7 Suggestions for Helping a Loved One

“HELP!!!! I’ve fallen and I don’t want to get up!”  – Sound familiar?

Rarely do addicts or problem drug users/drinkers have a willingness to seek help. It is the age old dilemma. Do you wait for them to want help? Or risk pushing them away by “forcing” help on them? It’s a great question and no one knows all the answers, but by following the 7 suggestions below, you can help your loved one and your family begin the journey to recovery.

1. Try a loving, honest approach. It just may work!:

When a family makes a decision to take action, getting a loved one into treatment can be difficult.  Often times, the first reaction is panic.  More often than not, a loved one is just waiting to be gently guided into action. A calm conversation where one or several family members explains the concern lovingly, and provides safe, effective options, often ends with the desired result; treatment. It is okay to prepare for battle, but always try the “honey over vinegar” approach first. If that fails, see suggestion number 2!

2. Know what you are walking into and what to expect:

As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it “an alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature”. They weren’t kidding. Family members need to understand that what you are actually dealing with is not your loved one, rather your loved one under foreign management. There is a huge difference. Confronting a loved one about entering treatment will possibly invoke a very negative response. They may say negative or even hurtful things.  They may take drastic action. They may even threaten you. It is important to remember to stay the course. You are helping them save their life, even if they do not see it. Be prepared for the worst and always have a support system in place, both to help with the problem drinker or drug user, and to help you maintain focus and direction.

3. Do not be afraid to get professional help:

Often times barriers to communication are so strong and fortified, an addict or alcoholic will not be willing to listen. It may be time to bring in a professional. Interventionists are highly skilled in this area. They can help with the tough job ahead and in most cases can be there to facilitate the whole process. At the very least, a family should consult with a professional to learn the vital skills necessary in this arena. Remember, if it were a medical issue, you would consult a doctor.  Why not use the same logic with this issue? Also, most professionals are happy to answer a few questions or give a piece of advice for free!

4. If boundaries need to be set, by all means set them!

It is best if you get prepared for the worst. Be ready for your loved one to rebel against the idea of seeking treatment. When this happens, and it usually does, you must take action. If your loved one does not agree to go into treatment willingly, have a backup plan.  Don’t wait for them to decide it’s time. That day may never come, that is, until they have destroyed their own life and torn your family apart! If you wield any power (financial, emotional) be prepared to love them enough to take it away. “The giving or withholding of one’s self to better nurture someone’s development” has sometimes been called “tough love”. You may need to withhold for a time, and that’s okay.  It may be the catalyst for the necessary change.

5. Be ready to roll!

When your loved one says “Yes, I’ll do it”, immediate action should be taken! Do not sit around and wait for them to talk themselves out of their decision. Prior to confronting your loved one, have a treatment center picked and a plan of action developed. Once your loved one agrees to treatment, he or she should pack their bag (or you do it for them) without hesitation and then it’s out the door! Procrastination is a deal breaker. If that happens, all bets are off. Action is key. Any excuse to prolong the inevitable should not be tolerated if at all possible. Call the treatment center you have chosen and have a game plan set so it all goes just as rehearsed.

6. Be prepared.  You’re not alone:

It is strongly suggested that family and friends of a problem user get themselves into a support group. It is very important that you know you aren’t alone. Getting the right support may be the step you need to gather the courage to take action. Do not deny yourself personal healing in such a difficult time. Go online and research support meetings for families. Keep an open mind. You will not regret it.

7. Acceptance:

Simple, yet important. Regardless of all you do, your loved one may not be willing or ready to seek help or accept the help you’re offering. Ultimately, only the loved one in question can make the choice to do what’s right and accept the help being offered. Your focus should remain on doing what is best for your loved one. People change when they are ready to change. If you feel good about what you are doing and you know you have set your loved one up for success, accept that you’ve done your best. Let them own their life, their decisions, and their consequences. Let them know you will always be there for them when they want help. You will be amazed at how good it feels.


If you or a loved one is looking for treatment for any type of substance abuse, please call NOW: 1-866-294-9331 or 480-827-0322 (your call is confidential)

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