Motivating Your Loved One into Treatment



Motivating your loved one into treatment

For those of you reading this that have someone they care about in active addiction you will know only too well about the damage they are doing to themselves and those around them. For you, it seems crazy that they can’t see the damage they are doing and why they can’t just stop their behaviour.

Moreover, you know that with the right help, they could be free from addiction and that life for them and those around them will be bearable once again. As a parent, spouse, sibling, work colleague or friend I am sure you deeply saddened to see the wreckage they are causing – and probably also feeling angry and frustrated. But, helping a loved one with their addiction is not always simple.

When someone you care about is addicted, it’s natural for you to worry. In that worry, there is a natural tendency to plead. However, I am sure that many of you will find that your pleas end up backfiring, creating arguments, your loved one storming off and their usage continuing.

Unfortunately, while you may see your pleas as helpful the fact of the matter is that the people you care about are trapped in their cycle of addiction and have lost the ability to care about themselves (past getting the next drink or drug) but also can’t bring themselves to care enough about the consequences of their actions to seek help – because their thoughts are flooded with their drug of choice.

Unfortunately, addiction isn’t logical.

So what can you do?

Remain Empathic

Empathy offers a caring, understanding and empowering attitude toward your loved one’s struggles. They promote their inherent human right to autonomy and personal responsibility. However, remaining empathic is probably the last thing you want to do!

As irritated, dog-tired and frustrated as you are probably feeling it’s important to remember: People always want to make decisions for themselves.

If your loved one feels as though they’re being forced into something, they’re more likely to be resistant and if they do follow through it has no meaning for them deep down and as such any long-lasting change is unlikely to happen. However, if they feel as though something is their own decision, they’ll be much more likely to do it. Remember, the goal of your conversations is to help your loved one come to the decision of accepting they have a problem with drugs or alcohol and that they need to do something about it.

In this way the best approach is to:

  • Keeping conversations generalised and open-ended – rather than accusatory and attributing blame or putting them on a guilt trip
  • Walk away from a conversation around their drug or alcohol use that is getting heated rather than arguing
  • Avoid criticism
  • Demonstrate concern
  • Not to give solutions when you haven’t been asked
 Set Some Boundaries

Being empathic does not mean you have to roll over and accept their behaviour, nor does it mean you have to enable their addiction. Setting boundaries is key to creating strong relationships in all walks of life. Boundaries establish guidelines for suitable behaviours, responsibilities, and actions. Addiction can distort family roles: it turns family members into caretakers, scapegoats, doormats, enablers and pleasers, setting boundaries can negate these things.

When your boundaries are weak – or don’t exist at all – you are compromising your own needs as well as enabling your loved one to “get away with things”. When you set boundaries with an addicted loved one, you increase the chances that he or she will seek help. Setting boundaries involves taking care of yourself, understanding your wants and needs, and determining what you don’t like, want or need. It also involves clear communication with your loved one with real consequences that you will need to follow through on.

Some of the boundaries you might want to set are:

  • No drug use at home and/or drunkenness around me and the children, if there are any: Let your loved one know what substances and behaviour are acceptable and unacceptable in the home and when they are out with you. Let your loved one understand the consequences if he or she violates those boundaries. Will you force them to find somewhere else to stay if they break this boundary or will you leave yourself? In other words, there is a need to gain control over what goes on in your home, within your personal space, and the space around your children if you have any.


  • No financial bailouts: By setting the boundary to no longer financially support your loved one, you are focusing on your own well-being and mental health. Remember, setting boundaries won’t cure their addiction – but they will protect you. Just because your loved one has an addiction it does not mean you are not entitled to protect your mental health, your physical well-being, and your finances. This may mean tighter controls on your behalf on any joint accounts and even the possibility of setting up your own separate account where your money can go into plus any amount you might need to transfer into it from the joint account each month to ensure you meet key bills.


  • No lies, excuses or cover-ups: Setting a clear boundary that you will not lie, excuse or cover up the consequences of their addiction sends a very clear message about their personal responsibility. If they are hung over and aren’t going to work then they will have to phone in themselves, if they miss a family occasion or other form of gathering due to their addiction then they will have to provide their own reasons for not attending – moreover if you are then also asked you will not lie on their behalf. Addiction thrives on chaos and lies. Setting boundaries that will help to remove you from such chaos will force your loved one to take ownership in his or her actions and behaviours.


There are many more boundaries that can be set, so talking to an addiction expert would be a good way to explore these. Setting boundaries is important for both you and your drug or alcohol addicted loved one. With boundaries, you are less likely to become entangled in the chaos of their addiction and it provides a framework for you to think more clearly and rationally, reclaim your self-respect, set healthy examples for your family and friends, and give your addicted loved one some consequences and reasons to seek help.

Research Treatment Options

When your loved one eventually has the light bulb moment and decides they need help the window of opportunity can be very short. Recovery is not the same for every person. Knowing the options and finding what’s best for you and your loved one is an important factor when deciding on treatment. Deciding on a treatment provider that is affordable, reputable and with experienced staff and a diverse range of treatment options is extremely important. Talk to multiple experts and find out what your options are for treatment. Learn about the differences in various addiction residential and day programme services and find out what kind of aftercare options are offered. Choosing the right treatment programme can mean the difference between success and relapse for your loved one.

Having a range of information to hand that you can give to your loved one when they open to get help will make a big difference. However, it is important that you provide them with a menu of options for them to look at and decide themselves out of these, or anything else they may find. Ultimately it must be their decision as to where they go with the message that you will support them with whatever treatment option they choose.

 Get Professional Advice

The world of addiction treatment can seem vast. The team at Strong Hope have years of experience in addiction treatment in a variety of sectors and will be more than willing to discuss your personal circumstances and see if the service we provide meets your needs, or if not at least we can give you some other options. So, whether you are wondering how to get someone into treatment, or how to help a loved one with an addiction, you can feel confident that there are options and that you are doing the right thing.

Getting help for a loved one can potentially be a life-saving event, making sure that you are prepared and have all the bases covered will make the difficult journey to recovery just a little bit easier.


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