For anyone combating a mental illness or substance use addiction, it can be challenging for their friends and family to sit by and watch. As a loved one, you’re likely to feel a strong desire to help them help themselves—but how can you do this in a way that isn’t forceful, yet still encouraging?
No matter who you are, change is something that must come from within in order for that change to last. For this reason, anyone with a mental health illness or addiction must first have the desire to change their lifestyle.
Does that mean you, as the loved one, should just sit by and wait for that to happen? Definitely not—there are plenty of gentle ways you can begin to put the idea of treatment into their mind and slowly open them up to seeking help.
How you can support their journey to recovery
By conversing with your loved one, you can begin to learn their personal needs and, from there, begin to suggest to them the best ways to start their recovery journey. That way, your help will feel less like an intervention and more like compassionate support from a friend.
Before you just sit down and start talking about treatment, you need to take time to educate yourself on their mental illness or addiction, otherwise you’re likely to encounter the “You don’t understand” argument. And if you haven’t taken the time to learn about what they might be experiencing, they’re probably right.
No matter if it’s depression, OCD or a Xanax addiction, educate yourself on all the facets of the condition: How is it affecting their brain and body? When did it start? What are side effects? What does it feel like to someone experiencing it? What would treatment entail?
By learning these things and more, you can have an educated conversation that may, in and of itself, open your loved one up to the idea of treatment.
Remind them that treatment doesn’t mean they’re crazy
Unfortunately, the belief that addiction or mental health treatment is for crazy people or those at rock bottom is very real. This taboo mentality keeps many people from receiving the treatment they need.
If need be, remind your loved one that treatment is not for lost causes or last ditch efforts. Rather, each treatment plan is specifically designed to meet the needs of each individual no matter where they are in the process.
Levels of care help determine the appropriate treatment modalities to give the best care to those recently diagnosed or those who’ve spent most of their life battling an addiction.
Offer to help them research
Sometimes the sheer number of treatment and counseling options available can be intensely overwhelming. Consider offering to help your loved one research and find a treatment center that fits with them. Remember, the desire to seek treatment needs to begin with them, and their interest in finding a treatment center should be the main driving force behind the work.
Encourage your family member to seek somewhere/someone that makes them comfortable, that gives them a sense of hope for the road ahead and that promises to keep them motivated during the process.
Participate in counseling yourself
Family counseling is a very real aspect to many treatment plans as it’s common for the addiction or mental illness of one family to negatively impact the other members of the household. Plus, seeing a family member go through treatment, especially detox, can be emotionally challenging and may require outside support.
Taking care of yourself during this time is crucial. Seeing a counselor yourself is beneficial for a number of reasons:
- It gives you healthy coping mechanisms to implement to help set boundaries and learn the difference between enabling and helping your loved one.
- It provides you with a third party with whom to talk and process the situation.
- It serves as an example to your loved one that seeking help is brave and self-caring, not weak.
Especially if the treatment plan includes family counseling, your loved one won’t feel so alone in their journey if they see you, their family, also participating in therapy.
At all times, practice compassion
During active addiction or while compromised by a mental health disorder, your loved one isn’t going to act like themselves. Be compassionate and empathetic to their suffering, but don’t compromise your wellbeing, otherwise you may find it even more difficult to offer the support they need.
Talk with your loved one and ask how you can best support them during this time. Take their suggestions seriously as your support and presence might mean the difference between seeking treatment or not.
Looking for a treatment center?
If you’re searching for addiction or mental health treatment options for your loved one, consider looking into Rehab After Work. With options like personalized treatment plans, a variety of treatment programs and a staff specialized in care for adults, your loved one is guaranteed to find the treatment right for them.
For more information, or to speak with a counselor today, call Rehab After Work anytime at 610-644-6464.