How to Help an Addict Who Doesn’t Want Help
Addiction is a chronic disease that affects both the mind and body. When someone you love is addicted to a substance, their brain becomes rewired to experience strong cravings for the drug.
Using a substance repeatedly causes the pleasure and reward system of the brain to associate drug use with feelings of happiness. If an individual does not use the drugs or alcohol they crave, the pleasure and reward system of their brain malfunctions. This is why addicted individuals prioritize their drug use over everything else in their lives.
When an addict is confronted with the idea of professional treatment and sobriety, it is common for them to panic. Feelings of anger, fear, confusion, denial, and even hopelessness may arise. They might be completely unaware of the severity of their substance abuse or unwilling to give up the numbing emotional effects that drugs and alcohol provide them. Whatever the reason may be, many addicts have a difficult time accepting help.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, you may be wondering how to help them when they refuse professional treatment. Knowing how to help an addict who doesn’t want help can save a loved one’s life.
Common Reasons Why Some Addicts Don’t Want Help
If your loved one is suffering from addiction and refusing help, you might be feeling angry and confused. You might also fear for their safety, as drug addiction can cause life-threatening effects.
It is normal to wonder why your addicted loved one would want to continue to suffer at the hands of addiction. From the outside looking in, it may seem like the addict is purposely destroying their life.
It is important to remember that addiction is a complicated disease of the mind and body. Addiction causes individuals to lose their ability to make healthy and rational choices, as the consumption of drugs and alcohol completely takes over their lives.
The most common reasons that some addicts refuse professional help include:
- Denial- They do not recognize that they have a problem.
- Refusal- They are unable to make rational choices due to the way that addiction has affected their brain.
- Guilt/Shame- They feel so ashamed of their drug abuse that they cannot admit that they need help.
- Fear of Withdrawal- They are afraid of the withdrawal symptoms that occur when they stop using their drug of choice.
- Mental Illness- They suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition that causes them to engage in self-destructive behaviors.
- Cost/Lack of Insurance- They are worried about the cost of rehab and/or do not have insurance.
Whether an addict is refusing help due to denial, mental illness, or the cost of rehab, there are ways for you to help them.
It is important to remember that you should never confront an addict in an angry or accusing manner. Individuals suffering from addiction require ongoing love and support, otherwise, they may become defensive, combative, or isolate themselves from you altogether.
How to Help an Addict Who Doesn’t Want Help
Helping an addict accept professional treatment is a delicate process. If you are too harsh, they may pull away from you completely. On the other hand, enabling them will only further their addiction issues. Keeping this in mind, there are ways to uphold boundaries with an addicted loved one while remaining supportive and caring.
Educate Yourself About The Disease of Addiction
The first thing you should do is educate yourself about the disease of addiction. You must understand what is causing your addicted loved one’s emotions and behaviors before you can begin to help them heal. Additionally, being educated on addiction treatment is of the utmost importance. If you are approaching an addict intending to convince them to accept help, you need to know how professional addiction treatment works.
Don’t Enable Them
One of the most important aspects of helping an addict is ending all of your enabling behaviors. Enabling is extremely common among the loved ones of addicts because all you want to do is help. In fact, you might be unintentionally enabling your loved one. For example, if you are helping them financially or lying for them to help them hide their drug use, you are enabling their addiction.
For an addict to accept professional addiction treatment, they need to feel the consequences and reality of their drug addiction. If you’re preventing them from experiencing consequences, they will continue to abuse substances. When you stop enabling an addict, they will begin to realize the severity of their addiction and become more likely to accept help.
Set and Enforce Healthy Boundaries
Setting and enforcing healthy boundaries is a part of ending your enabling behaviors. It is also one of the most important steps in helping an addict who doesn’t want help. Without boundaries, the addict will continue to think that you will support their substance abuse.
Examples of healthy boundaries include:
- Refusing to give them money
- If they are a child, taking away their car, grounding them, or sending them to rehab
- Not allowing them in the home when they are under the influence
- Refusing to be around them until they accept professional help
Help Them Schedule a Doctor’s Visit
If your loved one is refusing help for addiction, it may be wise to bring them in for a “regular check-up” at a doctor’s office. Make the appointment and inform the doctor of their addiction issues ahead of time.
The doctor will be able to provide their professional medical opinion about your loved one’s substance abuse and recommend for them to attend a form of addiction treatment. Sometimes, addicts will accept the opinions of professionals over their loved ones because the concern is coming from an unbiased source.
Continue Offering Your Support
Sometimes, having a non-confrontational conversation with your addicted loved one and letting them know you support them is all they need. While this may seem like an obvious answer, you might want to try avoiding the topic of addiction completely.
Simply have a nuanced conversation with your addicted loved one, letting them know that you support them and love them no matter what. Even if they don’t ask for help right away, remaining supportive and showing up for them when they need it the most will show them that you are there for them when they’re ready.
Find Help for Yourself or An Addicted Loved One Today
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and are ready to accept help, you’ve come to the right place. Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a substance abuse recovery program that provides an array of evidence-based addiction treatment services. From opioid addiction treatment to alcoholism treatment, we can provide you or your loved one with the help you deserve. Contact us today for more information on how to get started.