Question: Should I pressure someone struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction into rehab? Do people who are forced into treatment get anything out of it?
Answer: Yes, and yes. People who are not initially willing or ready to go into treatment have the same chance of recovery as those who come voluntarily to treatment.
For years, conventional wisdom has stated otherwise: that treatment will work only for those who seek it. However, very few addicts seek treatment on their own. The nature of addiction makes it nearly impossible for the dependent person to admit or even recognize that he or she has a problem. Why my loved one can’t stop
In the rare case that they do, it is not until an overwhelming and devastating event or series of events often called “rock bottom” occurs. Something comes along that shakes them up so sufficiently, they’d rather accept help than continue drinking or using. Often rock bottom means a loss of relationships, destruction of family, financial ruin, jail, hospitalization and ultimately, death. Learn more about denial and rock bottom
What does it take for someone struggling with an addiction to accept help before it’s too late?
Vernon E. Johnson developed the idea of motivating an individual to treatment before they “hit rock bottom.” Through a process called intervention, family and friends can lovingly confront their loved one about their addiction and motivate them to get treatment.
Each individual that participates in the intervention carries enough weight or leverage to dispense consequences if the loved one chooses to continue drinking or using. Leverage is never a threat or a punishment but the refusal to continue enabling the disease of addiction.
An intervention is about firmness rather than force. An intervention is not a verbal attack, but an act of love and care. An intervention is not waiting for rock bottom, but a way of raising the bottom.
Once in treatment, the addicted individual develops insight into the depths of the disease of addiction. Surrounded by supportive counselors, understanding peers, and an honest environment, the individual often becomes an active participant in his or her own treatment.
What about the role of personal responsibility?
Some people argue with the old proverb, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Others insist, “You can’t help an addict until he’s ready for help.”
Undoubtedly, the addicted individual is the only one who can decide to respond to treatment. Addiction is a battle against self, a battle that he or she must choose to fight.
Although family and friends cannot force change, they can encourage and support the decision process. Family and friends can show the reality and destruction of addiction, the need for help, and the importance of personal responsibility. They can use leverage. They can raise rock bottom. They can fight with their loved one, although they cannot fight in place of their loved one.
Additionally, you cannot assume that a person who begins unwillingly will always fail, just as you cannot say a person who proactively enters treatment with good intentions will succeed. Many factors play a role in the development of motivation—including an encouraging support system.
Don’t assume the worst. A push in the right direction can be the first step towards a new life.
For more information on interventions, you can download our free Intervention Guide today.