Forcing someone we love into residential recovery or treatment isn’t a viable, effective, or legal option. Even though addiction is a disease, we cannot make the decision for someone else to get treatment. They have to acknowledge their illness and be willing to change.
How You Can Help
It can be extremely painful to watch your loved one struggle with addiction and resist your help. So what can you do to encourage and support your loved one during this time?
Let’s look at the different stages of addiction recovery and how to communicate with a loved one about treatment.
Stage 1: Precontemplation
My loved one is either unaware or in denial of their substance use disorder. They don’t want to listen to advice or hear about the negative consequences of their addiction.
During the conversation, try to:
- Express concern. Describe the changes you see in the person’s behavior.
- Ask about what they’re experiencing and feeling. Suggest that the person may have a substance use disorder.
- Suggest treatment
- Be prepared for the person to ignore or argue with you. Remain patient.
- Set boundaries about what you will no longer allow to happen in your home (for example, no substance use in the home, no more financial help, etc.).
Stage 2: Contemplation
My loved one begins to experience the negative consequences of addiction and begins to think about changing their behavior. They may be open to hearing advice but not willing to make a commitment.
During the conversation, try to:
- Review again the ways that you see the addiction affecting your loved one and how it affects you.
- Suggest that you look at treatment options together.
- If necessary, enlist the help of trusted family and friends to further reiterate the seriousness of the issue.
Stage 3: Preparation
My loved one begins to make plans to get help with their addiction.
During conversations at this stage, try to:
- Praise the person for their willingness to admit their need for help and offer to help them find the support they need. You can do this by researching and visiting treatment centers, talking with the insurance company, researching policies for a leave of absence from their job, helping arrange any necessary child care, and more.
- Help them get rid of triggers. Make sure you don’t have substances in your home; encourage your loved one to meet new friends or find a local recovery support group.
Stage 4: Action
My loved one is actively seeking and getting treatment, whether by enrolling in a residential or outpatient treatment program, going to local recovery meetings, meeting with a therapist, etc.
Your role at this stage is to offer support and encouragement. You can also educate yourself about addiction and participate in any programming available for families or loved ones.
Stage 5: Maintenance
My loved one has completed detox and treatment and is now ready to sustain sobriety in their normal day-to-day life.
Your role at this stage is continued support, as well as communicating with your loved one about any tendencies toward relapse that you notice.
We Are Ready to Help You and Your Loved One
Of course, all this advice is easier written than done. Stages may overlap, conversations may progress and regress, we may say the right thing but later react poorly. These stages may occur over the course of days or months. As you continue to work with your loved one, remember to take care of yourself as well. Reach out to our admissions counselors at Great Oaks Recovery Center if you have questions or concerns about how to help your loved one commit to treatment.