In our last article in this series, we discussed strategies on how to effectively have the initial conversation leading toward an addict entering into treatment and how a family can detach with love from the addict in order to help both themselves and the addict. Also, recently we published an article with some helpful guidelines on how to select an appropriate facility for a loved one. Today, I would like to cover the transition period that begins once and addict agrees to seek treatment and lasts through the individuals arrival at a facility. This can be a very uncertain time for both the sufferer and his or her family. This is especially true for a family that has not gone through this process before. I will endeavor to give a rough outline of some of the challenges that this scenario may present. That said, as always, this article is not meant to be comprehensive and is in no way meant to replace working with a qualified professional. My hope is that by providing some suggestions those reading this who are concerned for a loved one may find enough comfort in this passage to begin moving toward a solution, and further that those engaged in the process will feel empowered to reach out to a qualified professional for help. The best day for someone suffering from substance use disorder to begin the journey of recovery is today. Tomorrow may be too late
Once The Decision Is Made
Once an addict admits they need help and agrees to pursue treatment time is of the essence. In the life of any addict (I speak from personal experience here) there are moments of clarity where he or she can see the truth of their situation. They comprehend the damage they have caused to themselves and others. They understand and can feel the hopelessness of their attempts to manage their alcoholic and drug addiction on their own. These moments are fleeting as the urge to drink and use comes back quickly and generally speaking stronger. If you or a loved one finds yourself in one of these moments of clarity it is of paramount importance to seek treatment immediately. As I sit here writing this article I am reflecting on the twenty-two families I have spoken to in the last six months who were seeking treatment for a loved one, who never made it to treatment. In each case there was a delay. In some cases the delay was unavoidable, in others it was manufactured. For at least three of these families it is too late now. Their loved one died from addiction before they had another opportunity to seek treatment. I do not bring this up to be sensational, rather it is the stark reality of addiction. Today very well may be the last opportunity someone has to get well. Before an addict is approached by family, arrangements should be put into place to begin treatment with as little delay as possible once it is agreed upon. Plane tickets, if needed, should be reserved, detox, if needed, should be arranged, and a bed should be secured at a facility. Intake personnel at most treatment facilities can assist in coordinating these arrangements. Time and time again I have watched as families have secured agreement from the addict to begin treatment, then in the few days spent coordinating travel, facility etc, the madness of addiction has returned and the opportunity has been lost.
Changing Perspective and Gaining Insight
It is important to remember that when dealing with addiction we are not dealing with a rational person. They may be reasonable in every other facet of life, but when it comes to their addiction they will be irrational, sneaky, dishonest, and incredibly selfish. When considering treatment the addict is being asked to give up the one thing that has made their internal condition bearable. Right or wrong, you can ask any addict and this is how the choice feels. This is a tough decision to make. Many times I have had the experience of speaking to an addict and their family, securing agreement to begin treatment, setting up travel, etc. The addict then says something to the effect of “I just need to go home for a few days” sometimes the reason is related to relationships. For example “I just need to go home for a few days to see my kids”. Other times its to attend to practical details. As in, “I just need to go home for a day to pay my parking tickets, or, “ I just need to go home to get a new pair of glasses”. They go home for a few days and we see no more of them. Over time some of these individuals resurface, others do not. I am not alleging that the individuals making these statements are intentionally being deceptive (though I’m sure in some cases thats true). Rather I am highlighting a pattern that is recognizable across time and specifics. I believe it highlights the powerlessness with which an addict is confronted when trying to overcome their addiction. I believe in many cases they truly believe they are going to go home “for a few days” to take care of legitimate concerns. They get home and the grip of addiction begins to tighten, and they are off on another run. I cannot emphasize enough there are no practical details that need to be attended to that couldn’t sufficiently be addressed while in the care of a facility. When you consider the gravity of the situation and the fleeting nature of the moment of clarity we already discussed it rarely if ever makes sense to delay treatment. It can be hard for the family to be resolute in their decision to send a family member to treatment. This is especially true in the face of what seem to be reasonable requests. The best advice that I have is to keep foremost in mind the life and death nature of addiction and that you are engaged in a potentially life saving effort.
If the family engages in some advanced planning, and is steadfast in their decision to seek treatment without delay, the road to recovery can begin. Working with a professional either connected to a facility or not can be extremely helpful both because of their expertise and their experience. In these situations the most important thing is to begin the process.
In our next article we will review what to expect the first couple of weeks after an individual's arrival at a facility. Later in the series we will closely examine some best practices for reintegration into family and community after treatment. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and think now may be the time to begin recovery please contact us without delay. We are here to serve.
Until next time.
Your friend in service,
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