How to help someone get into an addiction treatment?

Every day, people from all walks of life struggle with drug addiction. For a lot of these people, regular drug use and dependency have become a kind of security blanket. The mere thought of going without their regular daily fix is a source of anxiety and even panic. Many individuals are uncertain what steps to take to overcome drug addiction. Others are scared to take steps towards seeking addiction treatment. Friends and family members often observe the negative impact a drug addiction has on a loved one’s life, but they are unsure how their loved one will react if they try to approach them. The unfortunate consequence of this fear is a loved one who doesn’t get the treatment s/he so desperately needs.

Understanding the problem before urging a loved one to seek treatment

Before a person approaches a loved one who has a drug addiction, it is important to consider how scared or ashamed the person may be. Most likely, they are also living with unresolved guilt. Expect the person with a drug addiction to make every excuse to hold on to their addiction, rather than taking steps to seek treatment. If a person approaches someone struggling with drug addiction, unaware of how prepared the addict is to defend and resist treatment, chances are their efforts will be in vain. The one struggling with addiction may feel normal, or they will underestimate the changes drugs have made in their personality. As with any form of addiction or insecurity, steps must be taken to encourage the one who has the addiction to recognize that what is normal is a life free of drug addiction. Most importantly, the person must value a clean life over holding on to the addiction. Once they want genuine change to take place, only then are they in a position to seek addiction treatment.

Addressing the addiction

Planning to confront a person with their drug addiction is never a burden friends or family look forward to. If the engagement (intervention) is not well thought out in advance it can become highly emotional, reactive, and explosive for both parties. The idea is not to fight with the person who struggles with addiction. They will make excuses, resist help, and go to great lengths to maintain their addiction. Moreover, if they feel backed into a corner, they will blame everyone else for their problems before pointing a finger at themselves. Avoid locking horns and reacting; it is better to focus on your willingness to help the addicted person achieve a better situation. It is not a friend or family member’s job to prevent the addiction. Rather, you are just asking the individual to consider speaking with a professional drug counselor to determine if things have not gotten too out of hand. It is best to let a trained professional, experienced in dealing with drug addicts on a daily basis, do the work of separating the addict from their addiction. The best thing a friend or family member can do is help the addict take that first step and get to their first appointment with the addiction counselor.

Meeting resistance

Addictions make people react irrationally. It is always easier for the addict to point a finger at others and blame those who are trying to help them. However, it is critical to turn this finger pointing to one’s advantage. Give the addict the benefit of the doubt. Every excuse they bring up, every point of blame, should be turned into a cause for seeking the opinion of a professional. If someone addicted to drugs believes they are right and everyone else is wrong, they should not fear making their case before a professional addiction counselor. It is okay for those close to the addict make it clear they don’t have a vested interest in the outcome, as determined by the professional. At this point, the excuses and blame game no longer make any sense. If they continue to offer up resistance, it is enough to ask what it is about their own line of reasoning that they mistrust. If they believe their story, and their story makes sense, then it should make perfect sense to a professional counselor too. Here, the weight of addicts’ excuses starts to stretch their self-deception thin. Remember, the idea is not to convince the addict that they or their addiction are wrong; let the professionals do that. The idea is to get the addict in front of a professional and let the professional addiction counselors do their job.

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