10 Ways to Tell a Drug Addict They Need Rehab

by Sherry Gaba on July 4, 2011
This post was written and provided by Gregg Gustafson who is a freelance writer and consultant for Drug-Rehab.org. Gustafson works with individuals who suffer from drug abuse on a daily basis in turn referring them to some of the most prestige long term drug rehab centers active today.

As the percentage of Americans reporting problems with drug addiction continues to rise toward 10%, the options for acquiring professional help also increase. Drug and alcohol treatment centers, beginning in the 1960s, have progressively become more available, including being covered by many traditional health insurance plans. Help is available.

But how to get the addict to the drug treatment facility is often the hardest part, particularly for family members and loved ones. We care, we’re concerned, and we want to help, but how? Drug abuse and addiction is an equal-opportunity disease, affecting not just the addict but those around him or her, and often lines of communication are frayed if not severed.

Here are some suggestions, then, are doing your part to ensure the possibility of recovery for the addict in your life, and keeping yourself safe and sane at the same time.

1. Don’t enable. Codependency is the stepsister of addiction, and sometimes just as devastating. Don’t cover for the addict, call him in sick, pick up her mess, pay for the damage. The sooner the addict sees the trouble for himself, the sooner he can start to get better.

2. Be available. Not enabling doesn’t mean completely shutting them off. Be willing to talk.

3. Use resources. Literature and videos are widely available from and about drug treatment centers; having them around might provide an opening for a discussion.

4. Hold up a mirror. As the disease of drug addiction progresses, addicts tend to enter stasis, almost suspended animation. Their lives remain the same, unchanged, as focus centers on protecting their use. It can sometimes be a wake-up call if they notice the rest of the world is moving on while they stay in one place. Refusing to be caught up in the addict’s same-old, same-old might give them a reflection of their own static lives, and inspire them to think about change.

5. Control your space. If the addict in your life lives with you, make boundaries and keep them. If your home is a drug-free space, enforce that rigorously. Knowing the rules can create a situation in which help can seem an option.

6. Enlist a medical professional. Sometimes a white coat makes all the difference. Depending on the age of the addict in your life, it might be possible to set up a discussion about addiction. A professional setting and demeanor can sometimes take the sting out of an uncomfortable subject on the table.

7. Make peer pressure work for you. Addicts tend to associate with other addicts, at least eventually, but everybody needs friends and friends can provide enormous support. It’s a delicate situation, but often an addict will listen to peers before family.

8. Detach. It’s the hardest thing for the loved ones of an addict to do, and yet so necessary. You can’t take the bottle away from the alcoholic; they will just get another. But you can remove yourself, emotionally and even physically. Think of it as basic airline behavior: You put the oxygen mask over your own mouth first. Sometimes it takes a while, but eventually an addict might notice he’s in the room all by himself and nobody wants to be lonely.

9. Use a recovering addict. Chemical dependency is a pervasive and not uncommon disease, affecting millions of people. It’s possible, even likely, that you know a recovering addict, or know someone who does. Often people in recovery believe they sustain their sobriety by helping other addicts who still suffer, and are very willing to come over and talk in a nonjudgmental way. Only someone who has truly walked the same path understands how to get back home.

10. Stage an intervention. Forget the hype and the reality TV. Interventions for drug addictions are carried out every day, and don’t necessarily have to be traumatic or dramatic. Demonstrating to the still-suffering addict that he or she has people who care, who are concerned and who want to help often provides the spark that ends with an admission to a drug treatment center. It’s crucial, though, to know what you’re doing and have an established plan. There are chemical dependency professionals who specialize in interventions; contacting a drug treatment facility is often the best place to start.

You can lead a horse to water, the proverb says, but you can’t make him drink. The decision to enter into a treatment program is ultimately the choice of the addict, who often is in no shape to make any kind of decision. Know that you can help, though, as frustrating and disappointing as your efforts can be. And that sometimes your help will be the beginning of the change both you and your addict desperately need.

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