Having a friend or family member who struggles with an alcohol or drug addiction can be stressful and frustrating. And while it may seem like there’s no possible way they could ever get sober, you have to do what’s best for them, and continually push them in the right direction – even when it isn’t comfortable.
The key is to avoid taking a harsh stance and instead opt for an encouraging approach.
Five Suggestions to Help Friends Pursue Rehab or Treatment
There a variety of options for helping friends pursue rehab or treatment and much of your approach will depend on their personality and your relationship with them. With that being said, the following tips generally apply:
1. Tell the Addict How They’re Affecting Loved Ones
Often, addicts don’t pursue treatment because they don’t know how much they’re impacting the lives of those around them. They don’t realize that their actions are destructive to their friends and family members. It’s up to you to help them understand this concept.
Clearly explain to your friend or family member how their actions are hurting you. Use “I” statements and make the conversation personal. Tell them you’re scared, stressed, worried, or hurt. Once the individual understands, they’re much more likely to move forward with treatment.
2. Explain the Benefits of Structured Recovery
One of the things addicts often struggle with is structure. They simply don’t have a lot of organization. As a result, they turn to different substances. Furthermore, addicts often have an incorrect view of what rehab or treatment is really like. They assume it’s a hostile environment where they’ll be shamed for their actions.
What you need to do is help your loved one understand recovery through the lens of structure. As American Addiction Centers explains, “The basic premise of the 12-Step model is that people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from the substances or behaviors to which they are addicted. They can do this through meetings in which they share their experiences with one another and support each other in the ongoing effort of maintaining abstinence.”
3. Pledge Your Support
Your loved one needs to know you’ll be there to support them every step of the way. Many addicts are scared that they’ll be shipped off to rehab, and then lose the support and care of their friends and family. You can help your friend avoid this irrational fear by pledging your support and promising ongoing encouragement – especially when they finish their program.
4. Try Repetitive Informal Interventions
While formal interventions are often necessary in extreme circumstances, it’s best to try informal interventions first. Informal interventions are basically natural conversations and unstructured one-on-one discussions. These are less overwhelming and give you a chance to explain how you feel in a comfortable environment.
5. Be Gentle and Non Judgmental
Finally, you must be as gentle as possible. Addicts are extremely scared of judgment – since they’re already hard on themselves – and will get very defensive if you express an air of superiority. If you feel like a conversation is about to get heated, do your best to end the discussion and return at a later point in time.
Never Underestimate Your Influence
As a friend or loved one, you should never underestimate the influence you have over someone who cares for you. While it’s easy to avoid “rocking the boat,” that’s a selfish way of looking at someone’s struggle with addiction. There are times when they need a firm, yet loving nudge in the right direction.
Do your best to help them get back on the right path.