How do you help an adult to get treatment for alcohol and drugs addiction?

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Answered by: JIM, An Expert in the Alcohol and Drugs Category
Having to deal with a loved one who is battling with an alcohol and drugs addiction problem can be quite frankly very isolating and heartbreaking. The situation becomes even worse when this loved one is an adult who would most likely vehemently fight against any suggestions or efforts by others to get treatment. Like any type of addict, an adult who abuses drugs or alcohol requires immense support from their loved ones, appropriate treatment and more importantly, a dogged willingness to recover and stay clean.

Don’t wait until ‘rock bottom’

Given that you are dealing with an adult with a substance abuse problem, it is easy to want to give them space to deal with what seems like their ‘issues’ on their own. In fact, most people do not pay too much attention to the warning signs of drug or alcohol abuse and they tend to wait it out until the affected person hits the proverbial ‘rock bottom.’ The truth is, it is easier to treat substance abuse in its early stages than it is when your loved one is too far-gone, has developed a deep addiction and as such, are less willing to take up comprehensive treatment. Many times, your loved one will deny that they have a problem and this may convince you to leave them alone. However, it is never too late to consistently encourage them to think about seeking treatment.

Pleading won’t work, neither will shaming

It is common to feel desperate when you see your loved one wasting their life away to drugs and alcohol. However, pleading with them to stop usually does not work and may make them feel worse about their ability to change the situation. It is also unwise to shame a person who is struggling with an addiction no matter how much shame, pain and problems they may have indeed caused with their behavior. As difficult as it may be, try to establish or reestablish a connection with your affected loved one. This will require that you practice communication and listening skills that will bring him closer to you and not push them away. Friendly, thoughtful, compassionate, inquisitive and open communication can help to convey genuine care, therefore opening up ways to encourage your loved one to give treatment a try.

Set an example, get help for yourself

You are probably thinking you should not be the one to get help – the one fighting the alcohol and drugs addiction should. One of the best ways to show your loved one that you are concerned and that they can count on you is joining support groups such as NarAnon or AlAnon. These groups not only offer emotional support for families and friends of alcoholics or drug addicts; they also equip you with very specific skills you will need to effectively communicate and support your loved one on their journey through treatment and recovery. Many young adults battling substance abuse are sweet, intelligent and caring individuals. They need an edifice of support to help them change their personal story from one of powerlessness to one of victory, restraint and empowerment.

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