It is most heartbreaking to watch a loved one succumbing to alcohol and drug addiction. For the family and close friends, it is an experience full of hurt, anger, shame, guilt and fear.
And when they try and help the addict, it becomes frustrating since he tries his best to avoid treatment. The alcoholic or addict will try everything in his power - and they can be really clever in giving reasons – to convince his well-wishers why he doesn’t need to go in for treatment.
Though family and friends may be tempted to believe the words of their loved ones (like once again believing in promises despite many broken ones), remember that the main goal of confronting people about substance abuse issues is getting them into a treatment program.
The goal should be to somehow get the addicted person into a rehab, even if he is in denial about his problem. In such a scenario, rehabs such as Hope Trust in India have effective protocols to break the addict’s denial (with family interventions) and ultimately motivate him toward meaningful recovery.
So what are the 3 most common excuses an addict uses to avoid treatment? In our experience, they are:
1. ‘I can stop whenever I want to.’
Despite repeated trials and promises, the addict is helpless in stopping his drug or alcohol use. He may try all sorts of controlling strategies, but all of them are likely to fail. However, he still feels, and claims, he can stop whenever he wants to.
This excuse falls under the category of denial.
2. ‘I know someone who went to treatment and relapsed, so why should I go?’
Unfortunately, the sad truth about drug and alcohol addiction is that many who attend treatment programs relapse at one point in their lives. However, what this excuse gets wrong is that relapse is not a vote against addiction treatment programs, but a testament to how difficult it is to recover from addiction.
The fact is that addiction is a highly relapse prone ‘disease’. But not seeking treatment is like saying “I know many who have taken treatment for heart disease, but still have suffered a heart attack”.
Many experts believe that relapse is a natural part of the recovery process, and that people who recommit themselves to their sobriety after a relapse event are even more successful at living healthy lives than ever before. (Hope Trust’s statistics validate this). After all, just because something like addiction treatment is difficult does not mean that it is not worth doing.
There are many who have undergone addiction treatment successfully and are leading happy, successful lives because of it. We need to look at the positive potential, not the negative possibilities. But then, an addict does develop a negative outlook and uses it to avoid treatment.
3. ‘All my friends do drugs and drink alcohol. What am I going to do after addiction treatment?’
This is a common and a genuine fear. An addict has come to believe that substance abuse and ‘fun’ are inter-related. He cannot imagine a life without alcohol or drugs. And his current social circle comprises only persons who similarly use alcohol and drugs and life without these ‘friends’ is unthinkable.
This is one of the most difficult excuses to address, because people may have genuine feelings of companionship with those who they have drank or done drugs with. These friends know the struggles of addiction in intimate detail, and people may be reluctant to give them up so easily.
Hope Trust therapists emphasize that recovery means discovering new games to play, new playgrounds and new game mates.
While in rehab, the addict begins to discover the sheer pleasure of staying clean – getting natural sleep with aid of drugs, tasting food as it should, laughing, sharing…and as they progress in recovery and other things in life begin to get settle down and get better (relationships, career, finances, respect in community, joy of service, etc) they begin to realize the true worth of sobriety and get further motivated.
Rajeshwari Luther, Hope Trust India
Rajeshwari Luther is Director of Hope Trust. She oversees all operations including family therapy.