D.H. Asks: My son has been using drugs, as well as stealing and lying to us, for a lot of years now. We’ve tried to help him in every way we can because we don’t want to see him on the street or in jail, but we are feeling really tired of all of it now. How do we make him go to rehab and change his life?
Unfortunately, there is no way to “make” another person do anything, no matter how hard we may try. That’s because: (a) We are powerless over other people and (b) We live on a planet of free will. He has the right to choose what he wants to do with his life – and depending on what he chooses for himself, he will receive the appropriate consequences.
The reason he is still doing these behaviours is very likely because he has not received any consequences from his family first. He has not been held accountable for the way he’s been acting, and therefore has no real incentive to do things any differently. It will be important to look at the ways you’ve “tried to help him” – has it really been helping or has it been enabling? If you have been doing things like giving him money, letting him live in your home while he gets high or drunk and steals from you – then you have been enabling him, and that will only serve to keep him stuck in his addiction and to continue his negative behaviours.
The most important thing we can do for the addicts we love is to make it less comfortable for them to stay in active addiction. This means that we have to stop enabling, and instead set and maintain healthy, respectful boundaries, attaching consequences to those boundaries that will mean something to the addict. It is not wise for you to keep thinking that your son will magically change his ways someday. That is probably not how that will happen. Until you begin to change what you’ve been doing to enable him, he will very likely continue what he’s been doing – and get worse, since addiction is a progressive condition. When we want an addict to change, we are the ones who will have to change first.
If you need help to learn how to make the changes you need to make in order to truly help your addicted loved one, please feel free to reach out to us at Love With Boundaries for a FREE consultation.
All my best,