The First Step To Recovery Is Asking For Help.
Posted March 27, 2018 by Josh
FEATURE — For addicts, there comes a point in our active addiction when we finally understand we need help.
When it comes to asking for help with our addiction, hesitation and fear often sets in
As a recovering addict, I speak from experience. Our active addiction has taken its toll on our lives, relationships, careers and families, yet when it comes to asking for help with our addiction, hesitation and fear often sets in. Even when we know the truth of our situation, admitting our vulnerability or defeat to a friend or family member tends to become a mountain of a task.
We know we need help, and still we don’t know how to ask for it. Along these lines, the following information is not only for the addict struggling to ask for help but also for families and loved ones who want to help nurture this process for the addict.
Courage to be vulnerable
Everyone involved in the process of helping the addict must know the conversation of asking for help is challenging.
Openly sharing our vulnerability that we have been so wrong is an intensely humbling process
Finding the strength to admit our defeat, shame, guilt and regret to a loved one is often the most difficult conversation we will have in our lives. Openly sharing our vulnerability that we have been so wrong is an intensely humbling process.
This conversation can happen after a traumatic event – hospitalization for example – or completely out of the blue. The common metaphor used in treatment is that, as addicts, we are “breaking up” with our addiction, almost as if we were in an unhealthy romantic relationship.
The substances we have used over an extended amount of time have been a primary source of comfort and escape. The substances have always been there for us, during the good times and the difficult times, and knowingly abandoning this “relationship” we cultivated will always be one of the most difficult hurdles in the path of recovery.
Willingness to talk
Watching addicts actively destroy their own lives is a crushing experience for family members, loved ones and friends. Even to comprehend how someone could choose drugs time and time again is difficult to fathom.
Those closest to the addict need to be ready for the conversation about treatment
Those closest to the addict need to be ready for the conversation about treatment. Do the research, reach out to people who have experienced an addict in their family. Ask questions about how they helped their loved one get help.
The conversation of getting help may happen at any moment or may be even slightly encouraged. Though it is challenging to pinpoint when an addict is ready for treatment, always be ready and have your homework done. The most important thing a family can do is to stop enabling the behavior and offer the solution of treatment.
This process is painful for everyone, but showing us addicts there are resources available may give us the hope we need to begin the journey of recovery.
Walking through the door
The first day of treatment will always be one of the most intimidating days for an addict. Imagine leaving almost everything you knew behind, truly surrendering to the care of people whom you’ve never met.
We addicts are fearful to walk through the doors of a treatment center; we are embarrassed, ashamed and demoralized. We may begin to be apprehensive to the idea of treatment, usually the closer we get to the front door. We may downplay or justify our addiction and claim that treatment is too “extreme.”
Here are some things addicts may say to keep from going to treatment:
- What about my job?
- How is this going to work?
- I’m not that bad, I can do this by myself.
- I can stop anytime I want.
- How will I stay in touch with my (family, friends, significant other, children)?
Anyone helping the addict get to treatment needs to be prepared for these statements because they are really last ditch efforts for the addict to back out of treatment and continue using. An easy way to see the truth behind these objection statements is to substitute the word “drugs” as the subject.
For an example, when the addict asks “What about my job?” they are really saying “What about my drugs?”
Tell the addict how proud you are that they are willing to get help
Remember to be supportive yet assertive, and when en route to the treatment center, tell them everything will be OK and that they need to focus on getting better themselves. Continue to tell the addict how proud you are that they are willing to get help. Let them know they are being courageous for facing their problem head on. After the intake is done and their belongings are unpacked, make the goodbye short and powerful.
A little bit of hope for an addict goes a long way. Leave with tight embrace followed by “I love you and I believe in you.”
Written by Shane Currin, recovering addict, for Lion’s Gate Recovery.