Until you've walked in your addicted loved one's shoes, it's difficult to understand why taking a hard line with him or her just doesn't work. While you may go on to question the addict about their life choices with the hope that they quit, the difference between dictating and inspiring him or her to change can be quite profound, especially when your loved one is still in the soul-sucking cycle.
Each person can benefit from various approaches, but here are 3 things you can try to do to help. Often, these could mean the difference between a person deciding to seek recovery within months, to someone who dwindles in addiction for many years before getting help—if that.
1. Educate yourself on the disease of addiction.
Addiction is a disease. Someone who is living with a substance use disorder and self-medicating themselves with harmful drugs is not capable of stopping cold turkey. Just as you wouldn't expect a person with a chronic disease to get better without help, you can't expect the addict to just cure themselves. Preaching to an addict about the dangers of drugs and expecting them to have an "Aha!" moment is simply unreasonable. If you fully understand the disease, the schools of thought around it and why your loved one is doing what they do, at least you'll be able to cope better and begin to approach your addicted loved one from an informed perspective.
2. Love the addict, not the addiction.
This one sounds like a given, but love isn't just a feeling. It's an action too. This doesn't mean to enable all their will and desires even if it's not the best for them. This means to show them you care about their overall well-being.
Don't give them money, but feed them if they come asking for money for food. While they probably want the money, they'll likely take the food. They might be high, but hug them. Keep the boundaries you have set. Don't give in to your feelings of guilt, but do talk to them and treat them like a human when you do interact.
Let them know you are always there and that when they're ready to get help, you will be first in line to do what you can. Kindness to any human goes a long way. Even in their drug addled mind, they will remember your kindness. They'll understand that they can come to you and that you won't steer them in the wrong direction—even if their addiction is pulling them that way.
3. Be ready.
A day will come, the right moment in time, when your loved one may be ready to try to seek help. Be prepared to take them to a program that you've already vetted, will take their insurance or that you can afford. Know where the NA and AA meetings are in your area and go with them if they want to take that step. Offer up these options to your loved one every chance you get.
Most of all, remember to speak to them, not preach to them, or they won't listen. Be prepared, because the opportunity may be fleeting and you will need to seize the moment. If they finally ask for help, you cannot put it off. To start investigating nearby facilities or learn about various treatment options, here's a list of full-service rehabs to search through.
No Right or Wrong Answers
There really is no magic recipe that will bring an addict around to seeking treatment. Between commanding the addict to get better at will versus motivating him or her with knowledge and understanding, which tactic do you think will better resonate with your loved one? This is not to say that forced intervention is not effective, but that knowing what you're dealing with can help you improve your strategy.
The addict knowing that they have someone in their corner who is educated on the disease, has examined the best options, and truly has their best interest at heart can be the difference in a heated and disconnected exchange that leaves him or her feeling ordered, rather than galvanized to recover. After all, recovery is a path they will have to walk with their own two feet.