Don’t addicts/alcoholics have to want to be treated?
The short answer is no they can still be helped by treatment even if they don’t initially want treatment.
I facilitate a spirituality group discussion each week which tries to help break the cycle of addiction.
The reasons for clients being in that session range from court-ordered addiction treatment to self-initiated participation in the treatment program. Therefore, each week there are varying levels of buy-in when it comes to treatment.
Regardless of the person’s individual attitudes the treatment can still help them even if they don’t really want to be treated.
When there is pressure to receive treatment, addicts/alcoholics can successfully receive help.
Addiction recovery is a process to break the cycle. Certainly it helps when an addict knows he/she had a problem and wants the treatment, and many of the people I have encountered are in that category. But it’s interesting to see how many are not. In our discussions, we offer a 1 to 5 scale of each person’s buy-in. That is, are they fighting the treatment, or are they surrendering to the treatment process.
- 1. The first point on the scale, is someone who is “total rebellion.” They are there because somebody said they had to be there.
- 2. The second position on the scale is “somewhat compliant,” meaning they will offer a degree of cooperation, but they are not thrilled with it.
- 3. The middle mark is “compliant,” and that simply means they will cooperate.
- 4. The fourth point on the scale is “moving closer,” which means that the person is not only cooperating, but they are starting to internalize the program and they want more.
- 5. The final stage is “total surrender” and at that point the person is not only wanting the treatment, but claiming everything for themselves. This is total buy-in. They not only comprehend what the program is offering, but they are apprehending every morsel.
No matter where somebody is on that scale, treatment can be effective. They can learn to break their addiction cycle. Slowly over time they move from 1 – Total Rebellion to 5 – Total Surrender. The question is how bad does their life have to become before they learn how to break their cycle of addiction?
Another treatment option for addiction recovery uses a technique called Motivational Interviewing(MI). MI focuses on supporting addict where ever they're at and ENCOURAGING them to change, on their terms, not based on anyone else. Through research they have established the Stages of Change that most of us go through as we try to change a destructive pattern in our life:
Stage 1: Precontemplative
We drink or use, we like it and we have no interest in changing. Something may be telling us we should change but we are still unwilling to consider changing. We can stay in this phase for years or fall back to it if we relapse.
Stage 2: Contemplative
We're considering change and deciding the pros and cons of changing. We'll usually start to discuss changing, and if encouraged, may begin to move to the next step.
Stage 3: Planning
We've decided we want to change and begin to plan what the change will look like and what steps we need to take to make the change happen. This can take a few months because it involves turning our life, as we know it, upside down. We need to begin a new life, which doesn't include or focus on using.
Stage 4: Action
We begin to implement our plan from the previous stage. We stop using and change where we go, what we do, and who we spend time with, to avoid relapse. We often are attending meetings and actively working through the 12 steps. This stage of action can last up to a year.
Stage 5: Maintenance/Relapse
This is where the rubber meets the road. We've been clean for a year or so, but we still want to use and need to continue to focus on not using. Some of us will become a sponsor at the 12 step meetings and help others get to where we're at now. While others may relapse and have to start back at the beginning. The phase lasts for many years.
Understanding what motivates us to change and how we change can help us to make the right choices. It also allows us to be supportive as we and our loved ones change.