The isolation, anxiety, and grief from the pandemic has been especially hard for those struggling with an addiction. Connection is often cited as the antidote to addiction, and it’s been awfully hard to connect under a mask from 6 feet away.
Now, with the pandemic’s end on the horizon, family members of those struggling are looking to help get their loved one back on track with their life.
When looking into addiction treatment options for your loved one, consider the following questions:
Do they want to stay close to home or travel for treatment?
You may be inclined to want your family member to stay closer to you for treatment — if there’s any issues, you can show up and handle them.
This isn’t conducive to healing. Much of what happens in treatment is learning to honor and take responsibility for your beliefs — a certain level of independence is necessary for the person to feel like they are the one that is taking charge in their own life.
There’s also a shift at the body level when you physically move locations. You’re telling your body, “Hey — I’m really doing this. I’m changing my life.”
Sometimes the best way to move forward is to get away.
Do they believe in a 12 Step philosophy?
The 12 Steps, originally created for Alcoholics Anonymous, is the most popular methodology used in rehabs. While it works for some, others don’t agree with being labeled as an “addict.” Look at your loved one’s experience with 12 Step-based treatment and ask:
- Have they already been to a 12 Step rehab? What was their experience?
- Have they attended AA or NA meetings before?
Many people don’t realize the wide variety of treatment options available. If 12 Step didn’t work for them, there are many alternatives available.
Are they conscious of their health?
Some rehabs will prescribe more pills to treat you. While some people are open to this, others don’t want to put another substance in their body right after detoxing off one.
Holistic rehabs offer the best of both worlds. Their doctors are able to manage any medication you’re on, while also recommending additional ways to bring your body back to a healthy place. These can include:
- Dietary supplements to correct critical deficiencies based on your blood panel
- Acupuncture & massage therapy to ease any pain you’re having
- Nutritional therapy to help you get your energy back & feel better overall
- Yoga & meditation to relieve your anxiety
Will they need to detox?
When someone is detoxing from drugs or alcohol, they should always do so under the guidance of a medical professional.
Why? Because there are very serious side effects that can be associated with detoxing, including seizures, hallucinations, and extreme discomfort.
Unfortunately, many people who are actively using aren’t able to accurately assess how much they use or drink. “I only drink a few beers a night — I’ll be fine if I just stop drinking.” If your loved one tells you this, convince them to wait until they’re in treatment or can speak with a doctor.
The most common way to make sure someone’s detox is handled safely is to detox in a treatment facility. Under the watchful eyes of the medical team, they’ll be in safe hands.
Do they thrive off individualized care? Or would they rather be a wallflower?
In large, institutionalized facilities, there may be 100 or more clients in treatment with your loved one. Some people will be fine with this, happy to not have all the attention on them.
However, most people would rather not be just another number in the crowd; they want care that’s tailored to their specific needs and goals.
In this case, finding smaller, personalized treatment programs will be a better option. Here, they’ll have a say in their treatment and can collaborate with the program to create a plan that’s best for them.
Are they struggling with any other mental health issues?
Maybe you don’t know if your loved one suffers from severe anxiety, depression, unresolved trauma, or bipolar disorder.
Or, maybe you’ve been in family therapy together and are well-versed in their mental health. Or perhaps you experienced a tragedy together (that you’re currently working through in your own way).
If you have even an inkling that your loved one may have mental health issues beyond their addiction, look for dual-diagnosis facilities. These programs are experienced in helping people navigate their addiction as well as any co-occurring mental health disorders.
Now — how do I have the conversation about going to treatment?
So say now, after using the above questions as guidance, you did your research and found some treatment facilities. If your loved one has already agreed to seek treatment, you can show them the options and get their thoughts.
If you haven’t spoken with your loved one yet, try to do these three things:
- Express how much you care for them
- Keep the focus on the facts of what happened
- Share your own experience — don’t move to blame or shame about your loved one’s behavior
So instead of saying: “You drink too much, and you need to get help because I just can’t handle it anymore.”
You can say: ““I love you, and it’s really hard for me to see that you’re struggling.”
If they try to dismiss your comment, you can follow it up with an observation of a time you saw them struggling.
“And because I love you, I wanted to bring up what happened last night — you were passed out on the couch when you were supposed to be watching the kids. That really scared me.”
While this is a difficult conversation to have, having these guidelines in mind can help you to move the dialogue forward and hopefully get to the point of taking action and seeking treatment.
JF Benoist was frustrated with traditional addiction treatment, so he turned the model on its head.
Benoist founded The Exclusive Hawaii, a non 12 step holistic rehab. He created a new therapeutic methodology, Experiential Engagement Therapy (EET). He authored the bestselling self-help book, Addicted to the Monkey Mind.
Benoist’s specialty is teaching people how to quiet that negative voice in their head — and instead develop a powerful new mindset that creates long-lasting change.