September 10, 2019
Q: My husband drinks too much but refuses to get help. What can I do?
A: While you may have heard – and believed – there is little you can do, we as loved one coaches wholeheartedly disagree.
It’s important to know there are usually commitment laws in place that can legally force someone to get help for addiction and other serious mental health conditions. Having said that, you generally can’t effectively force your spouse to take action.
You can, however, learn some effective techniques to positively motivate your husband to change. They are proven behavioral techniques that have a positive effect on you, too. And you may find them easier to implement because they’re based in kindness and compassion.
The techniques we help loved ones develop and apply are based on principles of rewarding positive change and attachment, rather than punishing and detachment. For example, you can try using positive reinforcement when your husband cuts back on his drinking or engages in other healthy behaviors.
Focusing on your own physical and mental health is another incredibly important step to this wellness process. Many loved ones have neglected their own wellbeing for extended periods of time because they're so consumed by addiction’s role in their lives. Often, as loved ones start to get well, their unwell family member makes progress, too.
It may seem counterintuitive to examine your behaviors in light of the problem at hand. You’re not the one with the problem, right? It can be difficult to look at your own patterns. But if you do, you might start to recognize situations where your previous approaches were misguided or unlikely to produce the results you wanted. Perhaps it’s time for some new strategies.
This is usually a process demanding patience and practice – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It starts with trying some new, positive communication approaches. When you’re frustrated, you might feel like giving him the cold shoulder or issuing threats, but these are rarely effective. Tough love or allowing him to hit bottom are seldom helpful strategies, and can sometimes be dangerous.
The goal is to reduce conflict and tension so he’ll be more open to hearing you eventually taking steps to make a change. Even if they’re small steps, he’ll still be moving in the right direction.
Your quality of life is so important. I encourage you to get started as soon as possible. If you’d like more information on loved one coaching, please don’t hesitate to contact us.