Addiction is a serious and complicated disease. As researchers uncover more information about how drugs and alcohol affect the brain, we have learned that addiction is truly a disease. It is a disease that requires professional treatment. Without that treatment, an addict has little chance of getting better. There are many barriers to treatment, and statistics show that they prevent many Hispanic men and women from getting the care they need. Across all races, though, the first barrier is the individual herself. If you love someone who struggles with substance abuse, you must try to convince her to get help.
Be Patient but Persistent
The first rule of convincing an addict to get help is that you must be patient and expect that it could take a while. Denial is an automatic reaction for most addicts when faced with the facts, and it is a natural response. Although we know addiction is a medical disease, most people still struggle to view addiction as anything other than a moral weakness. No one wants to admit to having this disease. You have to remember that drugs and alcohol have changed her brain in ways that make it almost impossible for her to stop using. The idea of stopping is terrifying for her, and you need to be patient but also keep at it. Don’t give up on her.
Read Your Loved One
If you know your loved one well, you should be able to decide how best to approach her when it’s time to talk about her issue with substance abuse. Whose opinion matters most to her? Enlist that person’s help. Point out whatever is most important in her life and how her addiction is impacting it. For instance, if she has children and they are struggling, use that as leverage to convince her that getting treatment would help everyone. When is she most likely to be sober? Talk to her when you think she is most amenable to listening.
Consider an Intervention
An intervention is an organized group of people confronting an addict to try to force her to see the truth about her situation. An alcohol or drug intervention is not usually the best first step, but when your efforts are unfruitful, you should consider this as a last option. Gather together the people who care about her and practice ahead of time. Ask everyone to be prepared with something to say. Be ready with concrete options for treatment and all of the practical considerations that go along with it, such as payment and child care. Don’t let her find an excuse not to get help.
Can You Force Treatment?
What if your loved one just won’t come around to the idea of getting help? Do you have to let her hit rock bottom? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary in order to work. It is a myth that an addict has to be ready and willing to get help in order for it to work. That would be better, but it isn’t always possible. You will need to check with your state’s laws to find out if you can force a family member into treatment. Some states allow it in certain situations.
Getting help for addiction is necessary. Your loved one won’t stop using on her own. And if she doesn’t stop using, eventually she will die from this disease. Do what you can to get her help, rely on others to help you get her there and, if necessary, see if you can make treatment mandatory for her.