One of the most devastating circumstances a person can go through is to be overcome by a drug or alcohol addiction, a situation that can be equally crushing for the individual’s family. If you’re watching a family member, dear friend or close coworker lose sight of life to an addiction, you may be struggling with a sense of hopelessness and despair. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to aid your loved one in finding help and getting treatment.
For an addicted individual, one of the most priceless resources he or she has during an addiction, through the treatment process and later into recovery, is a supportive network of caring individuals.
What Treatment Options Exist?
As you’re contemplating the task of trying to get your loved one into treatment, it is important that you understand the various options. Treatment is dependent on several factors, foremost being the severity of drug abuse. Individuals who have low to moderate risk may find ample care in an outpatient program. These programs also benefit individuals in the respect that they are cheaper and more flexible, allowing a person to remain active within other important areas of their life, including family, educational or employment-related responsibilities. However, these programs do have one major downfall—as a person remains within their regular, daily life, they may have continued access or temptation from the situations that trigger thoughts of using or make a substance available. For this reason, for many, inpatient drug rehab is the more preferred option.
When a person enrolls in an inpatient drug rehab center, they are entering what is also considered a residential facility, due to the fact that the person will actually reside on site for the duration of the treatment. This is a vast benefit, as it allows a person to completely immerse themselves in treatment, effectively reducing contact with negative influences. In addition, a person will have 24-hour access to a highly-trained and supportive staff and a wider variety of treatment programs.
Do Your Research
Not all treatment programs are the same. Just as your loved one varies from someone else with an addiction, so should their treatment be individualized to address their specific emotional, physical and mental health needs. Treatment can be expensive, so we also suggest that you contemplate your financial standing or that of your loved one’s against the treatment cost. Also consider access to any scholarships, grants or financing options. Perhaps there are other family members in your loved one’s life who would be willing to pitch in to make these treatment needs a reality.
It can be helpful to find local resources—finding a support group within your community, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, may provide your loved one with a venue to confront their addiction within. These groups will offer your loved one access to individuals who have a perspective that is likely widely different than yours—individuals who understand what it is like to suffer from an addiction and live a life in recovery. This can be a very positive influence that may become a catalyst towards treatment and help encourage both healing and acceptance.
Not every drug impacts a person in the same way. Spend time reading up on your loved one’s drug of abuse so that you can better understand and anticipate the ways it may affect them.
When you’re speaking to your loved one, it can be helpful if you have a shared dialogue—don’t let the conversation become one-sided and especially don’t lecture them. It is important that you share your concerns with them—providing them with an opportunity to see and understand the impact their addiction has on those around them may be a much needed wake up call, however, don’t berate them to the point they become immersed in guilt and shut down. Strive to be compassionate and supportive, while allowing them time to talk and express their own worries and hopes. Giving your loved one an opportunity to talk will also provide you with more information that you can take into account while forming a personalized treatment plan.
Keep Your Loved One’s Best Interests In Mind
It can be easy to let your emotions override your sensibilities while you talk to your loved one. This is understandable, as their addiction has likely shaped your life in many deep and lasting ways, however, becoming overly emotional or blameful can be highly counterproductive. Try to consider your loved one’s needs and unique history. Do they have any mental health concerns or physical concerns? These factors will influence the course of treatment.
If a person has any co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety, depression or ADHD, he or she will need treatment for these concerns adjacent to those for substance abuse to ensure the best outcome. Has your loved one experienced trauma within their life that may affect their state of mind and addiction? Choosing a program that is adept at handling these sensitive concerns is very important.
Is There A Way To Get An Adult Into Treatment Against Their Will?
An addiction changes the way a person sees themselves and the world around them. The very way they think, perceive, rationalize and judge can be drastically altered by changes to their neurochemistry due to a drug’s effects. Because of this, an addicted individual may many times be in denial and fail to see the detriment and danger of their ways. Continuing to seek and use their substance of abuse may overrule the presence or context of damage within their life.
When a situation like this arises, you may wonder if there is a way to get a person into treatment against their will. If the person is a minor, the circumstance is different, however for an individual aged 18 years and older, the situation is far more complex. The truth is, the ability to enroll a person in a program without their informed consent (a civil commitment) is one that varies state to state. A Medscape article speaks of research presented at the 2011 American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting on this very matter. Medscape quotes the study’s lead author, Debra A. Pinals, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, as stating “We found that most states, about 38 jurisdictions, permit some form of involuntary substance abuse treatment separate from any kind of criminal issues under their civil statutes.”
She continued to elaborate that some states have no statutes discerning what can be done in this situation, whereas others vary widely on specific criteria for a civil commitment. Of these, most notable perhaps is a clear and present danger to self (such as that which arises within a severe and debilitating addiction).
In order to better understand if a civil commitment is an option for you, you must consider your state’s specific criteria on this matter. In addition, involuntary treatment may occur two other ways: through a police pickup or emergency hospitalization, which Pinals notes are permitted in every state excluding Alabama, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Keep in mind, should you report your loved one’s illegal drug abuse, as a means to get them into treatment via a police pickup, there is a high risk of legal repercussions and possible jail time.
Is Coerced Treatment Effective?
Contrary to what you may think, research shows that individuals who enter into treatment against their will, or not wholeheartedly behind the notion, still seek benefit, obtaining positive results that are comparable to those who choose treatment on their own.
One publication from the Harm Reduction Journal, “Coerced addiction treatment: Client perspectives and the implications of their neglect,” writes that there are variable results on individuals who are coerced through social controls into treatment, however, they write that “studies have largely found that that legal pressures promote longer retention, and that clients who enter treatment under legal pressures show comparable or better short-term treatment responses (e.g., reductions in substance use, criminal activity) to others in treatment.”
Consider An Intervention
Before you consider exerting such force as a civil commitment, you should examine the possibility of a professionally-led intervention. While communicating your worries in any way that your loved one may incite some measure of change, organizing your concerns into a more concrete form may prove more effective. Though some may choose to lead an intervention on their own, we highly recommend the aid of a professional interventionist to ensure the highest measure of success. These individuals are highly trained and certified, able to plan and execute the intervention to a rate of high success.
During the course of an intervention, emotions may flare from both the individual who is in need of treatment and their loved ones. An interventionist is adept at handling these concerns, while also diffusing tension before it escalates to a point of violence or aggression. Beyond this, they will also take care of preparations associated with transporting your loved one to treatment, an essential component, should your loved one accept what is presented to them and begin desiring help.
The Harm Reduction Journal study spoke of the benefit this may have on treatment outcomes, noting that “informal pressures, ranging from encouragements to organized interventions to prompt treatment entry, are associated with higher rates of treatment completion relative to self-referred clients, as well as a greater likelihood of regular attendance at 12-step meetings and methadone treatment. Further study has linked social network pressures to higher rates of abstinence relative to problem drinkers who are not confronted by their friends and family.”
Be Willing To Step Back Or Take Part In The Treatment Process
Every family and friendship has a different dynamic. Oftentimes, unbeknownst to the family members, they may actually be contributing to their loved one’s addiction, most commonly by patterns of enabling behavior. If this is the case, you must first seek to examine yourself and the way you interact with your loved one, as a means to change any negative influences you may have on their life. Secondly, some individuals may for these reasons desire to have no influences with friends or family during their time in treatment. Or, for others, they may simply want to cut off ties, not because of specific reasons, but as a way to focus entirely on themselves to heal.
On the other hand, many individuals want continued support while they are in treatment. As family members, this can provide you with a powerful opportunity to learn about the various ways you can better support your loved one in recovery, while creating a more adaptable and engaging family dynamic that can be foundational to their recovery going forward. A family support program can aid you in doing these things and can become an important component of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan.
Let Us Guide You In Creating A Supportive And Sound Plan
We understand that you may, more than anything, desire to see your loved on the path to a drug-free life, however, we do understand that you may be uncertain about the best way to approach your loved one regarding their addiction or treatment needs. Turning Point has compassionate and resource-driven treatment specialists standing by to aid you in theses needs. Contact us today.
Medscape — Wide Variation in Commitment Laws for Substance Abuse
U.S. National Library of Medicine — Coerced addiction treatment: Client perspectives and the implications of their neglect.