How to Help When Someone Doesn’t Want Help
Author: Justin Mckibben
The feeling of powerlessness is not exclusive to the individual suffering with drug or alcohol addiction, but is a characteristic of the issue that impacts everyone they love. The instinctual desire to help the ones you love who hurt the most is natural and admirable, but what can you do when someone doesn’t want help?
Sometimes your loved one won’t even realize they need help. Other times they are acutely aware of their situation, but intolerant of any encouragement to change it because it does not fit their plan. So is it still possible to support someone you love who doesn’t want help? Or is it only enabling them to keep down their self-destructive path?
Feeling helpless makes people feel frustrated with their own limitations, and sometimes the going gets tougher before you have any hope of making a difference. We have some thoughts on what to do when someone doesn’t want help. If you’ve been offering assistance and support to someone you love who is struggling with drugs or alcohol and they haven’t been responding very well, there are some things you should and should not do.
- DON’T use force
Sometimes people try to apply pressure in order to force a friend or loved one to get help. This kind of strategy always comes from a good place, but it can actually have the opposite effect.
Trying to force someone to get help they don’t actively want for themselves could not only turn them off from seeking help in the future, but even if they were forced into treatment it often doesn’t turn out to be as effective as someone who chooses to get help.
- DON’T avoid them
If you have a friend or loved one who needs help but doesn’t want help, avoiding them is not the answer. When you avoid someone who doesn’t want help it only creates feelings of isolation and stress for them, which can further fuel their self-destruction.
When you avoid someone struggling who doesn’t want help you run the risk that one day even if they do become ready to seek help, they might not feel comfortable about asking you for it.
- DO be available
to listen to your friend when they need. Be able to offer help if your friend reaches out. Being there for someone who seeks you out is so much more powerful than constantly pushing your unsolicited opinions and expectations onto them.
- DO get informed
Do your homework! Even if someone you love doesn’t want help at the moment, find out what kind of help is available to them in the event that things change. By getting informed if the person does eventually decide to seek help, you’ll be able to give them the support and direction they may feel they need to successfully seek addiction treatment.
- DO set boundaries
Setting boundaries and avoiding and individual is significantly different. Realistically you’re not going to be able to fulfill their every need at any given moment. You should not be expected to suddenly abandon your own life to provide for their needs. Set boundaries and be willing to stick to them!
Some of these things can seem very uncomfortable. Sometimes if may be difficult to know what is the right and wrong action to take in any given situation- as is life in many ways. The point is to be able to accept that while you don’t have power over the individual and their decisions, you do have power over your contribution to the way it all plays out. Sometimes things take time, and it is OK to be afraid in many cases, but the ability to be willing to help while not trying to run someone else’s life will make you a valuable resource to the person who is suffering.
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