Encouraging Loved Ones to Accept Treatment for Addiction
Addiction is sometimes referred to as a ‘family disease’ because it isn’t just the person engaging in the substance abuse who is affected. Loved ones suffer directly due to the behaviour of this individual (e.g. neglect and abuse), and also because they have to watch powerlessly as someone they care about destroys their life. It can feel like an impossible situation, and the only hope is that this person will later become open to the idea of an addiction recovery programme.
The Need to Hit Rock Bottom
If you are looking for help for your loved one’s addiction problem, you have likely come across advice emphasising the necessity of hitting rock bottom. This is the point at which those caught up in addiction have suffered so much they become willing to change. It is important to understand that hitting rock bottom is not the same as saying people needs to lose everything before they can quit. Some of us can have a high rock bottom where we became willing to change even though we had lost relatively little.
All hitting rock bottom really means is that the person reaches the conclusion that ‘enough is enough – no more’. Some people are helped to see what is in store for them if they continue on the path they are on, and this can be enough to trigger hitting rock bottom. One of the worst things your loved can do is to continue drinking or using drugs in the hope of reaching a stage when stopping will become easy – hitting rock bottom is not a stage, it is a decision.
Why it is Not Wrong to Pressurise People into Going to Rehab?
If you try to convince your loved one to choose drug or alcohol addiction treatment, this person may resist using the justification of ‘not being ready’. This excuse is based on a faulty understanding of what it means to hit rock bottom. It is definitely a good sign if a person is enthusiastic about going to rehab from the beginning, but there are also plenty of examples of those who felt pressurised into going and only became committed to change after being in the program for a few days or even weeks.
Resistance to addiction treatment is part of the denial. Even after people become willing to admit that they have a problem, they can still cling to the belief that they don’t need any help to change. Overcoming an addiction alone can be incredibly difficult, so this insistence on going it alone can sometimes be a death sentence. This is why pressurising your loved one into going to rehab is not wrong and it can be just what this person needs.
If the person you are trying to help is strongly resistant to addiction help, you need to be careful about when you bring the topic up. Don’t get into this type of discussion when your loved one is still intoxicated. The best time to mention something like rehab is when this individual is feeling remorseful over bad behaviour or is feel ill due to a bad hangover. Even those who are normally extremely resistance to addiction treatment are likely to have moments when they are more open to the idea.
If you are having difficulties in encouraging your friend, partner family member or colleague to seek professional assistance then contact
DRAGONFLY INTERVENTIONS who can assist in the process of guiding the troubled individual towards a safe place for psychological assistance.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process