Have you ever tried to talk someone into doing something they really did not want to do?
Maybe you have tried to cajole your spouse or partner into helping with a boring but necessary task around the house. Maybe you have tried to convince your toddler that wearing pants is not optional. Maybe you tried to talk your boss or a friend into giving you another chance after you have made a mistake that has made them angry.
In all of these examples—and countless others—one thing is almost certainly true: it is never easy to get someone to do something they do not want to do. And there is a common corollary, too: the more you insist and plead and bargain, the less likely the person is to come around. Instead, they dig their heels in and come up with all kinds of reasons they cannot or will not do the thing in question. Often, you both end up angry—and the thing you wanted done still has not been done.
When the Stakes Are Raised
That is a frustrating situation no matter what the issue at hand happens to be. Happily, in many cases, the stakes just are not that high. But sometimes, they could not be higher.
For example, you may have someone in your life who is struggling with drugs or alcohol. You have their best interests at heart and you know they need treatment—sooner rather than later. But your friend or family member may not see it like that, especially if they have yet to experience any significant consequences related to their behavior. They will likely pass off your concerns as unwarranted or intrusive or controlling. Meanwhile, your concerns are likely to mount over time, which can in turn make you more insistent but no more successful in making the case you are trying so hard to make.
Can that cycle of encouragement and resistance (which can easily become nagging and anger) be broken? Here are some things to try.
Give Up the Idea of Control
Some people—and perhaps you are one of them—feel an almost compulsive drive to help people solve problems. This can be a wonderful trait in many circumstances. But it can also lead to frustration if you are absolutely sure you know what a person should do to improve their situation and they simply refuse to do it.
That is exactly the sort of situation in which you may find yourself if you are sure your friend or loved one needs to enter treatment for a substance use disorder but they just don’t want to do so. As we have noted above, this can make both of you frustrated and angry—and probably will not lead to the result for which you are advocating.
It might help to remember that you are not responsible for convincing someone to get the help they need. That is not to say you shouldn’t try to be a positive influence. But it is to say you shouldn’t allow yourself to feel as though it is your job to carry the day. You can make your best case—kindly and with a spirit of support—but in the end, only the person struggling with drugs or alcohol can decide to do something about it. Make sure you let them know you are ready to support them if they decide to pursue treatment.
Help Remove Obstacles
Your family member or friend may be resistant to getting the help they need because they are being stubborn or because they really do not think their drinking or drug use is particularly problematic. But it is also possible that they are resistant because they are not sure how to overcome one or more obstacles that they perceive are preventing them from pursuing treatment.
Maybe they don’t know how they are going to pay for treatment or don’t have a clear understanding of what their insurance does and does not cover. Maybe they have convinced themselves they will lose their job if they tell their boss they need to get treatment for a substance use disorder. Maybe they have young children or aging parents who rely on them to be available all of the time. Maybe they are just embarrassed and reluctant to admit they need help.
If you are in a position to help eliminate—or at least lessen the impact of—any of those obstacles, you may be able to reduce the resistance to seeking treatment. This approach allows you to help in a tangible way without resorting to nagging your friend or family member.
Take Care of Yourself
When someone you care about is struggling, it can be all too easy to let their problems consume all of your attention. But it is essential that you do not let someone else’s problem upend your life. After all, you have plenty of responsibilities of your own to tend to. And you need to take care of yourself—both physically and mentally—by getting enough rest, exercise, and nutritious food.
If it helps, you can think of taking care of yourself as providing a positive model for your struggling loved one. But your well-being is, of course, important in and of itself.
We Are Here To Help You Help Your Loved One
We know how much you want to help your family member or friend. We know because helping people with substance use disorders is of the utmost importance to us. When your loved one is ready to get sober, we are ready to create a personalized treatment plan. And our commitment to a continuum of care ensures they will have access to the resources and support they need to start their recovery journey with confidence.