How to Deal With an Addict Who Refuses Treatment
Understanding and accepting that your loved one doesn’t want treatment right now is hard. If you accept it, you feel like you’re giving up on them.
If you push it harder, you fear that they’ll hate you or you’ll push them deeper in. We hear that.
Here’s the good news: accepting that they’re not willing to get treatment right now is temporary. It doesn’t mean they’ll never get treatment or that you failed anything.
If you’re fighting yourself because you feel responsible, you won’t have the energy to encourage your friend. There’s not one right way on how to deal with an addict, but these tips will help you try.
Once you can admit to yourself that this state you’re in is temporary and it’s not your fault you can keep being a supportive friend.
Assess the Situation
Where is your loved one in the cycle of addiction? Are they so deep in they can’t see anything except how to get their substance?
Or are they still semi-aware of their behaviors? Catching people in the earlier stages of an addiction is easier on everybody, but it doesn’t always happen.
Addicts get sneaky and you may not realize they have a problem until they’re already up to their shoulders in the deep end.
Look at your loved one’s behavior and figure out where they are in the cycle of addiction. The stages are:
Once you know where they are on this cycle, the rehab center you’re working with can give you strategies for that stage. The same thing that will work for someone abusing drugs won’t work for a full-on addict.
Recommend a Checkup
If your addict won’t admit they have a problem or are denying to themselves, ask them to schedule a regular checkup. Tell the doctor beforehand that you’re worried about an addiction problem.
Addicts lie to continue their addictions because their brain clarity is fogged by their desire for substances. If the doctor knows substances are the issue, they can look past the lies.
It may not help. That is, unfortunately, the reality for most of the steps in the process. An addict will not get help or participate in rehab if they don’t want to be sober.
However, hearing they have a problem with a medical professional may have more weight. They love you and appreciate your opinion, but a doctor is a figure of authority.
The doctor can deliver a wake-up call about what can happen to their health if they don’t get a handle on their addiction too.
You cannot give money to an addict. Even if they tell you they’re going to steal or break the law to get the substance.
If you give them money, you’re an enabler. If they get caught doing something illegal, the authorities can organize a route of treatment in jail.
If you’re worried they’re going to harm themselves or others in the pursuit of drugs, you can call in a psych check.
This is where the cops come and make sure the person is okay – it’s like a supervised time out. They may also take them to the psych ward in the hospital, where they can get medical treatment at least for the harm their addiction is doing to their body.
Offer Your Support
If you tell the addict, “you’re cut off, I won’t give you any more money because you’re an addict” they’re not going to take it well.
You need to come from and use language in a place of support. Tell them you love them and you’re here for them no matter what, but you can’t help them keep hurting themselves.
You can tell them how their addiction is hurting you, but try not to lay on the guilt too thick. The addict likely feels bad and is fighting some emotional demons, so there’s no need to add any on.
You’re not trying to shame them out of their addiction. It’s a light reminder that their actions have consequences for other people as well.
Break Their Routine
Does your friend with an addiction always go out to parties or to an enablers house? Invite them out on fun activities that don’t involve drugs.
They’re liable to be grumpy if they’re sober – but remember that this activity is more for them than for you.
They might also show up high – you have to know that’s a possibility. Try not to get mad at them. Treat them like you normally would and try to remind them they can have a fun time without drugs.
Do some research on the detoxification symptoms your friend may go through. They’re different for each substance.
If you can, have some water or Tylenol on hand for when they get a headache. Learn the signs of the worst symptoms so you can get them immediate medical help.
Get Professional Help
If nothing you’ve tried has worked, you may need to take them to a professional rehab facility. Some facilities have intervention directors that can come to you, so it’s less suspicious.
An intervention isn’t as glamorous as the TV show made it seem – so get ready to cry a lot.
In the end, only the addict decides when they’re ready, but once they’re sober they’ll thank you for your help.
Final Words: How to Deal With an Addict
When there’s an addict in your life you need to set boundaries. You don’t want to block them out of your life completely, but do let them know you don’t want them around your kids (for example) if they’re high.
Be kind, but clear and let them know if they’re sober, they’re always welcome. The best way how to deal with an addict? With love. They’re hurting too!
To talk to someone about the addict in your life, call us at our treatment center in Elgin, Illinois.
We’re here for you.