My son has a drug addiction, possibly for years. He's lost several jobs and uses any money he has for the use of drugs and alcohol. He's confessed to me that he needs help, but he won't make the first step. What can I do, or how can I persuade him to seek help now?
The most difficult step in treatment for any addict is often the first step – admitting they have a problem and seeking treatment. Your son is the only person who can take that first step. Here are TWO key actions you can take right now to make that first step easier for him:
1) You can provide your son with information on treatment options in your area by directing him to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or Haymarket Center. It might be beneficial to have you sit next to him and make the call to a treatment agency together. It is also helpful to meet with someone from a treatment center so that he can at least see what the environment looks like – in order to ease some of the fears that he may have about entering treatment. Most of these fears can be resolved by visiting the center to address these concerns with professional staff and by confronting them directly.
2) Help yourself identify healthy ways to support your son without unintentionally enabling or excusing his behavior. In a supportive, non-judgmental environment, learn directly from peers sharing their own experiences in dealing with someone else’s addiction. Nar-Anon (Al-Anon is specific to alcohol addiction) provides group support to relatives and friends concerned about the addiction or drug problem of another. Both organizations promote the practice of “taking what you like and leaving the rest” – you determine what can be applied to your own situation. You’ll come to understand that drug and alcohol addiction are chronic diseases that often require multiple treatments. You don’t mention if your son has a partner or family of his own. If so, they would also benefit from support groups. Many programs invite family participation in the patient’s recovery process.