January 11, 2019
Q: My loved one refuses to get help. What can I do?
A: As a loved one, you may be frustrated by the person in your life insisting he or she doesn’t want or need help. It’s important to remember this is a very common response from someone with the disease of addiction. Though difficult, patience is key. He or she might not be ready for help now, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never be open to it.
Before that happens, you can still show your support, offer suggestions and set boundaries with your loved one. Here are a few strategies I recommend:
- Listen and communicate (calmly). When you communicate, try to be as supportive as possible. Practice a few simple statements like: ”I believe in you,” “This isn't your fault” and “I want to help you.” Genuinely listen to your loved one, even when what they say may be painful to hear. Lastly, avoid arguments about it. Conflict tends to do more harm than good.
- Educate yourself. Learn everything you can about addiction and treatment options, if needed, in your area. Keep in mind many people are able to get better without treatment as long as they have the right kind of support.
- Get others involved. Everyone in the family should show support and understanding. Some will have an easier time with this than others. Additionally, everyone needs to be on the same page regarding boundaries.
- Stick with it. One of the most effective things you can do is to let your loved one know you will never give up on them. That reassurance is a powerful message.
- Put safety first. Set limits with your loved one and let him or her know the consequences if those lines are crossed. Have emergency contact numbers available to everyone and make sure they know exactly what to do if lives are at risk.
Drug impairment doesn’t erase the need for basic structures and expectations. Clearly tell your loved one the standards you need them to meet and then be sure to follow through. This is especially important if you’re living together.
I’d recommend setting boundaries around the following areas: alcohol or other drug use, curfews, honesty, household chores and employment. This list isn’t all-inclusive, of course, but it’s a good place to start.
Often, following through on consequences is just as important as setting boundaries. Consequences should be agreed upon beforehand, with input from all parties involved. Including your loved one in these conversations is empowering and demonstrates trust and respect.
Helping someone you care about who suffers from addiction requires a lot of patience. It’s important for you to take care of your own needs, too. Talking to others who understand addiction can often be very helpful and ease stress surrounding your situation.
If you need help navigating your loved one’s addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.