Call Us Now: 0808 271 7500

How Can I Convince My Friend or Relative to Get Help for Addiction?

Woman smiles at other person, onlookers smile.

When a loved one displays symptoms of addictive behaviour that they’re perhaps trying to hide, concerned people are often unsure how to respond or what to say. Before addressing the problem directly, it’s important to understand the nature of addiction and the resources available. 

I am here for Alcohol | Drugs | Other addiction

Addiction and its Problems

They say love hurts, and so does addiction. The two combined, generate a great deal of pain. When a loved one is so deeply in denial that they won’t face facts, the pain becomes prolonged and destructive. It can be an intensely anxious and frustrating time, when people focus vainly on motivating the addicted person to seek help, often without enough knowledge or skill to make it happen. You can lead a horse to water, the saying goes, but what about an alcoholic?

A few things everyone should know about addiction

  • It is an illness. People do not choose to become addicted. An addict is not a bad, stupid or weak person but a good person who is sick.
  • It affects people in three ways: physically (dependence and cravings), mentally (denial and refusal to face facts) and spiritually (dishonesty and immorality).
  • It becomes an obsession so that everything else becomes secondary.
  • It affects loved ones and those closely involved with the addict leading them to abnormal behaviour too. Loved ones can become co-dependant, a state where they cannot be happy unless the addicted person is happy, which leads them to minimise or cover up unacceptable behaviour and become themselves prone to anxiety, anger and depression.
  • There are recognised ways of successfully treating addiction providing the person brings honesty, openness and willingness to change to the process.
  • Addiction is never cured but just like an allergy to a certain food, it can successfully be held in remission provided the sufferer abstains completely. 

Addiction Changes Personalities

It’s hard seeing a loved one in pain. The struggle with addiction can produce uncharacteristic and re-occurring emotions that seem almost like a personality change, making a previously happy-go-lucky person become:

  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Apathetic
  • Short-tempered
  • Depressed
  • Negative in outlook.

Addiction Affects the Whole Family

Addiction affects everyone close to the individual. Thus, you may be worried and alarmed by the changed demeanour of a loved one you suspect has an addiction problem, but you may be quite unaware of the effect it is having on you and your own emotions and behaviour. Some of that sadness, anger and other negativity you see in your loved one may be mirrored in you.

Co-dependence & Addiction

If you find yourself constantly worrying about a loved one’s addiction problem to the extent that your happiness depends on their mood rather than your own, then you may well be in a co-dependent relationship. In extreme cases, whole families can wait anxiously for the affected person to come home, knowing that if their mood is bad or violent, the whole family will suffer. In other cases, a spouse will readily lie or obtain money dishonestly just in order to preserve the myth that the whole family is alright. Unfortunately, such behaviour merely prolongs the pain of an unacceptable situation until an unmanageable crisis inevitably happens.

Although the unhealthy support of addicted people can enable them to continue their pretence as a fully functioning person, the toll on loved ones around them can become unbearable. The mental health of such people will suffer, and they will require help to recover. Happily, this is recognised today, and support is often available from local addiction services as well as the very powerful help provided by fellowships such as Families Anonymous and AlAnon. Anyone who is struggling in this kind of situation would be well advised to contact these fellowships.

addiction-help-free

Signs That Someone Needs Help With Addiction

There are certain behaviours that indicate a person’s mental health has deteriorated due to addiction. The best-known ones include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and colleagues and increased isolation generally
  • Poor sleep patterns and reluctance to get out of bed
  • Forgetfulness and lack of concentration
  • Actual substance abuse and attempts to hide it
  • Poor self-care and personal hygiene
  • Poor concentration and impaired judgment
  • Criticism of self and others and low self-esteem.

There are certain behaviours that indicate a person’s mental health has deteriorated due to addiction. The best-known ones include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and colleagues and increased isolation generally
  • Poor sleep patterns and reluctance to get out of bed
  • Forgetfulness and lack of concentration
  • Actual substance abuse and attempts to hide it
  • Poor self-care and personal hygiene
  • Poor concentration and impaired judgment
  • Criticism of self and others and low self-esteem.

A conversation about the best way to seek help for an illness might seem entirely normal and sensible but unfortunately, addiction makes most situations abnormal. Strong emotions, denial and defensiveness are likely to have an effect. First, consider when, how, and where you should start such a discussion. Here are some factors to remember:

  • Don’t let it be a response to a fight or argument. 
  • Find a suitable place to talk that is private, safe, free from distractions and reasonably comfortable Make sure that there is no time pressure for either of you.
  • Show respect and tell the other person that you feel concerned
  • Keep your tone and language moderate and calm

Attitudes and Approaches That Can Help:

Remember that your loved one may be feeling fearful, anxious or desperate. They may come across as arrogant or aggressive, but they may in fact be trying to hide their fear and despair. Try to be understanding but also remain firm and practical. Your approach should be to show empathy and concern for their well-being. Avoid complaints about how their behaviour is impacting on your life.

Here are some points to remember:

  • Show compassion – approach your loved one with a caring attitude to avoid creating defensive reactions. 
  • Ask questions, rather than giving advice or preaching. “What do you think about the idea of going to therapy?” can be a great conversation starter.
  • Use “I” statements wherever possible, such as “I’m concerned about you”. This helps them feel less blamed or lectured. 
  • Make clear that you want to support, not criticise. They will be more likely to listen when they don’t feel attacked.

Professional Help

The mention of professional help and therapy for mental health can cause anxiety to the person you are talking to, giving rise to thoughts of shame and stigma. Be careful with the language you use and try to normalise the way you discuss treatment. ‘Lots of people find it really helpful to have regular sessions with a professional counsellor’ is much better than saying ‘you should get help for your problem’. The person concerned may have already thought about this. They may be anxious and simply need some support to help make it happen.

Practical Steps

Finding the right kind of professional help can be a daunting task, particularly for a person who is already suffering from addiction. When you discuss the situation together, it can be useful to have already done some homework. This will enable you to have an informative talk about:

  • The prospect of inpatient rehab
  • The local resources such as therapists and support groups that are available
  • The relevant websites dealing with help and therapy for their particular problem
  • Practical aspects of support as they contact, travel and actually attend rehab or therapy sessions.

Self-Awareness

Always remember, when trying to convince a loved one to seek help, that the conversation is about them. However, hurt, frustrated and disappointed you may be feeling, the conversation needs to be about supporting them and meeting their needs. Avoid expressing your own feelings, however stressed you may be – it will only cause more problems. Your primary aim is to offer help and support to your loved one. Be aware however, that you yourself may have reached an emotional state where your own mental health and wellbeing require support and therapy too. 

Getting Help 

At Castle Craig, we offer a drug and alcohol addiction recovery programme that delivers medically managed detoxes and a range of proven therapies, alongside wellbeing, nutritional and pharmacological management.