Convincing Your Loved One to Attend a Rehabilitation Program
Contributing Post by Patrick Bailey
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 19.7 million Americans battled a substance use disorder in 2017. That number seemingly has remained the same throughout the years, meaning many persons with substance use disorders are not recovering fully or not getting the help they deserve. You may even be impacted by this statistic if a loved one close to you is struggling with addiction.
Watching passively as your loved one is enthralled in the grip of addiction is not easy. Whether the addictive substance is opioids, alcohol, amphetamines, or something else, addiction is a serious matter which affects not only people with addictions but also those who surround them.
It’s important to understand the proper ways to go about suggesting they seek assistance. In some cases, approaching a persons with substance use disorders about their habits and suggesting treatment can only make them entrench themselves further into their habits.
You have likely heard of persons with substance use disorders who double down or become angrier and isolate themselves further when confronted with the facts of their addictions and how they’ve changed their lives. Psychologists say that this might occur because of cognitive dissonance.
While addiction is scary and difficult, if you understand how cognitive dissonance works, then you might convince your loved one to finally seek the help they so desperately need.
What Is Cognitive Dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance occurs when an individual holds two contradictory beliefs or values and attempts to make those opposing views more consistent. In some instances, an individual may explain things away, ignore facts, or bend truths to fit the narrative they wish; that’s why it can be so difficult to seek help with alcohol addiction and drug addiction.
The concept of cognitive dissonance relates to addiction and convincing your loved one to find help because many persons with substance use disorders don’t want to admit they have a problem. Your loved one may admit to facts like missing work, not being present for the family, and so on, yet they still might deny a problem.
Your loved one may even go further to suggest the addiction isn’t causing harm, even while admitting to the facts. This is cognitive dissonance, and it can be used by the person with substance use disorders to justify his or her actions and their avoidance of treatment. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to avoid this from becoming a problem.
What Not To Do
When approaching a persons with substance use disorders about their problem, it’s important to make sure that they don’t feel attacked, belittled, or made to feel less than others. This means when reaching out, you need to try to avoid accusing the person with substance use disorders, getting angry at the person, or blaming them for problems.
If you do get emotional, it may be best to pause or step out of the room and allow the person with substance use disorders to see your emotions, but not to direct your feelings at the person with substance use disorders. If you place pressure or anger on the person with substance use disorders for their addiction, then they might turn against you and refuse treatment. Try not to argue with your loved one.
Often, persons with substance use disorders are quite good at deflecting blame and not directly admitting to their addictions. If you end up in an argument about their addiction, you might be feeding into a battle that you cannot and will not win no matter what.
This is the case since the battle taking place is in the head of the person with substance use disorders, it is only the persons with substance use disorders who can make the decision to seek help, and therefore the battle must be won by the persons with substance use disorders themselves. If you do end up in an argument, take a step back and reaffirm your stance that you’ll support them when they seek help, but do not argue about getting help.
It may also be a good idea to go into the discussion assuming they will seek help no matter how much they argue or deflect.
Tips on Talking
Discussing addiction with your loved one is never easy; that’s why you need to set the stage for a conversation that serves you best. First, approach your loved one in a helping/neutral tone and manner. Don’t act aggressively or accusatory.
Next, talk with them when they are sober, or at least not too high or drunk to hold and remember a conversation. Then, suggest a setting they cannot easily avoid or leave. For instance, you may suggest they go on a car ride with you, or sit them down with several family members.
Then, involve your loved one in the conversation and let them take the lead, if necessary. Ask questions that require them to think and give more than yes and no answers. Letting the person with substance use disorders steer the conversation ensures that they don’t feel attacked or cornered, but helps them feel in control.
Finally, you should come prepared in case they resist you. For instance, persons with substance use disorders will agree that seeking help is a good thing but find reasons not to seek help, such as insurance issues, detox fears, and more. Make sure to do your research and present them with facts, but don’t argue with them.
Talking about addiction can be difficult, but your honesty and care can help your loved ones find the assistance they need.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.
www.samhsa.gov – National Institute on Drug Abuse
healthline.com – 5 Everyday Examples of Cognitive Dissonance
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