After having worked in the field of addiction recovery for a decade, I have consistently seen many of the same questions asked by families of those with Addictions. Each week I am addressing one of the five of the most frequently asked questions I have heard regarding addiction and the treatment of addictions.
Families of Addicts Question #3 – How do I get them to go to treatment?
So you have found a place, or maybe a few treatment centers/programs. Now what do you do? There is no one way to convince someone or help someone get treatment for an addiction. I know some families have paid for an interventionist to come in and help the family. Other times one particular family member whom the addict trusts and respects will talk with them. Again, addiction is a disease that affects the brain’s ability to make healthy choices and makes handling emotions much more difficult. Therefore, it is very common for someone struggling with an addiction to be resistant to the idea of treatment. It is also very common for someone to agree to treatment one day and the next refuse to go.
When they decide to go
For the vast majority of the clients I have treated, their decision to seek treatment came as a result of a significant consequence of their addictive behaviors. This can include the potential loss of a job, legal issues, serious financial strain, or an ultimatum given by a significant other. That is why it is important as family members to stop enabling the one you are trying to help. Enabling often allows the addict to keep engaging in their addiction since they don’t have to deal with any consequences. A very short definition of enabling is: removing the natural consequences of someone’s behavior. Stick to what you say you will and will not do and if you need help to do that, reach out to a professional counselor who can help you with boundary setting.
Therefore, I always recommend that if you have a family member who clearly needs treatment but is resistant, make sure you have a list of treatment options they can access when the day comes that they decide they are ready to seek help. Know the payment options available to you. If they need to use their insurance to pay, make sure you know the insurance benefits and that the facility or treatment provider accepts their insurance. Make sure you have a phone # of the right person to call to get them in to treatment; usually that is an admissions or intake coordinator at the larger facilities. You may only have a small window of opportunity to get them into treatment and the more prepared you are with contacts and phone numbers the less stressful the process will be.