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When Enough Is Enough: How to Help a Loved One Who Needs Addiction Treatment

If your family member or close friend is one of the 21 million people in the U.S. dealing with mental illness or substance abuse, then you know how heart-wrenching an experience it can be. Since only one in 10 substance abusers opt for treatment, and only 32% of people experiencing common mental health problems seek professional help, it can feel hopeless and make your efforts seem in vain. But hope can be found and recovery is possible.

If you believe your loved one needs treatment or therapy, Improving Lives Counseling Services outlines some steps you can take to help them through the process.

Don’t wait to act

Many people allow a loved one to engage in substance abuse for a substantial amount of time or to leave their mental health issues untreated before deciding to act. Either they are hoping for things to get better on their own, or they have bought into manipulative behavior and empty promises. If it has gotten to a place where you are genuinely worried, it’s probably for good reason. advises starting the conversation now and be prepared to respond with specific examples of their behavior that worry you.

Start with compassion

It’s important to come into the situation with compassion. A tough-love approach may work in some cases, but trying to empathize with your loved one first can help you better understand their struggle and build trust. If they see that you’re genuinely willing to go through their pain with them, they are more likely to be forthcoming about their experiences. Of course, tough love like a family intervention may still be necessary in desperate times when no other options remain.

Support the person―not the illness

You should also do whatever it takes to support your loved one in their struggle. You can’t force them to change or do the work for them, but you can still be active in their recovery. It’s necessary to educate yourself on addiction or whatever mental health issues they are dealing with in order to open a dialogue with them.

Support them without enabling their destructive actions. Enabling behavior is anything that will keep the problem going. This means not loaning them money you know will be used for drugs or joining them for a night of drinking if they have substance abuse problems. Or allowing them to think they can handle whatever mental illness they are living with on their own or through self-destructive means. Making your concerns clear and establishing boundaries will ultimately promote respect in the relationship and support your loved one’s need for treatment.

Help them connect with resources and programs

Once they’re open to taking active steps toward change, be sure to help connect your loved one with the resources and programs you have learned about through your research. The needs of each patient vary. Depending on your loved one’s personality and the severity of their problem, joining a support group and outpatient rehabilitation program could prove to be just what they need to begin to heal. In some cases, affordable addiction treatment at an inpatient program is the best approach.

While finding a qualified counselor to deal with your loved one’s specific needs can be daunting, there are resources to help you narrow the search. The cost of treatment can be expensive, but since 2014, The Affordable Care Act has made that coverage mandatory on the open market. Check with their insurer to see exactly what is covered under their plan.

See them through recovery

As important as it is to get your loved one started on the road to recovery, remaining supportive throughout the process is just as vital. Most people who have come face-to-face with their addiction and have become abstinent experience at least one relapse during their first year of sobriety.

Those who complete an inpatient program are less likely to relapse but still remain at a high risk. The American Psychological Association found that 15-20 counseling sessions are needed for 50% of patients to recover, while those with concurrent issues or certain personality difficulties can require 12 to 18 months to show significant progress.

Recovering from an addiction or overcoming mental illness is one of the hardest things anyone can do. But with your help, your loved one can come out on the other side. Once you decide to confront the issue, remember to come from a place of compassion, be supportive (not enabling), connect them with the right resources and programs, and stay with them throughout the entire process.