Attraction Rather Than Promotion | How to Help an Addict

16 Nov Attraction Rather Than Promotion | How to Help an Addict

The times have changed.


In this day and age, treating addiction requires a new approach and fresh perspective. The old method of forcing, coercing, and threatening someone into recovery has got to go. Back in the day, people responded to directions like, “take the cotton out of his ears and put it in his mouth.” Although I needed to take that advice a time or two, the response to this type of communication is not as effective as it once was, especially with the younger generation of addicts on the rise.


Here are three effective ways to foster lasting change, even with the millennials.

1 ~ Collaboration, rather than Confrontation

Confrontation turns most people off and unless there is a solid relationship in place, you will get resistance. All too often, parents, spouses, and treatment providers take the confrontation approach hoping at some point he will surrender and say, “You are right. I want to get sober now.” Try confronting a young addict in his/her young twenties and see how far you get. Unless the addict is in the Preparation Stage of Change, this approach is not effective. I’ll get more into the Stages of Change in my soon-to-be-released book.


Collaboration removes you from assuming the “expert” role. You must begin to foster an authentic rapport and trust in the relationship if it is to be healthy enough to influence the right way.


Seek to understand his perspective. It is not uncommon for individuals to see more benefits than costs with his destructive behavior. Your job is to allow him to explore the ambivalence, listen with empathy, and don’t judge. You don’t have to agree with your addict’s perspectives, but keep them to yourself for a while until there is more rapport in the relationship. Focus on mutual understanding, rather than you being right. That said, I believe there is a time and a place where confrontation is effective, but only in the context of love, honesty, acceptance, non judgement, and trust. As Brigham Young said, “never chasten beyond the balm you have within you to bind up.”


2 ~ Evoke, rather than Impose

How many times have you tried telling your addict what to do and how to do it? Was it successful long-term? I didn’t think so. You will find more success if you allow your addict to “draw out” his own thoughts and ideas. Try not to impose your opinions and ideas in effort to create motivation. Commitment to change is most genuine and durable when it comes from him, not you. No matter what reasons you might offer to convince him of the need to change, lasting change is most likely to occur when the addict discovers his own reasons and determination to change. As you do this, he will explore his ambivalence and eventually make the decision for himself to change.


3 ~ Autonomy, rather than Authority

This idea of autonomy supports the belief that inside us all we have Divinity and the power for lasting change rests within. A good therapist or sponsor understands this and takes the approach of being a guide, rather than an “authority figure”. Encourage your addict to take the lead in developing options and collaborate with him on making a plan for change.  


In summary, recovery is about attraction rather than promotion. I promise you that if you begin to apply these elements in your daily life, you will likely influence your addict into recovery.

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