You or someone that you love may be struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism.
If so, what are the options for that individual? How can they get help, and from where?
First of all, we should break this down into a few distinct cases.
The first case is the person who is in denial. Now keep in mind that there are several stages of denial, and they could be anywhere from being in outright denial in which they refuse to entertain the idea that they have any problem at all, to the other end of the spectrum in which they know that they have a problem but they just don’t think that treatment could help them. And there are gradations in between those two.
So if they happen to still be in some form of denial (either denial of the problem, or denial of the solution, or a mixture of the two), then you need to do some work before you rush them off to a treatment program.
The problem is that you cannot directly convince or force another person to want recovery for themselves. You can suggest or even threaten them with certain consequences, but you cannot force them to want to be sober.
Therefore you have to use a bit of tact here. One way to do so is by offering to help them if and when they want the help. So you can say to a struggling alcoholic: “I will do everything that I can to help you overcome your problem, but only after you decide that you really want to get professional help.”
I think that the word “professional” is important here. The reason for this is because many alcoholics and addicts are very good at manipulating people in order to get what they want. So you might offer to help them with their alcoholism, and they might fire back at you with “Oh great, I really do need the help, here is what I could use from you….” and they actually have no intention of getting clean and sober, and all they are doing is trying to buy time, resources, money, or booze itself. They may have no intention of quitting at that moment, yet they might still agree that they need “help,” at which point they will begin trying to manipulate the situation.
If you tell them that you will help them get “professional help” for their problem, then that limits it to inpatient treatment, counseling, therapy, AA meetings, and real world solutions that actually help people with addiction problems.
The other possibility is to attempt to organize an intervention of sorts, which in some cases could even be a professionally organized intervention. I have mixed feelings about this because in some cases a confrontational intervention can fail or even backfire, producing a new level of resentment and tension in the relationship that may have already been strained. But it is an option that a family might choose to use if they are desperate enough, such as when an alcoholic is clearly way out of control and very likely to suffer major consequences as a result of their addiction.
So those are really the only options for someone who is stuck in denial–you can confront them yourself, or you can do so in a group as in the case of a formal intervention, but the bottom line is that you must try to convince the person to go to rehab. Inpatient treatment is really the gold standard in this case, and that should really be the goal for anyone who is worried about an addict or alcoholic who is struggling.
There are some other solutions, alternatives if you will, but these are not going to be a realistic option for an alcoholic who is really struggling. For example, you could convince a person to see a therapist once a week and do some counseling. But honestly, if you do this, the counselor or therapist is just going to try to convince the alcoholic to seek inpatient treatment. And another option would be for the struggling alcoholic to simply start attending local AA meetings. But again, if the person is truly struggling then the people in AA would do well to try to direct the alcoholic to inpatient treatment services.
In other words, if the local AA meeting has a person show up who is obviously still drinking, someone who maybe has the shakes because they are in withdrawal, then that group of people is likely to try to direct the alcoholic into a medical detox facility. In fact, this is the only medically sound option that is available if they are clearly in alcohol withdrawal. The detoxification process can be harmful and even fatal if not supervised.
So again, there are some other treatment options out there: meetings, counseling, group therapy, IOP, and so on. But none of these options really make sense for an alcoholic who is struggling, who is physically dependent on their drug of choice, who clearly needs inpatient and medical care in order to safely get through withdrawal.
These are really secondary options, they are forms of treatment for alcoholism that only make sense for an addict or alcoholic who is already safely through the physical withdrawal portion of their recovery.
Case in point, if you go see a therapist for an hour each week while you are still drinking every night, that therapist is likely going to focus on trying to get you to go to inpatient treatment. They know that very little progress is going to made while you are still self medicating every day with alcohol, and that in order to make any kind of real progress in your life you are going to need to find sobriety. So they direct you to seek out professional treatment, usually in the form of inpatient rehab.
So while there are many different treatment options, ranging from a single hour of one to one counseling, to group therapy, to 28 days in a rehab facility–there is really only one strong option for an alcoholic who is truly struggling. That option is to get themselves checked into a treatment facility, the kind that has a full medical detox and also a residential portion of treatment. Also note that when someone goes to inpatient rehab, they also generally follow up with aftercare such as group therapy, AA meetings, and one on one counseling or therapy. So in many ways, when you go to inpatient treatment, you really get the best of all worlds, because you get access to nearly every type of professional treatment that exists.
Sure, there are some choices that could be made, some alternatives to be explored, but for the most part, just getting checked into a 28 day program is the ticket to new life in recovery. No other solution offers that same level of immersion into recovery, no other solution gives you the kind of security and safety that will insure you even reach the point of being sober for 28 days. Anyone who goes to outpatient, or individual counseling, or meetings is going to struggle to make it to 28 days sober, but someone who goes to inpatient treatment is all but insured that they will get there. So give yourself every advantage by checking into a 28 day program. Many people regret not going to rehab, but no one ever regrets checking into a 28 day program. It can only lead to more peace, serenity, and happiness in your life.