Why Do Addicts Go Back and Forth with Accepting Treatment?

Getting a loved one to seek treatment for a substance abuse problem isn’t easy, but it’s the one thing you hope for and work toward. Unfortunately, things are never quite that black and white when it comes to dealing with addiction.

Unlike what we see on TV, accepting treatment isn’t always the result of a one-time intervention or ultimatum. Rather, it tends to be a back-and-forth, up-and-down rollercoaster that takes place over the course of months or years. And it’s frustrating.

Why Addicts Go Back and Forth Regarding Treatment

So why is it that your loved one can’t make up their mind about recovery? Why are they open to the idea one day and then against it the next? There are two main reasons for this.

    • They’re feeling bad for themselves.

First, it’s important to realize that most addicts have periods in their life where they are more open to starting treatment. This usually happens when something really bad takes place (i.e., car accident, losing custody of the kids) and they are full of remorse.

    • They’re coming off a hangover.

A second reason why addicts may be more receptive to treatment is that they are having bad hangover symptoms or coming down from a high. In other words, they’re not quite craving another dose (they’re satisfied), but they’re not exactly feeling great either.

Having these moments of partial clarity are not guarantees for entering treatment or even making lifestyle changes. Most addicts have these periods from time to time but still, continue with the abuse. They continue because they are under the delusion that it’s the easy way out.

Helping Your Loved One to Act on Key Moments

So how can you get your loved one to capitalize on a moment when they are actually willing to quit? While there are no guarantees, here are a few suggestions.

    • Be ready with options.

Research various treatment centers in advance and learn about the programs offered and whether your insurance will cover the cost. Treatment is uncertain, so help your loved one feel less ambivalent about the process.

    • Start counseling.

If you can get your loved one into some type of counseling, they can begin learning about themselves and their reasons for becoming addicted. They can also learn valuable skills such as how to deal with anger.

    • Treat underlying conditions.

Try to get your loved one to care for other health conditions – physical and mental. For example, if your loved one lives in chronic pain, address it.

    • Show your support.

Continue to support the idea of recovery. Do not support the addiction. It’s easy to become an enabler, so identify your role and ensure that it’s a healthy one. You can love and support your family member without facilitating their addiction.

    • Stage an intervention.

Talk to an interventionist about staging an intervention. Your hope is to leave an imprint on your loved ones and get them to agree to seek treatment.

Recovery is a process, and it starts earlier than you think. If your loved one is showing signs of wanting to change, be ready to act on it. By continuing to support the idea of recovery and being prepared with options, you might be able to capitalize on one of these moments.

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