Even if someone else’s drug abuse is having a destructive effect on you, it can be hard to take those first steps to get your loved one into rehab. Many people hesitate to talk to their friends or family about rehab because of feelings like, “I might make things worse if I confront him about his drinking,” or “She has the right to lead her own life.” But when physical safety, health, close relationships and personal resources are at stake, talking to your loved one about drug rehab may be the most important thing you can do.
Drug Abuse and Families
The effects of drug and alcohol abuse go far beyond the individual. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence points out that addiction is rarely an isolated condition; it’s a family disease. When one person in a household is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the rest of the family suffers in the following ways:
- Undermines family stability
- Destroys trust and intimacy
- Affects each member’s physical and mental health
- Ravages household finances
- Increases the risk of substance abuse and addiction in younger generations
- Separates spouses, partners, parents and children
Drug rehab offers new hope, even for chronic, heavy users. If someone you care about won’t get treatment for his or her own sake, you might be able to convince them to enter rehab in order to create a safer, more secure future for the family.
Starting the Conversation
If you’re faced with the need to confront someone about entering rehab, make a list of all the ways that substance abuse is affecting not only him or her, but everyone else. Then make a list of all the positive ways that your lives might change if the whole family could recover from the disease of addiction.
As you talk with your loved one, keep the conversation as nonjudgmental and neutral as possible. Even though addiction can stir up powerful emotions — such as pain, anger, regret, guilt or resentment — it’s important to focus the conversation on the disease and its solutions. Remember that addiction isn’t a weakness or a character flaw on your loved one’s part; it’s a chronic condition that requires intensive, long-term treatment. If your loved one had another serious chronic disease, such as diabetes, hypertension or cancer, you’d never question the need for professional help. Why should addiction be any different?
Above all, let your loved one know that he or she has your full support. According to the journal Family Process, family-based strategies like behavioral couples therapy (BCT) are an effective way to build stronger bonds between spouses or partners and promote the goals of a rehab program. If you are fully committed to helping your partner, spouse, parent or child get sober, his or her chances of success in recovery are much greater than if he or she is forced to go through the process alone.
When a Conversation Isn’t Enough
As much as you care about your loved one’s future, it’s not always possible to convince another person to get into treatment with a single conversation. In many cases, a more structured intervention is required to get the process of healing started. An intervention is a pre-arranged meeting in which family members, friends and other concerned parties speak directly to the substance abuser about how his or her behavior is affecting their lives. Because a intervention can be an emotionally charged, potentially risky encounter, addiction specialists recommend that you seek advice from a professional interventionist to get the most out of this discussion. An interventionist is a counselor, therapist, psychologist or social worker who has specialized training in helping others get help for addiction.
Convincing a loved one to go into drug rehabilitation may seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. But the rewards of recovery can make a tremendous difference in your family’s quality of life. The counselors here at Axis Residential Treatment are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about helping someone you love take advantage of the opportunities of rehab.