When someone you love habitually misuses alcohol or drugs, it may be clear to you that they need help long before it’s clear to them. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone you love continually behave in self-destructive ways. You may find that focusing on your own life has become difficult or seemingly impossible, because you are continually worrying about what the addicted person might do next.
You may feel like you have tried everything you can think of to talk your loved one into getting help. You may have cried, begged, screamed or set ultimatums, but nothing has worked. So, how can you convince your loved one to go to rehab?
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A person with substance use disorder is likely to strongly deny that there is a problem. They may genuinely believe that they can quit at any time they want to and that they just don’t want to. One of the best things you can do is learn as much as you can about addiction. Read as much as you can about substance use disorder and consider talking to addiction professionals or attending local support groups.
The more you learn about the disease of addiction, the more prepared you will be to deal with what is going on. You’re not going to be able to make your loved one quit misusing substances, but there are things you can control. For example, you may need to change some of your own behavior. If you are rescuing them from facing the consequences of their actions, they won’t be motivated to face the reality that they have a problem.
Working with an Interventionist
Substance use disorder is a progressive illness. Eventually, you may reach a point where you feel like you have exhausted all possible methods of getting through to your friend or loved one, and you may want to consider using a much more dramatic, “tough love” approach. You may then choose to work with a professional interventionist, who can guide you in the steps required to do an intervention. This involves gathering the people closest to the addict and preparing each to tell that person how they have been harmed by the addictive behavior.
During an intervention, the group confronts the addict and urges him or her to seek addiction treatment. Consequences of failing to do so are expressed, and family members have to be prepared to follow through on any ultimatums they set if the addict chooses not to seek treatment. It’s an emotionally explosive experience for the addict and for their loved ones. A mental health professional can guide you through the process.
Addicts and alcoholics often genuinely believe they aren’t hurting anyone but themselves. At an intervention, they will hear from an entire circle of people they are close to about how their behavior has negatively impacted other people’s lives. It can be a powerful motivator, which may get them to agree to go to rehab in Los Angeles.
Getting Help for Yourself
Whether or not you decide to hold an intervention, it’s important to realize that you are not going to be able to decide for the addict when or whether they agree to get help. Substance use disorder destroys lives and can ultimately be fatal, but you can’t make someone agree to start the journey of recovery or remain committed to it.
The one thing you can control is how you react to what’s happening. Caring for someone who has a problem with substance use can be frustrating, overwhelming and draining. It’s important to make healthy choices and decisions for yourself, which includes attending support groups with others who have had similar experiences, such as Al-Anon. You may also want to consider going to counseling to help you process your feelings and learn how to take care of yourself, whether or not the addict agrees to accept help.
As much as you love the addict, the decision on whether to go to rehab is ultimately up to them, not you. The most you can do is offer suggestions and support them and learn to take care of yourself no matter what happens.