Addiction: How to Handle a Loved One Who Doesn’t Want Help

There’s nothing as painful as watching a loved one suffer, especially when you know they could get better if they just got help. Unfortunately, unless they ask for help themselves, no amount of coaxing will get them clean. Even when it comes from a place of love, there may be things you’re unknowingly doing to enable this person to remain in their situation. Sometimes instead of trying so hard, you may consider taking a step back to let them work through the issue in their own way. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help.

Stop enabling them

Many people who think they are lovingly caring for an addict are actually enabling them to keep using. But there’s a big difference between the two behaviors. For example, it may seem loving and caring to do things for your loved one who’s struggling with addiction, and sometimes it is. The problem is when you start doing things for them they would normally do for themselves if they were sober. In other words, you are taking away the negative consequences they would normally have from not doing something. Sometimes it is best to allow them to see the negative impact their addiction has on their lives.

Also, it’s best to avoid loaning the addict money or personally rescuing them in any way. This might mean letting them spend a night in jail or paying a big fine. Oftentimes, figuring out financial problems themselves can lead to a realization about the need for recovery. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries regarding what you will and won’t do to help them.

Give them consequences

If the addict lives in your home, giving them consequences will be a lot easier than if they’re on their own. If you’re the parent of an addict, you can start by removing privileges until they’re willing to take responsibility for their behavior. For someone else, you can call the authorities or ask them to move out until they agree to get help. The important thing is to only choose consequences you know you can follow through on. Otherwise, they’ll see through your empty threats and might take advantage. Remember to not take these behaviors personally, and find peace of mind that these boundaries are as much for you as they are for the addict.

See a counselor

Until you can get your loved one to enter rehab, it’s helpful for you yourself to see a therapist, possibly with the rest of the family. Or if you’d rather, you can find rehab centers in Toronto that offer group counseling sessions for families of addicts. Al-anon groups are specifically designed for this purpose and make great outlets for the things you’re going through. Talking to someone who specializes in these matters can help you to set healthy boundaries and understand how to better communicate with your addicted loved one. Also, if they see you attend sessions yourself, it’s possible they’ll come around sooner and be willing to go with you at some point. 

Stage an intervention 

If the situation requires it, you may find it necessary to stage an intervention. However, it’s important that this is done in consultation with a family physician or mental health professional. During an intervention, close friends and family members gather to confront someone about a drug or alcohol problem they’ve noticed. There should be a plan in place that includes where you will take them if they agree to treatment. If they don’t agree to treatment, they’ll need to face consequences of some kind, such as making them move out. Experts advise that you be very careful about who you include in the intervention. Make sure it’s only people who have the addict’s best interests at heart.

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