“When an adult child recognizes that he has a problem with alcohol–-even has called himself an alcoholic but refuses any help–-are there things that we, as the parents, can do to bring the adult child closer to getting help?
Are there things to avoid saying/doing?”
There can be many variables with this question but let me give it a try.
First of all, regardless of the age, most know that stopping substance use and abuse is going to be difficult. It means making many changes and most of us resist change. It’s the same for a person who has found himself in a bad (very bad) marriage. Those who know the person can see how the relationship has deteriorated and so can the person—but they delay facing the inevitable. Why? Fear of the unknown.
So it is with the addict. They often know, but fear of the unknown will keep then stuck. The “unknown” for the addict is—trying to imagine life without drugs and also everything AND everybody that goes along with it.
What can family members or friends do about the addiction? The better question might be, what can they stop doing? Often the family will buy into the addict’s belief that their situation is unique, different (which means that the addict has “a good excuse for being the way they are”). Going one step further, the addict now may believe, and have those close to him believing that it’s something “outside of him” that is to blame.
The family needs to become educated on this topic and then move toward using some tough love. No rescuing, loaning money, bonding out of jail, paying utilities. Allow the consequences to do the work they are meant to do. Pain is a wonderful teacher. The addict will need to learn some lessons the hard way.
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