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The Best Advice on How to Live with an Addict and Convince them To Seek Recovery from Addiction
June 6th, 2010 by Patrick

If you live with an addict, what is the best advice on how to convince them to seek recovery from addiction?

Is it even possible to force an addict to get the help that they desperately need, but may not realize that they should pursue?

What can you say to them that will help to make your argument and state your case?

Let’s take a closer look.

First of all, if you live with the addict that you are trying to help, then you are probably enabling them in some fashion, even if you do think that you are.  In some cases, simply by staying in the situation with the addict you are allowing them to continue to use drugs, whereas you might be able to force a change by simply removing your support altogether.  This can be difficult to do, especially if you love the person and want to support them and help them.  But sometimes when we think we are helping someone, we are only keeping them stuck in their addiction.

Serious Conversation


 photo credit: mikecogh

Look at the way that an addict is motivated.  They are motivated only by pain.  This is not an intuitive conclusion, because all of us know that we can be motivated by positive things as well.

But addiction changes all that.  Once the addict is caught up in a cycle of addiction, they are no longer motivated by seeking the pleasure of their drug of choice.  This is the illusion that they tell themselves, this is part of their denial.  No, once they are trapped in addiction, the only motivation they really have is pain.  They take their drug of choice in order to avoid more pain, either emotional, physical, or both.

The addict is suffering in pain, and they medicate this with drugs and alcohol.  They are driven by fear and their lives are full of pain.

The addict is also terrified of sobriety.  They are afraid to get clean and sober and face the unknown.  It is a huge, massive fear in their heart.  They will probably not admit to this, so don’t try to argue with them about it.  But make no mistake: they are scared to get clean.

Now here is the key:

The addict will choose to get clean only when the pain they experience in addiction becomes greater than their fear of sobriety.

Think about that for a moment.  The addict is scared to get clean.  At the same time, they are experiencing pain due to their addiction.  But they cannot make that move and ask for help until the pain becomes great enough.

Their fear will remain constant.  They were born with that certain amount of fear; it is hard-wired into them.  Their level of fear about recovery is not going to change.

Therefore, the only thing that can really motivate the addict to get clean and sober is more pain in their life.

If you are helping them in any way that lessens their pain, then you are actually hurting their chances at recovery.

That does not mean you have to try to deliberately hurt them or make their life more miserable.  They can do that themselves.  You just need to stop rescuing them in ways that alleviate their pain.  This takes them further away from the moment of surrender when they might choose to finally recover.

Convincing an addict to take action does not happen when you “get lucky and say just the right thing.”  That is not how it works at all.  It happens when the addict has finally had enough pain in their life, and they realize that drugs can not really make it better anymore (even though they once did).


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