The 5 Most Effective Ways to Encourage a Loved One to Seek Treatment

February 26th, 2019

When loved ones struggle with substance abuse dependency and addiction, not only do they feel the pain of their compulsion, but so does everyone else around them. If you are reading this blog, it is likely that a person close to you needs to seek professional help for their problem. Whether a sibling, child, parent, or dear friend, it is likely you care about this person very deeply.

While you might feel like your loved one is refusing to get treatment because they are angry with you, hate you, or prefer their substance of choice to you, this could not be further from the truth. Below the haze of their cravings lies the person whom you once knew and still love. Right now, it might be very frustrating to understand why they seemingly “choose” this path of addiction over recovery, but the crux of the issue is this: they have a disease and they do not feel that they have a choice.

On the path to motivating your loved one to seek help and treatment for their substance addiction issues, it is crucial for you to complete the very first step, and then all the others, before you even try to approach your loved one with plans for seeking treatment.

#1: Seek Help and Education for Yourself

You cannot ask someone with substance dependency issues to make changes without any information of your own. The information is not for you to lecture them but rather for you to better understand the situation.

It is also advisable to seek a licensed addiction therapist’s counsel for yourself. A therapist will not try to “fix you” but rather help you approach the topic with proper resources. A therapist will also help you understand that you cannot change your loved one, but you can change how you react to them. Your reaction to the situations presented by an addicted person is the only thing within your control.

After completing this step and learning as much as possible, it is time to approach your loved one. A therapist or counselor will know the best methods that will be productive in your specific case, but regardless of the approach, it is important to keep the following steps in mind while embarking on this journey.

#2: Show Empathy

You might not feel empathetic because of how the addicted person angers you. No matter how frustrated you are, try to put yourself in the shoes of your loved one. Imagine how you might feel if someone wanted to make your decisions for you.

Consider this in terms of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, the harder you push your loved one to seek help, the harder he or she will resist and push back.

Instead of using statements or phrases such as, “You will get help because you are hurting me,” try to use empathetic statements:

  • Ask open-ended questions. Don’t make statements that do not allow for any input from the other person, but rather give your loved one the opportunity to speak freely about his or her experiences, concerns, fears, etc.
  • Keep the conversation general. Do not try to glean specific answers through detailed questions.
  • Avoid the temptation to criticize. Try not to tell them what they are doing wrong but rather seek to understand how they feel.
  • Show concern. The main goal is to have the other person know that you love them, you support them, and you are worried about how their addiction affects you and them, as well.

#3: Create and Maintain Healthy Boundaries

Remember, you are the only one in control of your reactions and one of these reactions is your boundaries. Having boundaries and maintaining them is not only achievable, but also important. Healthy boundaries, such as “I will not engage in arguments with you while you have been drinking,” protect you from further harm and stress.

When talking with your therapist, formulate a list of healthy boundaries and make a plan to ensure you and your loved one follow them to the letter.

#4: Encourage Your Loved One to Accept Responsibility – Do Not Enable

When people are going through substance abuse issues, they often blame their addiction on anything and everything but themselves. You might find yourself wanting to protect them from themselves by “covering for” or “enabling” their actions. Enabling can be anything that aids a person to continue the abuse of a substance and accept none of the responsibility for his or her actions.

Explain to your loved one that you are not going to excuse or take the blame for his or her behaviors and actions any longer. While this might sound harsh and critical, it is a form of self-preservation. It is true that people struggling with addiction have a disease and do not have a choice on whether to be drug or alcohol dependent, but they are in control of how they justify addiction by blaming others for their problems.

#5: Strength in Numbers: Enlist More Help

You should not be taking this responsibility solely on yourself. There are a myriad of resources to tap into when you need them while your loved one is in active recovery, considering rehabilitation, or flatly refusing to seek help.

  • An Al-Anon or Nar-Anon group for loved ones who care about a person who needs help, is getting help, or is in recovery
  • An addiction treatment specialist you have contacted before you approach your loved one
  • A professional intervention by your addiction treatment specialist, depending upon what they prescribe

Motivating someone you love to make a major life change and abstain completely from drugs or alcohol might seem like an insurmountable task. It might feel as if you are completely alone in your struggle and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are not alone, and you do not need to sacrifice your own health and well-being to achieve peace, knowing that your loved one is getting help and making lasting changes for his or her own betterment as well as your own.

Contact the professionals at Windmill Wellness Ranch to help you formulate a plan of action. We can help you motivate your loved one to seek help for their substance abuse problems today.