Watching someone you love struggle with an alcohol or subsance use disorder (AUD/SUD) is a painful and heart-wrenching experience. You may feel helpless, hopeless, or confused about what you should do to help. Many people with AUD or SUD don’t see their drug or alcohol use as a problem. When they don’t understand the gravity of the situation, they may need some encouragement and support in order to take the first step toward recovery.
If you’re looking for a way to help a friend or family member, keep in mind this is a delicate topic that should be handled with extreme care. Few people are equipped to address this situation effectively, and there are some pitfalls that can make things worse.
The key is to act swiftly, decisively, and strategically if you’re going to get your loved one the help they need to live a live without alcohol or drugs.
Tips on How to Encourage Your Loved One to Seek Help
No one wants to be demonized for their behavior. This is especially true for those with problem alcohol or drug use. Alcohol and substance use disorders alter brain chemistry, impairing cognitive function and creating changes that lead in individual to prioritize alcohol or drug use over other things, even when they know they should not.
Instead of judgment, start with empathy. This may be difficult, especially if you’re angry, frustrated, or exhausted because of their actions. However, by showing care, you become a safe place your loved one can turn to when they’re ready to open up. Then, they’ll be more likely to trust you when you point them in the direction of professional help and support.
If Your Loved One Needs Support, Consider an Intervention
Sometimes an individual with AUD or SUD doesn’t see what’s at stake if they continue their alcohol or substance use. Their life is so centered on drugs or alcohol that they can’t see the effect on those they love.
An intervention can fucntion as a wake-up call that forces them to open their eyes and look around.
Do not stage an impulsive intervention. Instead, consult an expert, such as a treatment facility or interventionist, to help you form a strategy. Then, gather other friends and family and plan out the conversation ahead of time. An intervention is a chance to be up front and honest about how their addiction affects everyone.
The goal is not to force your loved one into treatment, but to help them see the situation clearly and understand their options. Ideally, they’ll begin the detox process immediately following the intervention.
What Not to Do When Your Loved One Has a Drug or Drinking Problem
Don’t Ignore It
When you bring up alcohol or drug use with someone who actively miuses alcohol or drugs, they will likely have a plausible or semi-plausible excuse to explain their behavior. If you ignore the situation and hope it goes away on its own – it won’t. AUD and SUD are serious medical conditions that, in some cases, can be a life-threatening. The sooner someone with AUD or SUD gets treatment, the better.
Don’t Succumb to Anger, Shame or Guilt
Alcohol or drug use may have changed your loved one dramatically. It might even feel like the person you know and love has transformed into someone you barely recognize. Over the course of their escalating alcohol or drug use, they may have hurt you through their words, actions, and attitude. But remember, your loved one is still present underneath these behaviors.
You may experience powerful emotions, but to get your loved one the help they need, you cannot succumb to these. Try to separate the person from the disorder. Do not use your anger as a weapon No amount of shame or guilt will make them choose to get help.
Instead, try to see their alcohol or drug use disorder for what it is: a chronic disease that needs to be addressed with compassion and empathy.
Need Help Getting Your Addicted Loved One Into Rehab?
If you are wondering how to get someone into rehab, Beacon House is here to help you. Once your loved one agrees, we’ll have a space waiting for them at our residential treatment program in beautiful Monterey, California.
We understand how difficult the journey ahead of you is. Our goal is to make it just a little bit easier. Contact Beacon House today to find out more about getting your loved one the help they need to get sober.