How to Get an Addict to Seek Help

sad woman looking out window

The family members of an addicted person often watch in horror as everything valuable to the addict is lost. Relationships are destroyed as the addicted person steals and lies repeatedly. It’s common for a spouse to leave and take children away for their protection.

But this doesn’t mean that the family just sat idly by while all this destruction took place. In most cases, they have made repeated appeals to the addicted person to please quit using drugs or drinking. When it became obvious that the problem was not going to go away, they usually began to look for a rehab program. Where things stalled was in trying to get the addicted person into the program.

The bitter truth of addiction is that the condition itself prevents its own resolution. A rehab program can be prepared to accept the person but he (or she) very often disappears instead of starting the program that could save his life. To get this person into rehab, the first thing a family needs to do is understand why this happens.

Inside the World of an Addicted Person

young depressed teen in dark hallway

Once a person has been addicted for a while, he has lost the concept of enjoying life sober. He feels he needs the drug he is addicted just to function, just to feel normal, just to prevent the sickness of withdrawal. Most addicts are not really getting high anymore, they are just maintaining the addiction, especially when jobs and money and anything else of value has been lost. But if the drug is withdrawn, the cravings will make him crazy enough to do whatever it takes to get more of the drug. It’s as vital as air, water or food.

He has done many things he is terribly ashamed of. He may have sold drugs and some of the people he sold them to may have overdosed. He could have had someone die right in front of him. Many addicts steal from family and friends or may commit burglary or muggings to get money for drugs. Both males and females may have prostituted themselves just to have a place to stay or to get drugs. He could have been arrested and felt even further disgraced. He also knows he has broken the hearts of those who love him.

But this person is not a criminal at heart. So she is ashamed. At some level, she cares and remembers it wasn’t always this way. If she faces her family, she will be vividly reminded of how it used to be.

Drugs of all kinds drown out pain and worry. They lower awareness. When under the influence of drugs or drinks, it’s possible for the addicted person to put the destruction out of her mind. Most of the time, she can ignore the physical deterioration and the mental and spiritual devastation.

If she considers getting sober, all this destruction, pain, sickness, guilt and depression threatens to overwhelm her. It’s no wonder that she runs.

How to Approach the Person About Rehab

helping an addict

In many cases, this is best done by an experienced interventionist because the family is normally so distraught and emotionally involved, it’s hard to make a calm appeal to the addict. But it can be done if the family is strong and determined enough.

The addicted person will need to be approached at a time of day that he is normally the most sober.

This is usually when he first gets up from sleeping. The individual chosen to talk to him must be the calmest, disciplined and authoritative person in the family, hopefully, one that commands some respect from the addict.

It’s useless to make any accusation or criticism.

The only thing that will work is to make the addicted person feel safe by talking calmly. Get him to talk about the current problem, engage him in looking at the situation being created for himself by the drug use.

He will often accuse others of causing him to be this way, he will find fault and shift blame. This is just part of the personality created by drug use. Gently explain to him how life could be if he got sober. Ask him to remember what life was life back before drug use started—always gently, patiently.

Be alert for any comment on how he’s tired of using drugs or wishes he could stop.

If this comment comes up, don’t pounce on it. Just encourage the person gently and offer help. Remember that in his heart, he wishes to get off drugs, he wishes he could go back to the way he was before. This is true no matter what words come out of his mouth. It just doesn't seem possible at the time.

If he finally makes a definite statement about wanting to be done with drugs or drink, tell him about the rehab you have found for him. Yes, you need to line this up before this conversation so that when this moment comes, you can basically just pack his bags and take him to the rehab center. Make that transition as fast as possible because when withdrawal begins to kick in, it is best if he is among people who can support him and have the knowledge and experience to make the process as tolerable as possible. If he is still home while trying to get through withdrawal, the urge to use is so strong he will take off to get more drugs and you will have to start all over again.

If you take every step described here and it doesn’t work, all is not lost. Now is the time to call a professional interventionist. This will greatly increase the chances of success.

The Narconon network of rehabilitation centers knows the value of expert intervention and maintains relationships with successful interventionists in many parts of the world.

Once your loved one arrives at rehab, he needs a program that gives him the time to undo this damage and find relief from his overwhelming guilt. He will need to rebuild his sober living skills in order to stay drug-free after he leaves. For five decades Narconon drug rehab centers have offered just this kind of help to those addicted to all kinds of drugs or alcohol. Give us a call to learn how the Narconon program can help your loved one recover from this damage and come back to life.