When They Don't Want your Help with their Addiction

My brother, John, is an alcoholic. He’s been drinking for 23 years.
John has lost everything due to his alcoholism, his wife and children, his job, and his home. He lives on the streets, staying at the local men’s shelter whenever he can get the $2.50 together that is required. Since he has no income, he panhandles for booze money and rarely eats a decent meal.
I have tried praying for John, and I’ve tried talking to him directly, but it all falls on deaf ears. Feeling desperate to help him, and out of ideas, I decided to do some research.

The Debate

One of the first things I learned is that there is an ongoing debate whether or not someone who doesn’t want to be helped can actually be helped. One camp says they have to want to be helped, but the other camp says that most people who go into treatment aren’t going there entirely voluntarily, but they can still be helped.
Whether their family stops enabling them and says they will cut them off if they don’t go, or they are sent there by court order, there are a lot people who go into treatment that don’t want to quit drinking or using drugs, yet many of those people go on to achieve lifelong sobriety.
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Getting Educated

Changes occur in an addict’s brain due to all the alcohol or drugs they have consumed, and it actually prevents them from making the decision to quit. Their bodies have come to depend on their substance of choice, and they don’t feel normal without it.
They can, however, easily come up with a list of excuses, many of which I’ve heard from John before. These may include:

  • “I can quit if I want to.” I know I can’t make him quit, but I know what I can do: learn as much as I can about addiction so that I can better understand what he is going through. That understanding will give me the insight that just may reach him.
  • “I only drink to be social.” While this one doesn’t apply to John, I learned that one needs to point out that the addict’s social life does not improve by using, and how does that explain when they drink alone?
  • “I don’t have time.” If work or school is used as an excuse, we are to remind them that rehab will make them more productive in the long run since they are not spending time using. Their quality of life, health, and career will improve.
  • “I can’t afford treatment.” If money is an obstacle, remind them that the money they won’t be spending on alcohol or drugs will help. Also, there are programs out there that help with the cost. We can offer to help them with that.
  • “I’m not hurting anyone.” I am going to tell John that his decisions have consequences that are hurting those who love him.

Self Care

I also learned how important it is to take care of myself. That includes no more enabling him and finding a support group, such as Al-Anon where others will offer support.

Setting Limits

By establishing boundaries, I can regain control of my own life, and John will have to face the consequences of his decision to continue drinking.

Staging an Intervention

I can get his attention and help him to see the consequences of his decision to keep drinking.
Whether John is ready or not, my getting involved is showing him love, a powerful force to break through his addiction.
If you are concerned about a loved one who may need treatment  for alcoholism or drug addiction, please contact Oceanfront Recovery today to discuss detox and treatment options. One of our professional and compassionate intake advisors will speak with you at 877-279-1777 today.