When a family member or friend abuses substances, their addiction can affect you just as much it impacts your loved one. Watching someone you love make harmful decisions may provoke you to action, but actually helping your loved one can be difficult to do if they’re in denial about their substance use. Dealing with an addicted loved one in denial can be frustrating, but don’t lose hope. Here are some proven techniques and methods you can use to help a loved one who is in denial about their addiction.
How To Help A Loved One In Denial
Before you decide to take action, you need to perceive your loved one with compassion, not anger. Approaching your loved one with anger will likely make them defensive, which may cause them to deny their substance use even more. Instead, be honest but calm, specific but gentle, stern but thoughtful and compassionate.
Once you have the right perspective, you can help your loved one face the reality of their substance use through three options:
- Organizing an intervention
- Pursuing involuntary commitment
- Relinquishing control and letting your loved one deal with the consequences of their actions
Stage an Intervention
An intervention is an organized and carefully planned attempt to approach a loved one about their drinking or drug use. During an intervention, you and your loved one’s friends, family, and co-workers gather together to talk to your loved one about the consequences of their substance use. Despite what you might think, interventions don’t have to be confrontational. The ultimate goal of an intervention is to motivate your loved one to seek treatment and professional help.
The intervention should also:
- Provide specific examples of their harmful behavior
- Offer a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals, and guidelines
- Explain what each person will do if your loved one refuses to accept treatment
There are many different types of interventions, but typically, they fall into one of two categories:
- The surprise intervention. In this situation, your loved one won’t know about the event until they arrive at the intervention meeting spot. You may want to orchestrate this intervention to help your loved one stop denying their problem. But without the help of a certified intervention specialist, surprise interventions can be confrontational and unproductive.
- The planned intervention. During a planned intervention, you and other family members and friends meet with a certified intervention specialist to determine techniques and methods that can help make the intervention a success. During planned interventions, you and other family members and friends can provide concrete examples of how addiction has negatively impacted your loved one’s life. You’ll also talk about how much you want your loved one to get better. Ultimately your goal is to have your loved one directly enroll in a treatment program after the intervention.
Pursue Involuntary Commitment
Depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s substance use, you may want to pursue involuntary commitment. Through this process, a loved one can be legally enrolled in an addiction treatment program against their will. Every state treats involuntary treatment differently so you’ll need to do your research, but this can be an effective option if you’re loved one’s denial of their addictive behavior puts them in danger of harming themselves or others.
Set Boundaries and Let Go
This may be the most difficult way to help your loved one, but you cannot force them to change. If other options haven’t been successful, you may need to let your loved one face the consequences of their substance abuse. Establish boundaries and let your loved one experience the negative consequences that coincide with addiction. These consequences may include:
- Physical illness
- Poor mental health
- Time spent in jail
- Losing custody of their children
- Financial and legal trouble
- Broken and strained relationships
As painful as this process can be, letting your loved one experience the adverse effects of addiction may motivate them to get the help they need.
Let Us Help You Help Your Addicted Loved One
Watching a loved one battle addiction can be a heartbreaking, frustrating, and exhausting experience. But we can help stage an intervention. Our compassionate team members can help you understand involuntary commitment laws or set up an intervention in Massachusetts. Our behavioral health experts can help you establish and maintain boundaries that can help encourage your loved one to seek treatment. You are not alone in this process. Let us help you help your loved one. Reach out today if you have a loved one in need of professional addiction treatment.