The last thing you want to see is your loved one hurting, especially if they’re struggling with drug addiction. It’s human instinct to want to help. But what do you do when an addict you love doesn’t want help? 

You may have searched for hours on the internet about what to do, but came up short on understanding why someone won’t stop using and how that applies to you. Like so many others, you want to aid your loved one with recovery while maintaining boundaries, but don’t know how. 

In this post, we’ll look at the true reasons addicts don’t want help, healthy ways to be supportive and what to do when you feel like all hope is lost. 

Drug Addiction Isn’t a Choice

Often times, family members and friends have little knowledge about drug dependence and recovery. In fact, most of society doesn’t understand that drug dependency is an illness. 

That’s why insurance companies will pay for treatment. Without help, drug dependence is life threatening.

For example, insurance companies won’t pay for people to have liposuction procedures. Do you know why? It’s an elective procedure. A patient’s life is likely not in danger if they don’t receive liposuction. 

However, insurance companies will pay for drug and/or alcohol treatment in order to save a life.

How to Know if an Addict Really Wants Help

Recently, we received a message from a young lady looking for help for her friend. Her friend told her he wanted to get sober and asked her to contact us. He agreed to come in the next day, but said she needed to take him to get heroin, so he wouldn’t go into withdrawal before coming to the clinic.

The next day, this young man decided he was not ready to start treatment. So why did he change his mind? 

There could be many reasons, but the most common is fear of commitment to treatment. 

As renowned family therapist Virginia Satir said, “The certainty of misery is more comfortable than the uncertainty of change.” 

It’s easier to stay in the cycle of addiction where you know how everything functions and what you can get away with. However, the moment someone decides to move forward with recovery, it then creates an expectation that they’ll do better and are ready to make changes with their lives. Even though it’s a positive step forward, it can feel like an enormous amount of pressure. 

While that may be hard to understand, think of someone constantly struggling with weight loss. Perhaps, their doctors and family members are encouraging them to lose weight because of health concerns. However, the real problem holding them back is the fear of failure. 

If they lose weight, there comes the expectation that they’ll keep it off. The pressure and anxiety that comes from that can be so overwhelming they don’t even try anymore.

The same is true for drug addiction. There’s already a tremendous amount of shame that’s associated with it, but the shame of relapse may be even more intense.

Also common is an addict who will say what you want to hear, so you’ll help them or give them what they want. It could also be they just want to leave them alone and get off of their back.

If the individual really wants to help, they’ll be willing to call the treatment center themselves. They will be willing to take action to get help. It is a red flag when they want you to do all of the work. 

3 Practical Ways to Help an Addict Who Is Resistant to Recovery

Sometimes the help we offer can cause more harm than good. Your sincere concern may enable a loved one’s addiction, so it’s important to become educated on addiction. 

However, there are some basic things you can do so your addicted loved one is more willing to receive help.

  1. Stop rewarding them for unhealthy behavior. They’re not helpless. The fewer consequences they receive, the less likely they are to change.
  2. Allow them to experience their own consequences. Stop calling into work for them when they are going to miss. Stop bailing them out of jail. Stop making excuses for their behavior.
  3. Be assertive and address the issue. People are often afraid that confronting the person may make them go use. You do not have that much power. If they want to use, they will find any excuse.

Remember that you aren’t responsible for someone else’s sobriety. You can’t control how someone responds to your help, but you can control how you contribute to a loved one’s recovery.

The Myth About Rock Bottom

It’s true that things often have to get worse before they get better. The common terminology for this in the recovery world is “hitting rock bottom.”. This is when the addicted individual becomes willing to commit to recovery.

The common misunderstanding about hitting rock bottom is that rock bottom is the same for everyone. Some people hit rock bottom when they lose relationships, lose a job, overdose and end up in the hospital, or go to jail.

There are also many people that have experienced all of these situations and continue to use. They have not hit their rock bottom, whatever that may be. You can stop digging the hole you’re in at any time, but you have to be willing to stop.

An individual won’t decide to quit using until they consider the consequences to outweigh the rewards of using. Only the addicted individual — not their friends or family — will know when they hit rock bottom.

What to Do When an Addict Still Won’t Get Help

At MedPro Treatment Centers, we don’t believe in giving up on someone for having an illness and not getting help. Fear and denial often prevent people from getting the help they need. We still love them even when they’re sick.

Set healthy boundaries with your addicted loved one. Sometimes you may even have to love them from a distance. Allow them to experience the consequences and pain of their behaviors. Pain can be a great motivator for making changes.

Please remember, you are not responsible for your loved one’s decisions or their consequences. 

In the meantime, we would encourage you to get help for yourself. Addiction affects the entire family over time. Support groups or counseling would be helpful for you. You can be healthy and happy despite what your loved one is doing.