Using Tough Love Tactics to Help Treat Addicts
In a world moving closer to nurture and farther away from nature, concepts like unconditional love are being shelved and replaced with things like tough love, with many so-called experts proclaiming loudly that the former just doesn’t work. This is because relapse rates are astronomically high for addicts surrounded by enablers, and for those of you not sure; bending to the will of an addict is very much enabling them.
It’s incredibly important to remember that recovery is about the addict’s wellbeing first and foremost, but also about the feelings of the addict’s loved ones. A family’s quality of life is the most important part of the process, despite the goal being about getting your loved one clean and sober from their addictions, and that can be helped along greatly through tough love measures.
Tough love measures can be likened to a series of ultimatums. And whether used on your children, your spouse, your family or your peers, these measures can be effective at making an addict face the truth: They must accept proper help through rehabilitation or face severe consequences.
10 Tough Love techniques for counteracting addiction and alcoholism
1: Cut Off Funding
Any money given to an addict or an alcoholic is simply enabling them to carry on engaging with their addiction. It helps them purchase the substance of their choice, or it helps them pay bills with money that may have been set aside previously and then spent on their addiction. It is essentially allowing them to live an addicted life, and thus funding should be cut completely off. Justifying it by saying that I’m buying their food and cigarettes only, is thereby allowing the addict or alcoholic to spend more on their debilitating substance of choice, rather than their own responsibilities.
2: Detaching Emotionally
Many addicts bring their promises and sob stories directly to loved ones, hoping to be forgiven. More often than not, the addict presents a series of lies and emotional pleas in order to continue using. This is where the loved ones must be firm and completely detach emotionally.
3: Ask Them to Leave
Though it will be incredibly tough on you, asking the addict to leave the home may be the harsh dose of reality needed. A wake-up call in the truest fashion, most addicts quickly realize that their home life is far more appealing than a life on the streets, and will be instantly pushed into reconsidering their lifestyle choices of active addiction, before being put out onto the street.
4: Refuse Legal Aid
Addicts often get in trouble and rely on you to pay their bail, legal defense, etc. Stop signing remortgaging your property to pay for lawyers and insist that the addict in your family deals with the consequences of their crime, selfishness and harm caused to others. Make them fend for themselves. It teaches that they are truly on their own if they wish to continue using. Do not support them any longer until they’re prepared to live a life in recovery rather than continuing to compromise your own values and morals.
5: Seek Custody of Children
If there are children involved, these children are in grave danger around a practicing alcoholic or addict. Seek custody of children in these situations and keep them from their addict parent(s). The law is on your side in these instances, so be tough in this area. It’s partly for the addict’s benefit, hoping they see the light, but it’s more for the children to save them from further damage and exposure to dangerous situations like drink driving, neglect and possibly much, much worse.
6: Use the Police to Your Advantage
The police are available to you in these instances; so don’t be afraid to use them. You might not want your loved ones dealing with legal implications from their addiction, but if they’re refusing to leave, stealing, threatening, or causing trouble in any way, calling the police shows that you’re no longer bending to the will of an addict.
7: Find the Right Scare Tactic
A great way to play the ‘tough love’ card will be the potential threat of the harshest environment should the addict / alcoholic not comply with your wishes for them to accept the help you’re offering them. For teenagers and young adults there are some “Brat Camps” that can seem incredibly harsh to both the parent and the teenager threatened with it, but remember these facilities are effective – otherwise they wouldn’t exist. For an adult you could show them the typical future they may have if they continue to experience consequences, by showing them some of the homeless shelters, rough sleeper spots, skid row, drunk tanks, prison cells, etc. These can be a real eye-opener.
8: Offer Your Honest Criticism
Conventional interventions don’t typically allow you to air personal grievances in a very honest fashion. You’re supposed to just tell an addict how their addiction is affecting you. Go a step farther here and be truly honest. Tell an addict exactly what’s on your mind and what they will find if they refuse to change.
9: Show the Addict His/Her Behavior
Another good tough love tactic is to actually show the addict how he or she acts when intoxicated. Using a video camera and recording the addict can show this person a side they didn’t know existed, and this reality check could help bring about change.
10: Stick with Your Bottom Line
Tough love tactics are ultimatums – they’re the last resort, the bottom line. Pandering to an addict with unconditional love is just enabling the addict, whereas putting your foot down and cutting the addict off is giving them a harsh dose of reality. It’s either they change, or they lose. Many fear that addicts will take the latter road, but most understand what’s at stake. You just have to follow through with the tough love.
It’s never going to be easy to help a loved one fight their addiction, and tough love measures are not 100% effective. That said, not engaging in tough love and permitting them to carry on can kill them considerably faster. But deciding to stick with them might just provide you with the weapons you need to help you wage this battle.