Addiction recovery is not easy. Many struggle for months before they are at peace with their recovery. Some go for years. But while treatment can feel ineffective or long-winded, the reality is different.
Addiction treatment is effective – but few people opt to go through with it. When forced, addiction treatment rarely sticks – but the motivation to get sober is complex and takes more than just an addict’s willingness to improve.
Nevertheless, of all the barriers to treatment, perhaps the one families struggle most with is a loved one’s unwillingness to get help.
There are many excuses when it comes to not seeking help, but none of them should dissuade you from doing the best you can for your loved one.
“It’s Not an Addiction”
Denial is one of the most common early obstacles in convincing a loved one to get help. No one wants to admit to an addiction – although we understand that addiction is a disease, to personally get addicted still feels like a failure, a judgment of our character and morals. Society still does a good job of making addiction feel that way, as well, as addiction continues to be attached to a considerable amount of stigma.
If you wish to convince someone to get help, it’s important to first understand their point of view. Being in denial of an addiction doesn’t necessarily mean the person hasn’t realized that their behavior indicates an addiction – instead, they’re unwilling to accept the label of addict. Sometimes, all it takes to convince someone to get help is to convince them that they aren’t being judged for what they’ve done. It’s an illness, a treatable one, one that often occurs due to circumstances and factors far out of a person’s control. Like any unfortunate disease, professional treatment is important.
“But Treatment is Too Expensive”
Convincing someone to do something isn’t about enforcing your own will. It’s about unraveling all the reasons someone doesn’t want to do something, and then working through them one by one. It’s not manipulation, it’s not abusive – it’s a simple matter of eliminating obstacles that a person sets for themselves.
Cost is a big one. Treatment is expensive – but the alternative is often far pricier. Maintaining an addiction can be cripplingly expensive, and unreasonably difficult. Then there’s the emotional and financial impact of losing a loved one, which is immeasurable. While treatment is pricey, it’s worth it for the amount of time and money it saves a family in the future, giving them plenty more time with their loved one.
“I Can’t Afford to Spend Time Away from Work”
It’s unreasonable to expect someone to easily part with something that gives then purpose and meaning. To many people, especially providers and breadwinners, their job is an integral part of their identity – it may even be the sole aspect of themselves that they cling to now, and it’s an important one. Regardless of what life we live, we need some meaning.
Convincing someone to get treatment when they’re still employed involves convincing them that they aren’t giving up their position as a crucial provider – they’re merely taking a needed break. In fact, work is an important part of recovery.
A tool wears out with use, and in many cases, it’s easy to see oneself as an important cog in the family without considering how a life like that can grind one down into nothingness. We all need time to ourselves, and an addiction might be a good indicator that getting help and taking some pressure off of life can bring much good in the long-term.
“This is a Personal Problem, I Don’t Need Professional Help”
Trust for doctors and rehab centers is often not necessarily high, and an addict paranoid about their behavior and about the consequences of labeling their drug use would feel threatened by the idea of outside intervention. There’s a tendency to keep personal and private matters ‘in the family’, even when professional help is called for.
Convincing a family member that their actions are hurting others and that getting real help is the only viable answer is important. To someone who wants to keep their problems private, family is often still important. They need or understand that what they’re doing isn’t just harming them, but those who care about them.
“What I Have Can’t Be Treated/I’ve Tried Getting Better”
Addiction can’t be treated on its own, and real addiction can’t be treated by going cold turkey and just avoiding life until the ‘bad thoughts’ go away. Addiction treatment is an involved process that takes serious psychological and social rehabilitation, helping an individual completely relearn what it means to live a fulfilling sober life.
“I’m Not as Bad As X!”
Some people might redirect any accusations of addiction by pointing at someone with greater struggles, as though a harder experience with addiction someone cancels out their own problems. While it’s true that some people have it harder than others, you shouldn’t wait until you hit ‘rock bottom’ before you seek help. Contrary to popular belief, a person doesn’t need to hit their very worst moment to get the help they need.
The earlier addiction is treated, the better the chances of a swift recovery process. It still takes time, but the effects of addiction are more easily reversed if they aren’t as deep-seated. The longer someone struggles with drug use, the longer it takes for the brain to completely recover.
“It’s My Choice/I’m Not Hurting Anyone Else”
It is their choice. But by choosing to continue their habit, they aren’t choosing only for themselves. Addiction affects everyone, especially those closest to the addict. It’s extremely hard to watch someone you love tear themselves apart, and no matter what role an addict plays in their family, addiction can be an extreme burden both emotionally and financially.
A single case of addiction can tear an entire family apart, as some people scramble to protect and even unwittingly enable their loved one, while others work vehemently to try and get them the help they need, creating a deep rift and sowing mistrust that often lasts for years to come.
The choice to get help isn’t one made only out of self-preservation – it should also be made out of a sense of accountability towards those you love.