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When A Loved One Wont Get Sober

A person wanting to really help an active drug addict or alcoholic can easily fall into some traps.  These situations may appear to be helpful to the addict, but they actually perpetuate their problem.  By using these methods, the addict avoids reality, drug treatment, and sobriety.

Asking For Money To Get Them Through A Rough Patch

If you know a person is an active addict, you really can’t trust what they are doing with their money.  They may ask you for money to pay rent, but they may get a craving and spend it on drugs yet that day.  If they don’t get their electricity shut off, kicked out of their house, or go without food for a little while, they may not actually see the impact of their drug related money problems.

If you know that people in an addict’s family are going hungry or needing diapers, you may be able to give those items.  Or, you might suggest a shelter for the family members to stay for a while.  Anything you can do to help young children is a good thing.  But giving money straight to the addict will often spell trouble.  They can’t learn financial responsibility from handouts, but they can in drug treatment.

Crashing At Someones House For A Little While

You may think you are saving an addict from a dangerous situation when you let them crash at your place for a few days or weeks.  They may even say they just need to be somewhere for a little while as they get “back on their feet”.  But if you know they are actively addicted with no plans for drug treatment, crashing could mean they are just prolonging a problem with their home environment.

Perhaps their drug use has caused a marital problem or they can’t pay rent anymore and have gotten kicked out.  Again, letting them crash may appear to be a benevolent act. However, sometimes a person needs to feel the consequences of their actions.  If they know they just have to ask the right people for a place to stay, they may not be very motivated to work things out with their spouse.  They may excuse their financial problems for a while because “at least they aren’t homeless” right now.

Hitting the rock bottom means an addict might really need to suffer without anyone rescuing them.  You can give them information about shelters or drug treatment, but beware of an urge to let them stay over.  You may have a house guest for much longer than you want.

Using Emotional Intensity To Get Sympathy

The emotions may or may not be genuine, but they may certainly be intense and dramatic.  And let me say, if someone is sitting in the pain of addiction, they may very well be quite emotional.  The difference here is that they use the emotion as a distraction.  Instead of recognizing their intense emotions as a barometer for how much they need drug treatment, they use it to avoid doing anything about the problems.  When they tell their sad story to everyone, friends and family may feel bad and don’t want to hurt their feelings more by making them face reality.  They may try to protect the addict and back off.

This just keeps the addict in the avoidance mode.  When you meet their sad story with empathy AND some concrete information about drug treatment and getting a healthy sober lifestyle, you actually offer them hope.  Commiserating and sympathizing alone keeps them stuck in their addiction.

It’s important to understand what actions keep the addict in a state of denial and what actions make them face the truth.  And if you help them face the truth, they just might become ready for drug rehab and a sober life.

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