Being forced to sit back and watch one of your loved ones battle with drug or alcohol addiction is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do.
It can be especially difficult when the person steadfastly refuses to get professional help for their problem. There are more than 14,000 treatment centers scattered all across the country right now, but they won’t do you much good if that person won’t consider checking themselves into one.
If you’re currently dealing with this situation, you can make it slightly better by learning how to live with an addict who refuses to seek treatment. There are steps you can take that will help you cope with the problem.
You can’t force a person to take themselves to a rehab center. But you can do your part to make life more manageable.
Here is an emergency guide for you to follow.
Accept That Your Loved One Has a Problem
More often than not, addicts refuse to get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction because they’ve managed to convince themselves that they don’t have a problem.
Addicts know about their problems better than anyone else. They experience them first-hand on a day in and day out basis. And yet, they’re sometimes so close to the problem at hand that they have a hard time seeing it.
You shouldn’t have a hard time seeing the problem, though. And if you see it, you should make it a point to accept it sooner than later.
Accepting addiction can be challenging because it forces you to admit that your loved one has a problem that they can’t control. But by accepting it, you’ll be less likely to make excuses for them or cover for the bad behavior they exhibit as a result of their addiction.
Attempt to Gauge How Bad Their Problem Is
How bad is your loved one’s drug or alcohol problem?
Did they just start using a particular drug over the course of the last few weeks? Or have they been a full-blown alcoholic for more than 10 years now?
Either way, there’s still a good chance that they need to get professional help for their problem. But you should try to gauge how bad their problem is since that could play a big part in how willing (or unwilling!) they are to consider treatment.
If your loved one just started using cocaine, heroin, or another drug in recent weeks, they might not consider themselves an addict just yet. They might think they have their drug use totally under control.
By gauging your loved one’s drug problem, you can monitor it closely and look for signs that’ll show you that it has gotten worse. You might want to alter your approach to dealing with your loved one as you move forward based on how bad things get.
Learn as Much as You Can About Their Addiction
If you don’t know a lot about the addiction that your loved one is dealing with at the moment, you’re likely going to say and do the wrong things when you try to discuss it with them.
For example, there are many parents who will ask their kids why they can’t “just stop” using a drug like heroin. They don’t have the slightest clue how difficult it is for those who are addicted to a drug like heroin to get off it.
There are also many teenagers who watch their parents go back to the bottle over and over again due to their alcoholism. And they struggle to understand why they do it. They can’t wrap their heads around why mom or dad is drinking again after all the chaos their drinking has caused in the past.
Take the time to read about addiction and what it can do to a person. There are so many books and online resources available to you. They’ll teach you how to live with an addict and how to talk to that addict about their problem.
Avoid Enabling Them at All Costs
Enabling an addict while living under the same roof as them is just about the worst thing that you can do. When you enable a person, you basically give them the freedom to continue using drugs or alcohol without facing any consequences.
There are so many ways in which people enable their loved ones when they’re battling with addiction. Some do it by letting them use drugs or drink alcohol in their homes, while others do it by taking care of their bills for them, which gives them more money to spend on drugs or alcohol.
Here are some ways you can avoid enabling your loved one:
- Refuse to allow your loved one to use drugs or drink alcohol while living in your home
- Stop making excuses for your loved one’s problem
- Let your loved one take care of any responsibilities they might have on their own
- Say no if your loved one asks you for money, regardless of what they might say it’s for
- Steer clear of bailing your loved one out of legal issues
Let your loved one know that you’re not going to enable their behavior anymore. And once you say that, stick to it to show them you’re serious.
Let Them Know You Still Love and Support Them
While you should let your loved one know, in no uncertain terms, that you’re not going to enable them, that doesn’t mean you need to turn your back on them altogether.
In addition to talking to your loved one about not enabling them, you should also point out that you still love and support them. Additionally, you should let them know that, if they choose to get help, you’ll be right there by their side the whole time.
It’ll ultimately be up to your loved one to get the treatment they need. But it might help them to know that you won’t be abandoning them completely, even if they don’t decide to get treatment right away.
Encourage Them to Schedule a Doctor’s Visit
Do you feel like you’re talking to yourself these days when you talk to your loved one about addiction?
At some point, an addict might start to tune you out when you try speaking with them about their addiction. They might even tell you to shut up and let you know that they don’t want to hear you talk to them about addiction anymore.
If you ever reach this point, it’s not a bad idea to try and encourage your loved one to schedule a routine doctor’s visit. You don’t even have to mention the word “addiction” when you do it, as everyone should see a doctor for a physical at least once a year.
If you’re able to convince your loved one to see a doctor, the doctor might be able to offer up a fresh perspective on the issue of addiction. They can show your loved one what their addiction is doing to their body and change the way they think about their drug or alcohol use.
Talk to Them About Their Treatment Options
No matter how many times your loved one tells you that they don’t have a problem, you should continue to stress the importance of them considering treatment at some point in time.
Get your hands on as many drug and alcohol treatment pamphlets as you can and leave them in a central location in your home. Your loved one might ignore them the first 50 times they walk by them. But maybe on the 51st time, it could spark their interest and make them reconsider the idea of seeking drug or alcohol treatment.
You could very well hear the word “no” over and over again when you live with an addict. But you shouldn’t allow that to stop you from bringing up your loved one’s treatment options early and often.
Consider Staging an Intervention
If you’re at the end of your rope and just can’t deal with living with an addict anymore, it might be time to pull out all the stops. And that might include staging an intervention with your loved one to let them know how much their addiction is affecting their family members and friends.
Interventions have, unfortunately, been dramatized on TV so often that they seem silly to some people. But they’re actually very effective when you use them properly.
Rather than trying to stage the intervention on your own, you should bring in a professional who has plenty of experience with interventions. You should also talk to those closest to your loved one and get them involved.
During an intervention, you and the rest of the people in attendance will go around the room and read letters that you have prepared for your loved one. In your letters, you’ll each talk about how your loved one’s addiction has impacted your life.
The goal isn’t to make the addict in the room feel worthless. It’s to shine a spotlight on the problem that they have so that they can see it clearly. Many times, a person will see the damage that their addiction has done for the first time and agree to check themselves into a rehab facility.
Interventions don’t have a 100 percent success rate. But if you’ve tried just about everything and don’t know what else to do, consider staging one. It might end up being exactly what your loved one needs.
Make Sure You’re Taking Care of Your Own Needs
It’s not out of ordinary for those living with an addict to put their own lives on hold to try and get their loved one the help they need. Parents of addicts, in particular, will sometimes stop living their lives in an effort to care for their children as they battle addiction.
It’s natural to want to do this. But you shouldn’t stop taking care of your own personal needs simply because your loved one is struggling with addiction. You should continue to care for yourself by nourishing your mind, body, and soul.
You can do this by:
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Getting more than enough exercise
- Spending time with family members and friends
- Attending church or other spiritual activities
- Taking part in fun activities and hobbies
You might also want to think about potentially joining a support group designed to help those who have a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol. You’ll get all the support you need to make it through this incredibly tough time in your life.
Try Your Best to Keep Hope Alive
When your loved one is stuck deep in the throes of drug or alcohol addiction, it’s easy to lose hope. At some point, you might even feel like giving up on your loved one.
But you should try your best not to do this!
There are more than 20 million Americans who have overcome an addiction to drug or alcohol addiction in the past. And that number is growing with every passing year. It proves that people can get help and beat addiction once and for all when they commit to doing it.
Keep that in mind on your darkest days and push yourself to stay hopeful, both for your sake and for the sake of your loved one. It should provide you with the motivation you need to continue moving forward during the toughest of times.
Learning How to Live With an Addict Is Challenging
There is absolutely nothing fun about learning how to live with an addict who won’t get help. It will push you to the brink and force you to second-guess every single decision you make.
But as long as you follow the steps listed here, you and your loved one should both stand a chance in the ongoing fight with addiction. You’ll keep the lines of communication with your loved one open and increase the chances of them coming to you for help.