In most instances, it is concerned family members and friends who notice that a loved one needs help for addiction. It is common for those affected by drug and alcohol addiction to be in denial about their problems and to be unable to see what to others is blindingly obvious. However, in some instances, it is the person with the addiction who realises he or she needs help and must convince his or her family members of this fact.
Denial is a common characteristic of addiction; many people who abuse alcohol, for instance, are unable to see that their drinking has become problematic. They may have friends who drink more than they do, which makes them believe that their drinking is under control. Others do not realise that they are dependent on alcohol because they have never tried to quit.
It is less common for family members to be affected by denial but it does happen. In some instances, family members are either too embarrassed or too ashamed to give credence to the fact that their loved one could be classed as an addict.
People with no personal experience of addiction tend to have an image in their heads of what addicts look and behave like. They may picture an alcoholic as someone who staggers around, slurring his or her words and swigging from a bottle of cheap spirits. Their idea of a drug addict may be someone who skulks about in dark alleyways or spends his or her days in a dirty squat injecting illegal drugs such as heroin.
They do not understand how someone with a good job, a nice home, lots of friends and a loving family could be considered an addict. But the truth is that many addicts are just like that and, to the outside world, they appear perfectly normal. Nevertheless, they are struggling with an addiction that is devastating their lives.
Convincing Loved Ones
If you are having trouble convincing your loved ones that you need help, there are some things you can do. One of the most effective ways of getting loved ones to understand your problem is to stage an intervention. It would be wise to gather a group of people that your loved ones will respect. For example, you could ask other family members, friends, the family doctor, a priest/vicar or a trained counsellor or therapist.
The place where you hold the intervention is also something you need to consider. It is important that your loved ones feel comfortable; this could be their home or your home, or it could be a neutral site. If your GP is to attend, you could ask him or her if it would be okay to stage the intervention there, when surgery is closed.
During the intervention, you will need to provide information on the illness that is addiction and give examples of your behaviour that made you think you had a problem. Make sure that everyone who will be there knows what they are going to say and whatever you do, stay calm. Your loved ones could be stubborn and may be refusing to accept that you have a problem in the beginning, but if you calmly explain that addiction is an illness that can affect anyone, they may be more inclined to come round to the idea and start accepting that you do need help and support.
Interventions are very effective but if you are worried that it might get out of hand, you could always ask a professional facilitator to guide the meeting to keep things on track. Call us here at Rehab Helper for advice and information on running an intervention or for help with accessing a professional interventionist.