anonymous has a similar program called Nar-Anon. Other 12-step fellowships also have programs for loved ones of the addicted person.
These support groups are a great way to learn about the disease of addiction from those who have lived it as well as find support and guidance for how to best handle your own situation.
You will get a clear understanding of how such recovery programs work and what your loved one needs to do in order to get and stay clean and sober.
For more information about how support groups can help you through this difficult time, see ABTRS’s guide to support groups.
Overcoming the Enabling Behavior: Enabling Does Not Convey Love
Of course you want to help, however, make sure that you discuss what your doing with someone else to make sure you are not unwittingly furthering your loved one’s using. Understanding the difference between support and enabling is crucial to your helping your loved one.
Enabling factors are those that allow your loved one to continue using. By enabling him or her, you are helping your loved one continue to use.
The most common enabling method is monetary support. Maybe you are paying your loved one’s bills, such as rent or electricity. By providing the financing for such things you may allow your loved one to put more money towards drugs or alcohol. He or she may also have to work less and therefore be less accountable since you are providing financial support that is enabling negative behaviors.
Another enabling factor might be allowing your loved one to live at home. Even if your addicted loved one is your child, allowing him or her to remain at home and use is enabling. Such a situation would change depending on the age of your loved one. For instance, if he or she is in college then living elsewhere should be encouraged whereas someone who is using at a younger age should be helped in a different way.
However, paying rent for your loved one to live in a sober living facility is not enabling. As long as the sober living is credible and requires that its residents remain sober, your financial support is also supporting a healthy lifestyle.
Get the Right Type of Treatment that Suits Your Loved One’s Needs
Remember, You Do Not Have to Do This Alone
Respecting Your Personal Boundaries: Remember What You Can’t Do for Your Addicted Loved One
Perhaps the situation becomes clearer when you remember what you cannot do for your loved one. The biggest thing to know and remember is that you cannot make him or her quit. No amount of pressure or consequences will cause your loved one to quit. He or she must realize that there is a problem with substances and that the using must stop.
If your loved one has stopped using or is in rehab, remember that you cannot work your loved one’s program of sobriety. You cannot carry the person through this phase—he or she must do the work, put in the effort and care about his or her future in recovery for him or herself.
You also cannot accept any behavior that violates your healthy boundaries. If your loved one is creating havoc within your life, you can’t help him or her as well. Think of the safety measures recommended when on an airplane—first get your oxygen mask situated, then tend to others.
All of this is easier said than done, of course. Watching someone you love spiral downwards due to addiction is one of the hardest things to witness. Removing enabling factors and setting clear and healthy boundaries helps you and your loved one.
They say if you want to finally reach rock bottom, stop digging. By removing yourself as a resource from your addicted loved one, he or she will have to find other ways of getting his or her substance of choice. You won’t continue to be hurt while this happens and your loved one is more likely to tire of the hustle quicker without your help to easy the situation.
Though it sounds cruel to suggest removing yourself from your loved one’s life to varying degrees, sometimes it is exactly what he or she needs to get motivated to get sober.
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Realizing that you have a substance abuse problem is nerve wrecking. Many people do not feel comfortable discussing their heroin addiction with their doctor in fear of feeling shame or being thrown in jail. Because of that stigma associated with addiction, finding unbiased information that you can trust in is important to ABTRS.
Making that decision to change your life should come from a place of knowledge. When it comes to substance abuse treatment, our patients and their families need reliable resources that are unbiased and proven or tested to be effective. Checkout the list below to learn more about where ABTRS got their information for this webpage.
NIDA. (2018, June 8). Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin on 2019, February 26
NIDA. (2018, June 7). Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin on 2019, February 26
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 18-4742PT4. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2018.