There's nothing you can do to force a change in someone else

When people ask me questions about the addict in their life, the only thing I hear is, “How can I make my Addict behave in ways I can understand?”  And the response to that question is: Seek to understand your own life.

You read that right — if you want an addict to get “fixed,” you should first attempt to understand why the Addict’s behavior triggers such strong responses in you.  My initial bet is that fear is dominating your thoughts.  You’re probably quite worried that the Addict in your life is going to die an ugly death as a result of the addiction.  Further, you might also be feeling ashamed of the Addict’s life conditions.  Really, you might be worried that you can’t “fix” the Addict or even that the Addict’s situation is somehow your fault.

Here’s the thing though: The Addict’s situation is not your fault.  Also, while death can await an untreated Addiction, life will present the Addict SEVERAL chances to find health.  Of that I’m certain.  Whether or not the Addict finds the motivation to partake of those chances is anybody’s guess, however, and there’s almost nothing you can do to MAKE someone do something they just don’t have reason to do.

You see, no one has to “want” to change, but there has to be a motivating REASON to change. Even if they don’t want to get clean, if the judge says ,”treatment or hard time,” an Addict will usually comply with the judge’s order to treatment.  But I can assure you that nothing you will do will change an Addict’s behavior.  The reality is that the harder you try to push an Addict into treatment, the more the Addict will resist and remain addicted.

So, then, it’s important for your own health to first, understand your own emotions surrounding the Addict and then second, make peace with those emotions.  Emotions, one understood, will generally burn themselves out and los their impact.  The problem is that few people actually dig into their emotions and try to face them head on.

Look, seeing your loved one become trapped in an addiction isn’t easy. But if you look inside your own heart and uproot the core reasons behind the emotions you will find answers.  Talk with a counselor, take a class, exercise; all those activities may not help the Addict in your life, but they can (and probably will) make you a healthier person.  With health comes strength and there’s no shame in saying that you are afraid of what’s happening.  However, there’s nothing you can do to force a change in someone else.

  1. Juan…this is so true! I’ve felt all those emotions, but slowly I am coming to know how to deal. It’s very hard, but all I can do is pray. I know he will one day reach out and get help. I know this.
    I also am so glad for the book you wrote, it’s very helpful!! Thank you!

    1. Thank you for all of your encouragement. I truly believe (because I have seen) that healing in oneself sends ripples that can lead others to healing — the stronger you become, the more ripples you send into the universe — those ripples are God’s hand tools….

      1. Amen to that!!! I do believe in His promises. I know it’ll happen when it’s supposed to. In the meantime I will continue to pray and hold on to your words and advice on here and in your book. thanks!!!!!