helping a loved one with addiction

Watching a loved one struggle with an addiction and their mental health can be incredibly difficult. You want the best for them, but convincing them to seek help can be a delicate and complex process. PCI’s clinical director, Miriam Hamideh, Ph.D. shares effective strategies to convince a loved one to get the help they need, while ensuring your approach is supportive and compassionate.

  • Educate Yourself First: Before attempting to persuade your loved one to seek help, it is important to educate yourself about mental health and addiction. This will enable you to better understand their struggles, treatment options, and potential outcomes. “It’s also important to understand your role in your loved one’s life, and to learn the healthy balance between being supportive but not becoming wholly responsible for their wellbeing,” says Dr. Miriam.
  • Choose the Right Time and Place: Timing is everything. Find a calm, private, and non-confrontational setting to talk. Avoid addressing the issue during moments of stress or conflict, as it may be counterproductive.
  • Express Empathy and Concern: Start the conversation by expressing your genuine concern and love for your loved one. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and emotions. For example, Dr. Miriam suggests phrases like, “I see that you’re suffering, and I care,” instead of “You need help.” It also helps to share your own struggles to express your understanding and empathy for their feelings and behavior.
  • Active Listening: Unfortunately, there is still societal stigma built into mental health struggles, addiction, and going to treatment. “Loved ones may be resistant to even admitting to their struggles for fear of being judged or appearing vulnerable,” says Dr. Miriam. Give your loved one the opportunity to express themselves without judgment. Active listening involves not only hearing their words but also understanding their emotions. Ask open-ended questions and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Share Your Observations: Gently share specific observations about their behavior or condition. Use concrete examples to illustrate your concerns. It can also help to reference others you know who have sought help and greatly benefited from it. This can help your loved one see the impact of their issue on themselves and those around them.
  • Highlight the Benefits of Seeking Help: Explain the potential benefits of getting help, such as improved mental health, a healthier lifestyle, or stronger relationships. Show them how seeking help can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. It is also essential to highlight how their behavior impacts and hurts those around them. In her experience interacting with patients and their families, Dr. Miriam observes, “If they understand that getting treatment will help the whole family, they can feel more accountable and responsible without feeling judged or antagonized.”
  • Respect Their Autonomy: It’s essential to respect your loved one’s autonomy. Remember that ultimately, the decision to seek help is theirs. Encourage them to make their own choices while providing support and information.
  • Offer Assistance: If they are open to the idea of getting help, offer to assist them in finding resources, making appointments, or attending sessions with them if they are comfortable with it. Your active involvement can make a significant difference.
  • Stay Patient and Persistent: Be prepared for resistance and setbacks. Change is often a gradual process, and it may take time for your loved one to come to a decision. Continue to express your support and concern without pressuring them.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: If your loved one’s situation is severe or deteriorating rapidly, it may be necessary to consult with a mental health or addiction professional for guidance on intervention strategies.

In summary, Dr. Miriam suggests the following in order to convince your loved one to seek treatment

  • Normalize the idea of getting help
  • Actively listen
  • Be open about your own struggles
  • Refer to someone that also sought treatment and found success
  • Show how it can positively impact the whole family
  • Speak with kindness and compassion
  • Provide them with resources that will allow them to take the next step

Remember that your role is one of support and encouragement, and ultimately, the choice to seek help must come from them. By following these strategies, you can be a source of strength and assistance on their path to recovery and well-being.

PCI Offers Support and Resources

It can be a challenge to find the right resources, or speak to professionals without having to reveal more than you are ready for. PCI offers that informal conversation through tours of our facility with our clinical director, and our free discussions and information sessions with our clinical and medical director. Family Education Night gives you an opportunity to ask questions free of judgment, allowing you to build the important knowledge that can help you better understand, support, and empower your loved one. Sign up today.