Who is the best person to talk to an addict about going to rehab? Well, now, that’s an interesting question, because when an addict is deep into their addiction, they really aren’t listening to anyone who isn’t offering them a way to further their drug or alcohol experience. That being said, clearly we would hope that a parent, a sibling, or a best friend would be able to make them see the harm they are doing to themselves, but that’s rarely the way it works out. Trying to talk to an addict about their addiction is like playing catch with a hand grenade – more often than not, it will blow up in your face.
So, who can get through to the addict? Often, it’s a person the addict feels close to, but doesn’t have an emotional relationship with. Someone who has had conversations with them, understanding their plight, but showing no judgment. Or it could be a counselor at a rehab, or maybe an intervention specialist. Maybe it’s a person they know who is in recovery themselves. There’s no way to know who is the right person, because everyone is unique. Maybe a better way to approach this is from a different angle.
Let’s look at the reasons a person may be addicted to a mind-altering substance. It could be an exploration of a drug for the sake of fun, and then it became a pleasure turned bad; it could be a pain medication they couldn’t stop taking; it could be an emotional pain they are trying to hide from others and themselves. The truth is, once addicted, the reason doesn’t matter, because they are still addicted. The most difficult person to talk to, of those mentioned, is probably the last one. They are already in pain, and your interference is offensive to them. So how do you get around their pain?
To begin with, remember at all times this about them, not you. Your objective is to get them to a rehab, and unless they buy in, even if they go, it’s not going to have the desired outcome. No matter how your life is affected by their actions, they will choose to use because of how it affects them, not you. It doesn’t mean they won’t feel badly about the pain they put you in, but you don’t matter as much as the drug. Nobody does. So, when talking to them, remember, it’s not about how their addiction is affecting your life. It’s about how their addiction is affecting their life.
Now, if you’re dealing with someone who is young, and you’re their parent, they most likely care about you deep down, but teenagers that aren’t addicted are trying to gain their independence, and as part of the pack, they “hate” their parents. Drugs and alcohol won’t improve that problem. No, dealing with them on the level of their own life is a better way to go.
Do your absolute best to not be judgmental. Don’t let the shock of what they say throw you off course. Don’t let the events of their life derail your purpose for the conversation. That’s exactly what the addict hopes will happen. Don’t go there. Stay focused on how they are harming themselves and why. Ask more questions than propose answers. The more they talk, the more comfortable they will be, and they will be more willing to go, especially if your questions lead them to propose it. Structure your questions around what is best for them.
All this kind of skirts around the topic which is, “Who is the best person to have the conversation?” Sometimes it might be an addiction specialist, or an addict in good recovery. Sometimes it might be a sibling or a best friend. Rarely is it the parent. At best, it’s a crap shoot, and you can only hope for a good outcome. The reality is, of course, if they are ready to find recovery, it won’t matter who is talking to them. The conversation will be more about their fears than resisting. Listen well, and pray a lot. Their recovery is their business, all you can do is help to open their eyes and guide them.