You’ve spent the better part of the past few years begging, pleading, demanding – even bribing your loved one to go to treatment for their drug or alcohol addiction. You’ve watched the addiction destroy your loved one’s life; taking almost everything one could hold dear: friends, jobs, healthy, sanity, respect, and self-respect. You know it may eventually cause them to lose their life. You can’t wrap your head around why someone who has experienced the type of pain, devastation, and turmoil caused by substance addiction wouldn’t want to heal, take back their life, and live a healthy, happy, substance-free life. You can’t understand why they may acknowledge the chaos in their life – yet they don’t want to get professional help for their addiction.
Why Your Loved One May Be Resistant to Treatment
Your loved one is sick with the disease of addiction; things appear completely different to them than they do to you. Their excuses and justifications for actions and behavior are a byproduct of the disease.
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Some of the most common reasons people become resistant to addiction treatment include:
- Denial: Your loved one is likely in denial about the root of their problems. While they may see that they are turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with their problems, they may not see that those substances are the cause of their problems. Your loved one may drink or use drugs to cope with a job loss or failed relationship – blaming their boss or their partner for the pain, instead of realizing the substance may have put them in the position to lose those things. It is likely that your loved one sees their drug of choice as a savior, rather than an instigator of problems.
- Misconception About Rock Bottom: Has anyone ever told you that your loved one needs to hit rock bottom before he or she can change? Rock bottom doesn’t mean that your loved one needs to lose everything; it doesn’t mean he or she needs to suffer beyond what they’ve already endured – it means that he or she needs to come to a place where they feel ready to change. Think of an elevator ride: you don’t need to wait until the elevator reaches the ground level to exit – you can get out at any floor you choose. Your loved one doesn’t need to hit the bottom, they just need to take action.
- Control: For many people struggling with addiction, it’s difficult to admit there is a need for treatment. A large part of this difficulty centers around the need to control their own destiny, relationships, and life. While they may feel as though they are currently in control, It’s hard for them to see that the substances are actually controlling them.
- Fear: There is a high probability that your loved one is actually afraid of going to rehab, and afraid of what recovery may bring. It takes a significant amount of motivation, determination and even courage to enter an addiction treatment program. Whether it is fear of the detox and withdrawals, failures in previous attempts at rehab, or what a life a recovery may mean – your loved one may be apprehensive about making a major change in the life.
How You Can Help
The sooner your loved one is able to enter treatment and begin healing, the better. While the only person who can truly make the decision to get healthy is your loved one, there are things that you can do to aid in the process and break down the barriers of resistance.
Some of these things may include:
- Learn as much as you can about drug and alcohol addiction, as well as co-occurring mental and behavioral health issues.
- Be prepared and supportive of your loved one when he or she communicates that they may be ready for a change. It’s easy to build a hardened heart, but being ready for this moment is essential in helping them to seek treatment.
- Consider a professional intervention
When it comes to loving someone in active addiction, emotions can be heightened. Hiring a professional, third-party interventionist can keep emotions in check.
According to the Mayo Clinic, in most cases, hiring an intervention professional is the best and safest way to accomplish an intervention, especially when these factors are present:
- Your loved one is or has been suicidal
- Your loved one has a history of violence
- Your loved one has a history of mental or behavioral illness
- Your loved one is likely to deny, rationalize, or minimize the problem – and is likely to erupt in anger to defend his or her position
In the end, your loved one must be the one to truly desire help. However, it is vital that you help him or her take the necessary steps in order to overcome their recovery resistance.