how to help a drug addict who doesn't want help

how to help a drug addict who doesn't want help

Witnessing the suffering that can accompany a serious drug addiction is a very difficult thing to endure. Moreover, it can be even harder when your loved one resists getting help. Therefore, have you ever asked yourself how to help a drug addict who doesn’t want help? If so, you are certainly not alone.

How to Help a Drug Addict

There is an ongoing debate about whether an addict who doesn’t want help could actually be helped. Several believe that only the addict can help themselves. They need to want to quit. But during active addiction, few addicts want to quit. In fact, most addicts are, by their nature, unwilling patients.

The brain of the addict has been hijacked by drugs and leaves the addict powerless to see themselves and make rational choices truly. Because they have come to depend on drugs to function, they will make excuses, justify the indefensible, and put off treatment as long as possible.

When an addict does get treatment, it is often because of the following reasons:

  • Court order
  • Divorce
  • Loss of child custody
  • Hospitalization 

Many go on to achieve lifelong sobriety, although entering treatment wasn’t entirely voluntary.

Waiting for an Addict to “Hit Bottom”

Waiting for people to ask for help is a risky strategy. Without help, family members can expect crises like arrests, medical emergencies, loss of a job, public embarrassment, and even death.

Movies, books, and magazines often portray people who “hit bottom” before they can be helped. However, this is a myth. People do not need to bottom out to be helped. Research shows that early identification of the problem is a much more practical solution for substance use problems.  

Early identification occurs at the first signs of a problem—before anyone has suffered a traumatic event, dropped out of school, or lost meaningful relationships, jobs, health, or self-respect. Identification can be made through a health care professional screening, employee assistance professional, or a family member. In general, all people are better equipped to work on recovery if their substance use problem is discovered and confronted early on. Treatment in the early stages of a substance use disorder is likely to be less intense, less disruptive, and cause less anxiety.

As untreated problems continue, family members develop their issues. Partners of people who have substance use problems suffer greatly. Common symptoms include headaches, backaches, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Children of parents with substance abuse disorders can experience school behavior problems, poor academic performance, and are more likely to struggle with addiction themselves.

How to Help Someone With a Drug Addiction that Doesn’t Want Help

Having a strong desire to help a loved one suffering from addiction is only natural. The tips below will allow you to experience the greatest success in encouraging your family member to have the strength to reach out for help.

Many struggling families have found themselves wondering how to help a drug addict who doesn’t want help. While you cannot force another individual to submit to professional treatment, there are several steps you can take to encourage proper care in this situation.

Gain Education About Addiction. 

Addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking even in the face of job loss, damaged relationships and other negative consequences. Only when it is treated this way can loved ones provide the level of support, patience and understanding the addict needs. In fact, a vital first step to professional treatment involves recognizing the problem in the first place. Since you’re already to the point of researching addiction treatment options, you have likely noticed troubling signs of addiction in a family member.

Practice Self-Care.  

Loved ones can educate, encourage, and persuade, but overall, they cannot control the addict’s behavior. What they can control are their own actions and thoughts, which include stopping any enabling. They can also seek support from self-help meetings for loved ones of addicts (such as Al-Anon) or working with a therapist.

Set Limits. 

Loved ones often put the addict’s feelings and need first and become entangled in the lies and chaos. Setting and enforcing boundaries allows loved ones to resume control of their lives, practice healthy detachment, and guard their own health and well-being. 

This also helps the addict face the natural consequences of their actions. It’s alright to help the addict look for a job or choose a treatment center, but they must set clear boundaries around behaviors they see as unacceptable. (e.g., asking the addict not to come around if they are drunk or high or refusing to loan money or pay bills if they are still using).

Keep Communication Open.

It’s vital to make them feel as safe as possible. Furthermore, this will make them feel comfortable talking to you about their problems.

Stage an Intervention.

Addiction interventions are a highly effective way to break through the addict’s denial and get them into treatment. By staging an intervention, loved ones can get the addict’s attention and help them understand the consequences of their destructive behaviors before more severe consequences occur.

In some cases, a one-on-one conversation may suffice. Others may require a more coordinated approach, often in the form of a formal intervention attended by a close group of friends, family, or colleagues and led by a professional interventionist. A professional can help assess the situation, recommend treatment facilities, and ensure that the process remains productive and healing for all involved.

Many clinicians now favor a more interactive approach to interventions, where the person with the addiction can voice concerns without fear of reproach. Contemporary intervention approaches use various devices to gain the interest of the person with addiction do that the family doesn’t have to cut ties or support.

Having a higher degree of knowledge on these topics can help you overcome hurdles and remain a continual source of encouragement for your family members. If you have no prior experience in the addiction treatment industry, it can seem highly foreign. 

Educating yourself can make the whole process seem less frightening. In some cases, the addict may be angry and resentful and require time and ongoing encouragement to recognize the need for change. This can be an especially trying time for friends and loved ones who must stay close to the addict (without rescuing or enabling) and watch as they self-destruct. If not for the addict’s sake, but for their peace of mind that they did all they could.

When a Person Has Never Been to Treatment

Even if there have never been any earlier episodes of treatment that failed, an addict may be reluctant to go to rehab. A major reason for this is the harm that drugs do to a person’s mind and personality. They rob a person of self-worth, making the individual feel helpless or hopeless.  

The guilt over neglect of his responsibilities and the knowledge that he has harmed others are additional burdens. In every case, a lot of money has been spent on drugs that could have been used for education, children, business, or other positive purposes. 

A friend or family member trying to get someone to rehab may have to convince the person that the valuable, loving person he once was can come back. The relief he needs lies in an effective rehab program, and the sobriety that he wants in his heart is on the other side of this relief. No matter what any addict says, he (or she) does not want to be an addict.  

When a Person Has Been to Rehab and Then Relapsed

Addiction is a disease, and relapse is the nature of any chronic relapsing disease. Instead of viewing relapse as a step backward, think of it as a stepping stone and an opportunity for the addict and his therapists to re-evaluate previous treatment approaches and make the necessary adjustments.  

It can be very tough for a person when he goes to rehab, wanting to get clean, succeeds, and then relapses afterward. His guilt may double because his family already supported him and invested in him, and he failed them as well as himself.  

Search for Reliable Treatment Centers

You have firsthand insight into the most significant problem areas that are impacting your family. Therefore, by working together to find treatment centers near you, you’ll be able to ensure all important concerns are addressed.

Proper Treatment Elements for Addiction When an Addict Won’t Get Help

A proper addiction treatment plan will be custom to fit your exact needs. For example, addiction therapy often includes the following addiction treatment elements:

Specifically, reality therapy will place you in real-life situations, with the assistance of our staff, to begin utilizing your training. Therefore, you will have firsthand experience overcoming stressors and triggers in daily situations outside of rehab.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Center in North Carolina

Crest View Recovery Center is an addiction rehab facility in Asheville, NC. Our treatment center specializes in an innovative form of reality therapy, with access to a variety of quality rehab programs. All programs allow each individual to focus their attention on getting better.

Don’t let addiction take over your life. You can learn the skills necessary to overcome addiction issues. Contact us today to discover how the treatment professionals at Crest View Recovery Center can help you.


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