What if they don’t WANT help?
So, I don’t know if you know this or not, but addicts tend to be somewhat determined people. We can be a tad on the stubborn side. So the question is this:
Is it even possible to help somebody that doesn’t want help?
The answer to that question is UNEQUIVOCALLY YES!
First, let me define “people that don’t want help.” When I refer to people that don’t want help, I’m talking about people you have tried to get into counseling. You have attempted AA/NA/Celebrate Recovery. You have tried accountability. Basically, if you have tried several things and the problem not only doesn’t get better but gets progressively worse, then you are probably dealing with somebody that is satisfied how they are and have no desire to change and do not want help.
You can definitely help people that don’t want help. You might have to help them in different ways, sometimes uncomfortable ways, and it may take longer than you like, but you can help.
Let’s take a look at some ways:
- Tell them, “no.” No gas money, no food money, no money for clothes, no money for cell phone, or power bill, or anything. Most of the time, addicts have the things they need already, or they want their drugs worse than gas, or power, or food. By giving them ANY money for ANY thing ONLY gives them money for drugs. When they get desperate enough, they will seek REAL help. Giving them money for things (or paying a bill for them) only enables them to buy drugs.
- Do NOT give them a place to stay. Addicts have to either hit rock bottom or be court-ordered to get help the vast majority of the time. If you prevent them from hitting bottom, then you just draw out the addiction and suffering. Allowing their descent to take its natural speed, you allow them to hit bottom as fast as they can naturally and shorten the time until they HAVE to seek help.
- If they steal from you, you NEED to press charges against them. You may think you are protecting them, but all you are doing is enabling. If they get arrested, then a judge can order them to rehab, and they can seek help.
- If you find out what doctor they might be using to get prescriptions, call the office, and tell the nurse your concerns. They will keep a closer eye on them if they are a responsible doctor.
- If they are single and have custody of a child you NEED, NEED, NEED to go to court to have that child taken away or call DHS or whatever you have to do. That child did not ask to be in that situation. You cannot allow them to suffer emotionally or physically because their parent is trapped in the throes of addiction. I overdosed with 2 of my children in the car. Had I hurt them accidentally I never would’ve forgiven myself.
Here is the bottom line. You do not want to allow an addict free range to operate normally however they want. You want to do your best to box them into a corner. Only then can they begin to get help.
Can’t that hurt our relationship?
Yes. In the short run, pressuring them to change can strain your relationship, but so can death from overdose or DUI; so can jail for possession, selling, or stealing to maintain their habit. Addiction ultimately ends in Jail or death. If you want to maintain your relationship long term, you might need to allow it to suffer in the short run.
My relationship with my mother suffered when she didn’t give me the money i needed to buy my pills. When she refused to help me in whatever way i was asking it strained our relationship. When i got clean i realized i wasn’t angry at her. The addict in me was but i don’t give a flip what he thinks. Sober, clean, and clear-headed i appreciated my mother for trying to stand up to me to help. So that temporary strain will be remembered in the long run as an act of actual love.
Prayer is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal.
We could give examples for days about prayer changing things, but I want to offer a different perspective on prayer. Don’t pray for God’s protection and blessing. That may seem counter-intuitive, but addiction violates all laws of common sense. Ask God to bring them to the end of themselves. Ask God to speed up rock bottom. Ask God for The Fear of the Lord and the conviction of the Holy Spirit to fall upon them in a mighty way. We want to ask God to do whatever He sees fit to bring them to a place where they seek and submit to help. This is a painful prayer. I know that it hurt the hearts of the people that love me to pray it, but it’s what I needed. I know it has been painful for me to pray that for others.
Take off the rose-colored glasses
The sweet child, the loving parent, the trusted friend, the faithful sibling, they are not the person you see. It is their body. But once addiction sets in, it warps the mind and the values until the person you know and love is locked in a cage deep inside. Setting them free will be difficult. Make no mistake, if you don’t put in the hard work, the difficult times now they will come later. Though the sorrow may last for the night, the joy comes in the morning. When your difficult choices and hard work have been put in, and your loved one is set free and returned to you, in their right mind, both of you, the addict and yourself will value the sacrifices and tough decisions that led up to this point. The freedom is worth the price. The sobriety is the greatest gift you can offer them in love.
Thank you Greg. This is the first and hopefully the last time I will experience addiction with a loved one. It’s a nightmare no family should have to go through. Your post helped me to understand her a little better. I always prayed for God’s protection and guidance. I still want that for her but my prayer now that she’s at Home of Grace is for healing and surrender to God.
Thank you for your kind words. We do work at the Home of Grace for women also. I don’t know her name, and I don’t have to, but we will see her soon. We will be praying for her and your family.
Wow. You’ve opened my eyes to how I need to respond to family members who are addicted.
I’m so very glad i could be helpful. Please, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me or contact the Home of Grace directly. Helping to rescue people from addiction is my mission in life these days. I will be praying for your decisions and your addict.
May I send you an email?
Thank you for your words.
My addict is just out of a long stint in jail and rehab but now she refuses to work and follow the rules. I have had custody her daughter for 2 years and I thought she was ready to take responsibility. I am letting her stay in my house and bought her a car so that she could go to work with the understanding that she would pay rent cat payments and insurance to me but says ” I can’t work full time it is getting in the way of my sobriety and serenity “. I need my money back and she owes thousands in court costs. I would like to give her every opportunity to get her doughter back but she would rather stay with her girl friend than help with her daughter. She finds every excuse to try to not work and really is of no help at home. What should I do?
Thank you for sharing your story Karen. I prefer not to offer advice on what you should do specifically, simply because every situation is different. I will, however, offer a general opinion. Addicts are, by nature, manipulators and boundary breakers. We say what we have to in order to get what we want. We break any rule or agreement we make if it inconveniences us in any way. The best way to “help” and addict is not participate in their addiction with them. People who love an addict often become addicted to trying to help, or fix, the addict. This is called codependency. Codependency causes us to enable them. There is an earlier blog post about enabling that might be good for you to check out. In essence, we help them be able to use (even though that wasn’t our intent). By watching her child, providing a place to live, giving her a car, and other things, the necessities of life have been provided for her. She doesn’t have to worry about those things. Now her efforts can be focused on living the life she wants to live, which may or may not involve using, but it is still addict behavior. The best way to counter this is to clearly define expectations and what the consequences are when those expectations are not met. Example: you are expected to have a job by November 10th. If you do not have a job, you cannot live here any longer. Or: You are expected to pay me your car note by the first of every month. If you do not, you are not allowed to drive the care anymore. If the car is in your name and she drives it anyway, report it stolen, don’t buy gas, or change the locks on the house so she can’t come back. Addicts only change when it is more uncomfortable to stay the way they are than it is to change. You will have to make some tough choices, and even tougher stands. Your responsibility isn’t to take care of her. Your responsibility is to take care of yourself, and your grandchild. If her behavior is standing in the way of that, then her behavior has to be changed. Thank you for sharing your story. Feel free to email me if you’d like. email@example.com
Reading this has helped me to make a very hard decision! I was on the verge of letting my son come home to stay with me until he could get on his feet again. I appreciate your honesty!
Thank you for sharing your story. I do hope you approached this decision with ample prayer. While every addict is very similar in some ways, every situation is different. If you felt led that your decision was the right one, then i applaud your willingness to set healthy boundaries. Remember to demonstrate that you are there for him. Communicate that you love him. Be willing to help him in any way that you can, as long as it isn’t enabling addiction.
Thank you Greg! This blog has been very helpful to me. I struggle with the enabling bad! My son is coming to Home of Grace in about 2 weeks and I am praying for a miracle! My worries come after he finishes there.
Greg, thanks for this post. I befriended a young homeless 31 year old guy near my office, he’s addicted to marijuana, cigarettes, cocaine and has tried crack in the past month. I tried to check him into a men’s Christian recovery center but he lasted a day and fled. Any advice? I am not financially supporting him and n any way, I meet with him to talk, pray and witness to him. He has been homeless for 10 years, his father and sister are heroin addicts, and his mother was alcoholic and passed two years ago. Troubled childhood, has been arrested for minor offenses a dozen times in past 7 years or so. Thank you.
I have just sectioned my 32 year son who was scheduled for heart surgery due to years of drug use. His doctor canceled the surgery due to positive pre op testing for drugs. He has lied, stolen and I have worked 3 jobs to keep trying to help him. The place the court placed him in is a prison. That’s where they place sectioned addicts. It is very harsh treatment. He will die without the surgery and die for sure with continued drug use. I feel like I made a mistake by taking his rights away and sending him to a terrible environment. He suffers terribly from anxiety and depression. There’s nothing I can do now but I,m freaking out. Help!
My daughter recently was arrested for burglary.Last Oct 2017,her 2 small children overdosed on opiates while in the care of their mother(my daughter) and was charged with child abuse/neglect with bodily harm.The kids are in state custody.She only wants drugs,she abandoned kids.She chose drugs.She is now on her way to Home of Grace in Gautier ,Ms..Are patients allowed visits from family?I have not seen or talked to her since Oct.2017.Will she ever stop running?I feel what i felt a year ago…sick. thank u
My son was recently incarcerated in a detention center. He has been a drug addict for 20 years. He tells me he needs $100.00 a month to survive in jail. I have been paying it. But I fear Im only hurting him. And if he is able to get drugs I’m enabling him. Your thoughts?