There are very few things more gut-wrenching than to watch a loved one’s life continuously ravaged by a drug addiction. Whether their addiction is to prescription medications like Vicodin or Xanax or to street drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines, the long term damage can be very similar. You know that drug rehab treatment is what they need, but getting them to go may feel like a futile endeavor.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced a wide range of emotions – sadness, fear, anger, and helplessness – as you’ve watched your loved one essentially self-destruct. You may feel like pulling your hair out at times out of sheer frustration – wondering why anyone would do something so foolish to their life; wondering why they won’t get the help they so desperately need.
If only that was how addictions really worked…
Understand the power of an addiction
The most important thing to remember is that their continuous use isn’t simply a choice on their part. Addictions are insidious and powerful. The vast majority of addicts have tried to quit many times – only to succumb to their cravings again and again. Let’s face it; if an addiction was easy to overcome, most addicts – including your loved one – would have stopped long ago. Unfortunately, the process of becoming clean and staying sober is more complex than that. That’s why a good drug rehab treatment program is a crucial part of the process – if you can just get them there.
Never lose hope
Before you lose hope, remember that thousands of people have walked in your shoes. Thousands of so-called "hopeless" drug addicts enter drug rehab treatment programs every sing day – and they leave treatment clean and stay sober. Far more often than not, the reason they finally got into drug rehab treatment was because a spouse, family member, or friend refused to give up on them. In fact, it’s a very rare addict who can get clean entirely on his or her own.
So, that is the first and most important thing: never lose hope.
So, now what…?
"Okay, great", you’re probably thinking… "I’m still hopeful, but now what? What do I do? What do I say to them? How on earth can I convey how much I care and how deeply concerned I am without putting them on the defense? I’ve been watching this person’s life literally fall apart and everything I’ve tried in the past to get them into drug rehab treatment has totally failed…"
Good questions and very valid concerns.
There are things you can do that are often very effective, as well as things you definitely want to avoid doing as well. But before we talk about those, it is really crucial that you keep this important fact in mind: You’re loved one is the only person responsible for his or her addiction – NOT you. Even if you’ve been an enabler at times, it’s not your fault. Maybe your loved one has even blamed you for their problem – that’s very common, since excuses and blame go hand in hand with addictions.
Don’t blame yourself
Before making any further attempt to get your loved one into drug rehab treatment, it’s vital that you remember this. Otherwise, the familiar pattern of excuses, denial, and blame will pull you right back in, causing your efforts to fail once again. On top of that, your irritation, resentment, and sense of futility may hinder your desire and willingness to help.
Staging an Effective Intervention
In many cases, getting a loved one into drug rehab treatment requires what is known as an "intervention". An intervention involves a group of the addicts friends and families, who come together to confront the addict. The goal of the intervention is to break through the addict’s denial, get him or her to finally acknowledge the serious addiction problem, and agree that he or she needs treatment.
One of the most important elements of an effective intervention is to make sure you have a clear plan in place. This includes selecting a drug rehab treatment center in advance and making sure it is a good fit for the addict. You also want to check with the treatment facility to ensure that there’s an opening available. This way you can admit your loved one immediately following the intervention.
Another important aspect of the intervention is making sure that, as much as possible, the people who attend are individuals whom the addict respects and trusts. An intervention can quickly backfire if there’s anyone there who has a lot of anger or other negative feelings towards the addict. It’s also crucial that every person who participates in the intervention is completely on board with the game plan. They can easily undermine the process and antagonize the addict, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen.
An intervention is not the place for hurtful comments, blaming the addict, or arguing. Rather, the overall tone should clearly convey genuine caring and concern. Your loved one is already going to be guarded and defensive. After all, they’ve probably experienced plenty of harsh judgment and blame, and will likely be expecting more of the same.
The timing of the intervention is also really important. Often, an intervention is the most effective if it takes place soon after a fairly significant upheaval in the addict’s life that’s a direct result of their drug use. For example, a relationship breakup or job loss. These types of events are often wake up calls to the addict that it’s time to make a change. They may be more receptive to the intervention and open to drug rehab treatment under these types of circumstances.
Interventions give you and those involved the chance to let the addict know that you’re not willing to turn a blind eye to his addiction. Your love, genuine concern, and desire to help need to be abundantly clear to the addict.
Of course, even if you do everything right, there’s no guarantee it will work. But following these guidelines for an effective intervention will significantly increase the likeliness of success. Hopefully, confronting your loved one in this manner will help break down the walls so he or she can finally get into a good drug rehab treatment program.
If your loved one refuses…
Despite your best efforts, your loved one may still refuse to go to drug rehab treatment. Although this can be heartbreaking, it’s vital that you make it abundantly clear that none of you will provide any type of help or support – e.g. money, transportation, a place to crash, etc. – until he or she agrees to get help. Sometimes this is the turning point that will change the addicts mind – if not during the intervention then soon after when he or she realizes how serious you all are. It can be extremely difficult following through with tough love, but until you do, the pattern will likely continue.
You’re loved one is worth the effort – no matter how futile it may seem. Do everything you can, but accept that you can’t control what the addict chooses to do in the end.