How To Get Someone Into Rehab?…
Somebody you love has a substance abuse problem, and you feel exhausted, frustrated, angry, fearful, and confused, but mostly, you are worried. It’s normal to feel helpless in the face of addiction.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, substance abuse affects more than 20 million Americans from all walks of life, be they rich or poor, rural or urban, young or old.
Stopping is never easy, but for most people, addiction will continue to worsen without treatment.
Addiction isn’t a matter of laziness or lack of willpower. It is a chronic, brain-altering disease. Consider it a medical issue, much like diabetes, high blood pressure, or emphysema.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your loved one, as recovery is possible, even if the addiction is severe or long-term. The longer the problem continues, the higher the risk that something bad may happen.
Getting into treatment is the first step, and as a valued friend or family member, you have an important and challenging role to play. Convincing a loved one can be tricky, and generally requires a whole lot of patience and persistence, but a reliable support system is critical.
Take care of yourself and seek guidance and support before you attempt to help someone else. Support groups such as Al-Anon are useful for many people, or you may want to talk to an addictions counselor. Remember that you can’t force another person to change his behavior, but you can change how you react.
You may have a hard time setting boundaries, or you may give in to unreasonable requests. You may consistently put the addict’s needs ahead of your own. For instance, you may make excuses for your partner, or call his employer when he’s sick or hungover. You may pay bills or give your adult child money, or provide bail when a friend ends up in jail.
Although you mean well and want to protect your loved one, this type of help is harmful because it enables the addiction to continue. Getting tough with a loved one is hard, but your friend or family member is more likely to seek treatment when she faces the consequences of her behavior.
Before you approach a loved one with your concerns, learn about addiction and how it affects the mind and body. Be knowledgeable about your friend’s “drug of choice.” Take time to research treatment centers, 12-Step groups, and other resources in your community. It won’t be easy to take you seriously if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Arrange a time to talk to your loved one about her addiction at a neutral location where you can talk without being disturbed. Expect pushback; your friend or family member may be hesitant, or she may feel you’re interfering. He may feel ashamed or embarrassed. Don’t try to have a discussion when the person is under the influence.
Be honest and straightforward. Let the person know why you’re concerned, and offer specific examples of how his use of drugs or alcohol have affected you and others. Don’t beg or lay guilt trips. Avoid giving ultimatums and don’t resort to blame, or humiliation. If you or your friend get angry, stop, and try again later.
Fear often prevents addicted people from seeking treatment, and this is normal. Your friend may be afraid of managing day-to-day life without drugs or alcohol, especially if he struggles with depression, anxiety, or other issues.
If this is the case, help your friend find a treatment center that understands how to treat a situation known as “dual diagnosis,” when addiction and mental health problems occur at the same time.
Often, people are fearful of painful withdrawal symptoms associated with detox. Assure your friend that the treatment center will ensure she is safe and as comfortable as possible until her body is free of the substance. A doctor may prescribe medications to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
Severe addiction may call for medical detox, where your loved one will be monitored around the clock. Above all, never encourage your friend to stop cold turkey. Stopping suddenly can be dangerous or even life-threatening and is likely to result in relapse.
When it comes to convincing an addicted person to enter treatment, arm-twisting is rarely an effective tactic, especially if the person is an adult. However, most states have involuntary commitment laws if the person is underage, mentally ill, or a danger to himself or others.
This is a complex issue, and laws vary from state to state. You’ll need the advice of an attorney if you’re seriously considering involuntary rehab.
Otherwise, it’s usually better for the person to learn to manage the problem on her own. You can be supportive and encouraging, and you can help if your loved one is ready for treatment, but you can’t make the decision.
An intervention provides an opportunity for a few family members, close friends, and other key people to come together to confront the addicted person and convince him to enter treatment immediately. However, the decision to hold an intervention should never be taken lightly and should be used only as a last resort.
Interventions are more likely to be successful when carried out with the help of a qualified interventionist. An experienced professional will help you determine the best course of action. She will help you devise a plan for the event and will offer tips on how to handle objections, denial, or anger. She will keep the intervention on track, and help participants remain calm.
During the intervention, each participant, firmly and without judgment, will confront the addicted person, and will present consequences if the person chooses not to enter treatment. For instance, a participant may decide to no longer provide money, housing, or other support.
There’s always a possibility that even with careful planning and professional help, a confrontation can go awry, and may make things worse. If things go wrong, an intervention can trigger denial, resentment, anger, and sometimes can lead to violence.
An intervention may be ill-advised if the person has a history of aggressive behavior or severe mental illness, or if she has mentioned or attempted suicide. A professional can help you determine if an intervention is wise.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America:
The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: HHS, November 2016. – https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/sites/default/files/executive-summary.pdf
Expert advice: How to help an addicted friend or family member get help by Dan Gordon | July 31, 2015 – http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/expert-advice-how-to-help-an-addicted-friend-or-family-member-get-help
Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction – https://kcms-prod-mcorg.mayo.edu/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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