What to say to a loved one in addiction

At Spirit Mountain Recovery the above noted comment is one of the most often asked questions we get from mothers, fathers, wives, siblings and grandparents in a family suffering from the effects of drug or alcohol addiction. Being able to say the right thing that motivates a person to seek treatment is not easy. It often doesn’t work. Accepting that fact should provide you with some much needed relief because trying to control the uncontrollable just doesn’t work.

Someone struggling with drug addiction isn’t thinking logically or reasonably. They are under the influence of powerfully addictive substances and need help. The help they need is professional help. Family members or significant others around them are not qualified to guide them through recovery. We understand that and our guests confirm that fact to us.

Before exploring this very frustrating situation of trying to get your loved one to commit to drug rehabilitation, let’s first ask this very basic question.  Should I even be trying to get them to engage in treatment?  Short answer is yes. There is no need to wait until they hit “rock bottom” as many people may tell you. It is likely that your loved one has already hit a bottom and likely a number of previous bottoms.

Rock bottoms are hard to measure and every rock bottom involves considerable pain and suffering to the person afflicted and their family. Also, waiting for a rock bottom is a very dangerous thing to do in this age of illicit drugs often spiked with deadly other substances.

So What Can Be Done?

There is a lot of advice out there on how to deal with this issue of getting your loved one to engage in drug treatment, but no easy or consistent answer. The success anyone will have getting anyone to engage treatment will depend to a great degree on whether the person suffering realizes or admits they have a problem and whether they are willing to commit themselves to the recovery process.

Aside from someone willing to go to treatment, even reluctantly, what I can tell you from my experience is that there is no amount of incentivizing, bargaining, bribing, cajoling, shaming or logic that works if your badly addicted loved one is unwilling to go to treatment.

No amount of forcing them to go, but there are some things you can do that will make it increasingly aware to them of what you will or won’t do unless they engage drug treatment. Some personal bottom lines they need to come to know about you.

Ideally, your loved one will commit an inpatient drug treatment so critical in initial recovery from addiction. Far away from the toxic people, places and things that are now triggering them to use drugs as a solution to life.

The Advice of Medical, Clinical or Interventionists

Most of the advice on dealing with substance addiction today is from psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers or interventionists. This I call the top down approach. The sum of their collective advice is for you to tell your loved one that you will not continue to enable their addiction by supporting them with the creature comforts of home, like a place to live and eat, a car or in any other way financially.

The above advice is excellent, but I would like to supplement it with a “bottom up” approach from the personal perspective of Spirit Mountain Recovery’s significantly Recovered Peer Support Staff. These talented people bring a “think outside the box” dynamic in relation to treating addiction. Their unique perspective comes from actually having lived through drug addiction and what it takes to recover.

The Advice of Spirit Mountain Recovery’s Solidly Recovered Peer Support Staff  

When asked Spirit Mountain’s Peer Support Staff what a family member or significant other could have said to them that might have had them going to drug treatment sooner. Their responses are very enlightening.  First hand advice from guys who had heard all the pleading and begging done by family members or significant others to try and get them to seek out treatment.

Following is a summary of Spirit Mountain’s Peer Support Staff’s advice to parents who are most often enabling them to remain “acting out” or actively engaged in their addiction:

  1. Please say no to me when I ask to live, eat and hang out at home as if nothing was wrong with my drug use. No to any requests I make for money. I can’t trust myself. It will very likely go to purchasing drugs. That, when I do ask for support, you would say to me in a loving way “I will ONLY support helping you find and be able to afford a Residential, Day or Intensive Outpatient drug treatment program.”
  2. It will be near impossible to deal with me while I am high on my drug of choice. Chances for a meaningful discussion on engaging treatment won’t be my priority. Sorry I can’t help myself.
  3. When you do catch me in a lucid moment please realize that “recovery talks” with family will most likely will not work. The conversation I need to hear should be from professionals who work in the field of drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Please refer me to them.
  4. Seeing an Interventionist could work. I love it that my family thinks this could help me.
  5. If I do commit to try residential treatment please help me find a safe, comfortable, highly personalized environment where I can be with a staff that gets me. A place where they can help me get a reprieve from the abysmal loneliness and dysfunction of my current life. To be shown a more genuine solution for my life than the one I am currently living.

Spirit Mountain Recovery – Here to Help!

We are one of the most remarkable Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Disorder Residential, Day and Intensive Outpatient Treatment Centers in the United States. We pride ourselves in coming along side your loved one and helping them to reset their life. A life that will be more joyous and happy than they can ever imagine. To spread a message of hope.

Recovering from drug addiction with us on the side of a mountain in the beautiful Ogden Valley of Utah is extremely effective.  SMR is staffed by an amazingly  knowledgeable medical, clinical and Peer Support Staff. Fully licensed by the State of Utah and Accredited by The Joint Commission (JCAHO).