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If you’re reading this, then chances are that someone you love needs your help. Whether it be a son or daughter who is slipping away to drugs, a husband or wife being drowned by alcohol, or even a close friend falling to the wayside by their substance abuse – the fact is, you’re not powerless to help them. It’s a common myth that for addiction treatment to work effectively, a person must enter willingly. The truth is, many addicts choose the path to recovery only after friends and family recognized the problem and chose to intervene. Your voice is more powerful than you think. You just need to learn how to effectively get through the denial and be heard.

The first thing you need to do is educate yourself. It’s easy to recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction; but if your goal is to help a loved one through it, you first need to understand the full scope of everything they’re going through. Start by reading everything you can about addiction. Not just what addiction is, but also what it means to have an addiction. Go to an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting and listen to stories. Speak to a counselor or therapist who often deals with addiction and/or the recovery process. You may even have a friend, or family member, or coworker who has gone through a similar situation. The point is, arm yourself with as much knowledge and understanding as you can beforehand. The more you understand, the better you can help.

Now that you have a better picture of what you’re up against, the next step is to create a plan. For many, the most effective strategy is to hold an intervention. An intervention is a meeting where concerned friends and family members can openly communicate and show their loved one how much the problem has affected their life, and the lives of those around them. It isn’t the goal to force the person into rehab, but rather to give them a broader perspective of the damage that is done every time they drink or get high. A well-planned intervention can be one of the most effective tools you have to help your loved one; but it’s important to remember that lack of planning can sabotage the effort.

A few things to consider when planning an intervention:

  • Invite concerned family and friends to participate. People who the addict respect and trust.
  • Prepare what you want to say beforehand. This is your chance to get through to them.
  • Don’t be judgmental.
  • Talk to the person instead of talking at them.
  • Outline the consequences if they refuse help.
  • Don’t make idle threats. Be prepared to follow through with tough love if necessary.
  • Have transportation directly to a rehab treatment facility ready if they accept help.
  • Consider using a professional interventionist.

Despite your best efforts, your loved one may still refuse to go to receive rehabilitation treatment. Although this can be heartbreaking, it’s vital that you make it abundantly clear that no one will continue to enable them. This can mean refusing them money, transportation, or even a place to stay until they agree to receive help. It may seem like a tough approach, but considering the alternative, it might be the most loving thing you can do. If you can’t break the pattern, how can you ever expect them to? It may seem futile sometimes, but your loved one’s life is worth the effort.

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