If you suspect a person you care about has an addiction, getting that loved one help could be critical. Before you make a choice to talk to them about their problem, first do some research and seek advice from a trained professional. Being informed can help prepare you to do your part in your loved one’s recovery.
What Do You Know About the Person You Love?
It’s important to understand that you may or may not be the closest person to your loved one, or the person that best understands their situation. If you’re not that person but can connect with the one who is, you can work together to help address the issue with the assistance of a treatment specialist. Ultimately, it will be up to your loved one if he or she is ready to stop abusing drugs or alcohol.
Questions That Need Answers:
Is it appropriate for me to help this person?
You need to make sure you won’t be overstepping your boundaries or those of the person you’re trying to help by offending them or making them angry. This is most true when the person is more of an acquaintance than a friend. Don’t assume anyone wants or is ready for treatment—they must reach that point themselves. To avoid overstepping boundaries, consider talking to someone closer to the person with the substance abuse problem. Express your concerns, and see if there is anything you can do to help indirectly.
Is there anything I can do to help someone who isn't quite ready?
You don’t need permission to begin to research treatment programs for your loved one. The goal is to be ready to support them whenever they are ready for help. Make sure you already have ideas in mind to suggest or programs to consider. You should have enough information to be able to answer simple questions. Just don’t give your loved one’s information to any treatment centers or take steps toward enrollment until you have their permission.
Is a mental health issue present
Addictions and mental health issues often develop together. This is called a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. Consider these statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health: of the 20.2 million adults with substance abuse problems in 2014, 7.9 million also had a mental illness.
The person may have a formal diagnosis from a doctor, or you may see symptoms of anxiety, depression, or personality disorders. It’s important for your loved one’s addiction and mental illness to be treated together and not independently, so if you’re researching treatment facilities, ask if they can treat dual diagnoses.
How many times has your loved one tried treatment?
Addictions are chronic conditions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that relapse is part of the disease profile. It’s not uncommon for people to move into and out of treatment often before they get better, but the more times someone has tried it, the more significant the addiction might be.
Will insurance help with payments?
Most health insurance policies will pay for at least part of addiction treatment. For example, health insurance packages through the federal marketplace are required to cover treatment for a substance use disorder. If your loved one has coverage, you may need to call the company to learn about referrals, approved providers, and copayments. That way, you’ll understand their financial obligations—or yours.
What would strengthen recovery?
Addiction treatment programs vary widely, so it’s important to consider what makes a program a good match for your loved one. For example, if your loved one is one of the 53% of Americans who consider religion “very important,” you may want to find a facility that incorporates that. For someone else, alternative therapies like yoga or art could be important
As you ask and answer these questions, keep a detailed image in mind of the person you love. This will help you remember the purpose of the work you’re doing, and you’ll gain ideas for how to help them.
Put Your Knowledge to Good Use
Now that you understand how your loved one is touched by addiction, turn your attention to what the right treatment program might look like.
For example, if your loved one:
- Has severe addiction symptoms, the solution might be an inpatient program, where your loved one lives at a treatment facility. They’ll have round-the-clock support and a break from their everyday stresses and responsibilities.
- Has tried recovery multiple times, they’ll need a fresh start. The same program they’ve used before might not be the solution. Seek out a new facility with treatment elements your loved one hasn’t tried in the past.
- Doesn’t have insurance, can you afford to help pay for care? If your loved one is your child and their under the age of 26, their treatment may be covered under your health insurance plan. Even if your loved one has health insurance, they may still struggle to pay bills and offering some financial support can help aid their recovery. If you can’t help or don’t feel comfortable doing so, look into a state-funded behavioral health treatment center. A program like this could provide free care or reduced-fee services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a great resource. You can call their National Helpline anytime at 1-800-662-HELP.
- Has a stable home life, intensive outpatient programs offer critical care without the high price tag of inpatient services. If your loved one is able to keep appointments and do homework— or you’re willing to help—this could be a good option. If they don’t have a safe home environment that’s free of addiction triggers, look into a sober living environment, where they can live while they get outpatient care.
Now you’re ready to seek out treatment programs. Most have websites, and you can find them with web searches. Make a list of several that may be right for your loved one.
7 Questions to Ask Treatment Providers
How can you choose between treatment programs? You’ll need to make contact. While you can learn a lot about a facility online, it helps to call too, so you can ask questions and get a better feel for the staff at any center you’re considering.
Here are a few questions it can be helpful to ask:
- What’s the ratio of staff to clients? Your loved one will need time with professionals to heal. Make sure the program isn’t so crowded they’ll get ignored.
- Can you tell me about staff qualifications? Whom will your loved one work with? This is especially critical if they are facing a mental health issue too. You’ll need to make sure the staff has the education and the background to conduct an effective treatment program for a dual diagnosis.
- How do you tailor care? Every person with an addiction is different. The treatment center should honor those differences. Find out what screening tests are given upon admission, and learn how those results change the treatment program.
- Can you address co-occurring conditions? Does the center offer mental health testing? If issues are spotted, how does that inform the treatment program? Are there professionals who can prescribe medications if needed?
- What aftercare services do you provide? Addictions can be persistent, and it’s not uncommon for people to need ongoing support when formal treatment is finished. Find out about alumni programs, additional counseling, and support group work.
- Do you use evidence-based therapies? Treatment programs should provide research that validates the solutions they offer.
- Will you accept this insurance plan? You may have already spoken with insurance agents, but bring up the question of insurance when you’re talking to the treatment center as well—to be sure you’re covered from all sides. At Footprints to Recovery, you can start the process of verifying your loved one’s insurance online here.
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Support Your Loved One’s Recovery
You’ve selected a program that seems right for the person you love. What happens next? It’s time to have a conversation.
Sit down with your loved one and discuss the program—or programs—you’ve selected. Talk about why it seems like a good fit and explain how you came to that decision. If you can, offer materials the person can study when your talk is through.
Some people are ready to be free of addiction, and they’ll leap at the chance for sobriety. Others need time to process what you’ve said and why. If your loved one is still deep in the throes of addiction—and possibly in denial about that—an intervention may be necessary. In any case, be open, honest, and kindhearted. This is a delicate moment in recovery, and you can help it go smoothly.
When the person chooses to enroll, come along to the intake appointment. If you’ve selected inpatient care, you may not be permitted to stay long. But if it’s an outpatient facility, find out when you can come back to pick your loved one up.
Regardless of the format of care, you can help by:
Listening – Let your loved one tell you how therapy is progressing and how life is changing. Some people won’t feel like talking, and that’s okay. But if the conversation starts, don’t block it with criticisms or interruptions.
Expressing Support – The person you love is doing something remarkable. Don’t forget that. And tell them how proud you are!
Erasing Roadblocks – Is transportation keeping your loved one from care? What about childcare? Do what you can to help clear those problems away.
Being Patient – You’ve done hard work, and you expect results. That’s understandable. But recovery takes time, and you can’t control anyone’s feelings or behaviors. Try not to set unrealistic deadlines.
Learn more about how to talk to your loved one about their addiction here.
What If My Loved One Doesn’t Accept Help?
Your loved one may be grateful and relieved by the support you’re showing them. They may be receptive to treatment and eager to get started. Or they may feel confused, upset, or even betrayed.
Your loved one may not see their addiction the way you do. They might believe they’re doing just fine the way they are. Even if they know they’re not okay, they may still not want help. When you’re discussing treatment with someone who isn’t receptive, remember to keep the focus on you. Talk about how you are scared and worried. Never use attacking or blaming language.
People change only when they want to change. As painful as it is, you may not be able to convince your loved one to attend treatment and will have to wait for them to be ready. Make it clear you will love and support them (without enabling them) no matter what. Be watchful for signs your loved one may be coming around to the idea of treatment, and be willing to engage in this discussion down the road.
How Footprints to Recovery Can Help
If you’re searching for compassionate, effective addiction treatment programs that fit lots of lifestyles, consider Footprints to Recovery. We have treatment facilities in Colorado, New Jersey, and Illinois.
Our advanced, proactive, and evidence-based treatments are administered by passionate clinicians and specialists. We could be just what you’ve been looking for.
Each of our facilities emphasizes personalization and community. Your loved one won’t follow a one-size-fits-all model here. Every solution they’re given is designed for them.
Our community approach ensures your loved one has a chance to learn from peers who are also struggling with addiction.
Footprints to Recovery can help with:
And we have an active alumni community for ongoing support after treatment ends.
To learn more about what we offer in the facility closest to you, contact us. There are better days ahead for the one you love.