Denial is a key characteristic of addiction. Most addicts believe that they have everything under control. If you’ve already made an effort to talk to your loved one about addiction, they’ve probably assured you that they can limit their drug use or stop using entirely whenever they want. Although these assertions can be incredibly frustrating, they’re also a sure sign that your friend or family member needs help.
But how can you get someone to accept help when they aren’t willing to admit that they need it? This is one of the biggest challenges that families face when attempting to throw their loved one’s lifelines. The good news is that there are several strategies you can use to make rehab the most appealing choice. There are also ways to redefine your role in an addict’s life so that you aren’t at risk of co-dependency, enabling behaviors, or sacrificing your own needs and happiness for theirs.
The Consequences of Addiction
Drug addiction and alcoholism are recognized as being family diseases. Everyone in the home is affected by it. Addiction destroys trust, forces people to move their personal boundaries, creates anxiety, and causes trauma. In some instances, the negative effects that addiction has on personal relationships are permanent. The longer that addicts wait to seek treatment, and the longer that family members wait to protect themselves, the more devastating the consequences can ultimately be.
For addicts, heavy and long-term substance use can have a vast range of consequences. People who abuse drugs or alcohol often deal with:
- Job loss
- Housing loss
- Legal issues
- The loss of all meaningful relationships
Ongoing substance use also causes a significant decline in both physical and mental health. Over time, many addicts undergo marked personality changes and equally startling changes in their appearances. Prolonged substance use frequently advances the aging process, diminishes oral health, and sets the stage for serious and potentially fatal health issues such as:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
Many substances also have a long-term impact on both brain health and brain functioning. Surprisingly, long-term alcoholics are prone to developing several forms of semi-permanent to permanent brain damage, and most long-term drinkers experience considerable changes in their actual brain sizes. Ultimately, when left unchecked, the effects of addiction can be downright devastating.
Getting Someone Into Rehab
There are several ways to get a person into rehab. Determining which of these works best for your loved one’s personality and the situation is key to success. Some people are naturally opposed to being forced to do anything. For these individuals, even efforts to get them to do something that they recognize as being good for themselves will send them running in the opposite direction. Moreover, even when they’re in denial, addicts often have a clear sense that they’re increasingly losing control over their lives. Attempting to assert control over their health decisions by forcing them into rehab frequently proves counterproductive.
One of the first steps towards helping your loved one is identifying ways in which you might be supporting or enabling their addiction. For instance, enablers often:
- Provide addicts with money
- Cover up or make excuses for their substance abuse
- Clean up addicts’ messes
Recognizing the difference between helping someone and enabling them is vital. If you’re doing anything for your family member that they could easily do for themselves while sober, this is enabling. Consider taking advantage of addiction treatment services for the family members of addicts. With counseling, you’ll learn more about the nature of addiction as a chronic, lifelong mental health issue. You’ll also learn about enabling behaviors and how to put them to a stop, and how to support and encourage an addict who’s in need of treatment without using manipulation, guilt, or other negative devices.
Sometimes, the best way to convince an addict to go to rehab is by cutting off all unnecessary support. If you aren’t financing their drug use or covering up their mistakes, they’ll have to start facing the consequences of their actions on their own. For family members, this is the process of setting firm boundaries. As addicts move closer to their personal “rock bottoms”, getting treatment increasingly seems like the best possible option.
Do They Want Help?
Getting your loved one into treatment is really only half the battle. In fact, the idea of forcing someone to go to treatment is incredibly misleading. Rehab doesn’t offer treatments that unfailingly “fix” addicts. Instead, it provides people who actually want to recover with the skills and tools they need to succeed. People in recovery must be committed to their own success. They have to be willing to make the effort to get well and stay that way.
Surprisingly, however, when people are allowed to face the consequences of their own actions, they usually realize how truly miserable they are. No one actually enjoys facing financial, legal, professional, and personal struggles. When addicts have enablers in their lives who keep them comfortable in their addictions, they never really have the opportunity to recognize the amount of loss that their substance use is causing. If your family member is actively refusing treatment and seems to be quite content with the life that they’ve created, setting boundaries and stepping aside may be the best choice. This is referred to as loving detachment. Although you’ll no longer hold a supporting or enabling role in their addiction, you can always be at hand if they choose to take action to help themselves.
Are You Trying to Force Them to Go?
Whether you’re dealing with a minor child, an adult child, a spouse, or even an elderly parent who’s struggling with addiction, there are ways to force this individual into rehab. Depending upon where you live, two options that you may be able to pursue are court-ordered rehab and emergency hospitalization.
With court-ordered rehab, you’ll have the burden of proving to the courts that your loved one will be in jeopardy without treatment. In most locations, getting a court order for rehab starts by filling out a form at a local courthouse. This form will be reviewed by a judge and a hearing will be scheduled. Your child or other family members can plead their case. Among some of the challenges that you might face when seeking court-ordered rehab are getting your loved one to actually show up in court and staging a sufficiently convincing argument to get the judge to rule in your favor. Moreover, when this tactic isn’t absolutely necessary, it can create a lasting rift in your relationship, diminish trust, and make your family member feel betrayed.
Emergency hospitalization is a step towards forced rehab when people have to be hospitalized as a result of drug or alcohol abuse. In these instances, aging adults, minor children, and others will likely be evaluated by mental health and rehab professionals during their medical treatment. In some instances, patients who’ve self-harmed through substance abuse are also evaluated by law enforcement officers. If emergency hospitalization does not lead to involuntary commitment, documentation of these events can support your efforts to get court-ordered rehab.
Is Forcing Them Into Rehab Effective
Even people who are desperate to free themselves from the bonds of addiction are at risk of relapsing. As a chronic mental health issue, addiction requires dedicated, ongoing efforts to make recovery a top priority. When a person is forced into rehab, dedication, motivation, and a general desire to get well are often missing. Thus, using tactics to force your loved one into treatment is really only advisable as a life-saving measure. In fact, in all states that legally allow involuntary commitment, proving that this action is actually life-saving is essential. In instances in which a person is not immediately at risk for serious self-harm, getting them to see rehab as the most appealing choice is far more effective. When people choose rehab for themselves, they are more likely to take an active role in their treatment.
What Resources Are Available?
Staging an intervention is one of the most effective ways to convince someone you love that they need help. Although interventions can be incredibly emotional, they are always most effective when they are well-planned and highly structured. Not only do key people in an addict’s life have the ability to detail how addiction has negatively impacted their lives, but they’re also able to set boundaries and offer treatment as an alternative.
You are not in this alone. You can work with:
- Addiction counselors and family therapists
- Intervention specialists
- Support groups for family members of addicts
and more. You cannot choose when or why a person decides to seek help for themselves. However, you can always reach out to get the help and support you need right now.
How Can You Start the Process?
Education is the best start to helping an addicted loved one. It is important to understand that addiction isn’t a matter of laziness, selfishness, or failed willpower. It is a disease. As such, addicts cannot and should not be badgered, bullied, or guilt-tripped into taking action. It’s also a good idea to seek therapy for yourself. Living with and loving an addict takes a toll. Therapy for family members of addicts will help you deal with the stress, anxiety, and trauma that addiction has caused in your life. It will also help you establish a solid plan for staging an intervention, setting boundaries, and offering ongoing support.
At our rehab in Mississippi, we offer evidence-based addiction treatment. Our clients have access to inpatient and outpatient programs, and a comprehensive partial hospitalization program. We also provide medically assisted detox services and a diverse range of options in aftercare support. If your loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. Call us today to speak with one of our admissions counselors.