How to Persuade Your Loved One to Seek Rehab

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Mental illness is real, and it's devastating to those who suffer from it, for both the caregivers and the victim themselves. The level of disability due to mental illness is 50% greater than a person disabled due to a physical condition, according to Dr. Mark S. Komrad, a psychiatrist and author of "You Need Help! A Step-by-Step Plan to Convince a Loved One to Get Counseling."

Development of appropriate treatment for mental illness has been tremendous. From the days of straitjackets and electric shock, today's treatments are humane, and far more effective. Unfortunately, for every person suffering from mental illness who gets help, 2 others don't. As you might expect, those who need help the most are often the least likely to receive it.

Society has, for a very long time, attached a stigma to those suffering from mental illness, drug addiction, and alcoholism; as a result, many who suffer are afraid to share their problems. They pretend they are just having a bad day, not wanting to appear weak and avoiding shame. Certainly they would not feel the same shame if they had a broken leg or cancer, but that's because the image of a "nut case" has been so imprinted on us that we can't see the reality of how these people suffer. And without perspective, the victims of the illnesses generally see themselves as "just fine," and often think it's the rest of the world that has problems, not them.

So what do you do to help them seek the care they need to heal? Before you start, it is essential to understand that they may not have an open mind about it. Don't be upset if you are unsuccessful in your efforts. According to Dr. Komrad, the first thing you want to do is let them know you want to have a serious and important conversation with them. This helps them mentally adjust their thinking to hear what you have to say. Find a place that's calm and devoid of potential conflict. Be empathetic. Letting them know you are having the conversation because you love them may calm them. Don't be surprised if they're upset, but if they are, don't get defensive. The more you can focus on their needs with "I" statements the better, such as "I'm thinking of how I can help you to feel better," or "I'm concerned about you."

Help them find the proper resources, preferably in advance, and set up an appointment for them, anticipating their approval. If they won't go, you might want to talk to the professional anyway on your own. Offer to pay, if possible, because it removes one more obstacle. Be careful not to use sensitive language such as "you're nuts" or you're crazy" in the conversation, as it will only cause their defenses to rise.

If they are resistant and refuse help, and you believe they are of danger to themselves or others, there are legal measures, such as the Baker Act, which permit you to seek outside help from local addiction treatment agencies. "Baker Acting" a person is something that should not be done frivolously, because the backlash can be terrible for everyone if it isn't done properly. Explore and educate yourself as much as possible. Be sensitive about the situation, and think about those you want to help without embarrassing or bringing shame to them.

The bottom line is that a change is required to live a happy life, for both you and them. You are not powerless to help them find help. Do what it takes to make life better, if not for them, for you.

For more information on our addiction treatment programs and therapeutic approaches, call toll free at: 800-960-5041. Florida Center for Recovery offers residential drug and alcohol rehab treatment through 12-Step and Non 12-Step Programs.

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