If you have a loved one with an alcohol or drug addiction, you probably know that it hurts to watch someone you care about succumb to harmful habits. This is especially true when they don’t want to acknowledge the problem, as it can leave you wondering how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help. Fortunately, there are ways you can encourage them to get treatment.
It’s more common than you may think for someone to forego addiction treatment. In fact, less than 20 percent of individuals who meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD) seek help for their symptoms. This means that of the 14.5 million adults currently living with an AUD in the United States, over 11 million of them are not receiving professional support.
In other words, over 11 million people are living with habits that will slowly erode their physical and mental health as well as the relationships they have with other people. If you are one of those people and you want to help your loved one overcome addiction, there are a few angles you can take to work toward that goal.
Identifying Alcohol Addiction
Some individuals worry that they might be overreacting when their loved one doesn’t share their concerns. However, there are several blatant red flags to look for to help you determine whether or not they really have a drinking problem.
So, before discussing more about how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help, consider the following signs of addiction:
- Spending most time drinking, buying, or recovering from alcohol
- Having to drink larger amounts to achieve the same level of intoxication
- Participating in dangerous activities after drinking (such as driving, swimming, or unsafe sex)
- Losing interest in previous hobbies or activities
- Continuing to drink despite the problems it causes
- Drinking more or for longer than intended
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms as alcohol’s effects wear off
- Struggling to complete tasks or fulfill responsibilities
If your loved one exhibits at least two of the above symptoms, they most likely meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. As such, you have a basis for wanting to help them stop drinking, even if they don’t seem interested in receiving that support.
How to Help an Alcoholic Who Doesn’t Want Help
If you believe your loved one has a substance abuse problem, but they don’t agree, what do you do next? It’s commonly thought that acknowledging a problem is the first step to overcoming it, so when someone can’t see the harm their drinking habits cause, it becomes difficult to convince them to seek help.
Unfortunately, acknowledging someone else’s drinking problem on their behalf will rarely be enough to motivate them to get treatment. However, you can take steps to try and show them that they need professional support by using evidence and empathy. Below are a few tips to keep in mind as you determine how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help.
Educate Yourself on Alcohol Use Disorder
Addiction can be a challenging concept to grasp for those who do not experience it firsthand. For this reason, it’s important to research alcohol use disorder and develop a deeper understanding of its potential causes, symptoms, and long-term effects.
In some cases, learning more about substance abuse may also involve identifying your role in your loved one’s addiction. For instance, some people unknowingly exhibit enabling behaviors, such as providing the addicted individual with money or taking on some of their responsibilities.
At the time, it may feel like doing them a favor, but these behaviors can contribute to addiction and make it more difficult for someone to acknowledge their need for treatment. In turn, people in your position are left wondering how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help.
Offer Empathy and Support
You may grow frustrated with your loved one if they refuse treatment for a long period of time. However, it’s important to remain empathetic and open to learning more about their situation. For example, consider that as many as half of individuals with an alcohol use disorder also live with an additional mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.
With that being the case, your loved one may be facing other trials in their life and using alcohol as a means to disguise those issues. Uncovering those first may be the best starting point for how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help.
In any case, it is often best to acknowledge their difficulties with compassion and clear support. Using empathy can keep conversations calm and civil, making it easier for both of you to express your feelings in a healthy manner.
Set Healthy Boundaries
One of the best actions you can take for yourself as well as your loved one involves setting healthy boundaries. As you try new methods to learn how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help, they will likely continue to misuse alcohol in the meantime. You may be able to identify certain behaviors that you no longer wish to tolerate.
For example, when you set healthy boundaries, you may make statements like:
- Don’t drink in the house or in front of me.
- Don’t invite your drinking friends over to the house.
- I will not fund your drinking habits any longer.
- I will not lie for you if someone asks about you.
- If you are arrested, I will not bail you out.
Furthermore, as you work on boundaries, remain cautious of ultimatums. There is a difference between setting healthy boundaries and using threatening language to coerce someone into action. Generally, ultimatums are not effective when used on people with addictions. Consider framing your concerns in a different manner instead.
Stage an Intervention
Sometimes, scattered conversations and firm boundaries aren’t enough to motivate someone to seek professional treatment. Even so, with their own mental and physical well-being at stake, you shouldn’t give up on figuring out how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help.
If the above steps haven’t worked, it may be time to make an organized effort with others who are close to the addicted person. If you aren’t sure who to contact, an intervention specialist can help you decide who to involve in the meeting.
Most successful interventions involve the participants preparing statements ahead of time. These statements usually consist of their concerns, examples of how someone’s drinking habits have affected them, and their hopes for the addicted individual to seek help. It is not a place to express severe anger or frustration, but simply an honest organization of one’s feelings.
What Not to Do to Help an Alcoholic Who Doesn’t Want Help
There are many approaches you can take regarding how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help. However, there are also angles you should try to avoid when speaking with an addicted person. Overly aggressive confrontations may only serve to push them farther away and deeper into their substance abuse.
Specifically, when trying to encourage someone to seek addiction treatment, don’t:
- Use guilt or judgment. When an addict refuses treatment, avoid intensely arguing with them or resorting to shame. It may harm your relationship further, worsen the issue, and make it harder to continue the conversation later.
- Make accusations. Avoid using “you” statements, as they may make the addicted person feel targeted or isolated. Instead, stick with “I” statements and focus on how their habits negatively impact those around them.
- Force them into treatment. Individuals who do not actively want to get better are unlikely to benefit from treatment. They need to make their own choice to recover in order to get the most out of it.
- Hide the problem. Don’t go out of your way to cover up someone’s substance abuse. If you portray the image of a perfect household to other people, the addicted individual may take that as a sign that they don’t need to make changes.
- Blame yourself. Even if you suspect you have enabled certain behaviors in the past, accountability is not the same as blame. Furthermore, it is rarely helpful to direct the focus toward yourself.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Naples, Florida
Hopefully, you now understand more about how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help. If the above tips help you successfully motivate your loved one to seek addiction treatment, consider directing them toward The Willough at Naples.
We are an addiction treatment center that provides a full continuum of care for individuals looking to stop drinking alcohol. Unlike some other treatment facilities, we step away from the harsh clinical setting and promote recovery through a gentle, uplifting atmosphere. Our recovery approach has benefited addicted individuals and their family members for over 30 years.
Learn More About How to Help an Alcoholic Who Doesn’t Want Help
Navigating life with an addicted person who doesn’t want help presents many challenges. As you persevere through them, remember to look out for yourself as well. In addition to addiction treatment, The Willough at Naples offers psychiatric services for adults battling conditions like depression. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the obstacles in your life, we can help you, too.
For more information about how to help an alcoholic who doesn’t want help, feel free to contact us today. You can reach a representative by calling 800-722-0100 or submitting a confidential contact form online. Our team can offer additional advice on how to stage an intervention and encourage your loved one to seek treatment.