Drug and Alcohol - Relationships in Recovery

How to Convince an Older Loved One They Need Addiction Treatment

How to Convince an Older Loved One They need Addiction Treatment

Convincing an older loved one they need treatment for addiction is difficult, but always possible. Our blog can show you the way.

A loved one suffering from addiction can create an incredibly difficult and delicate situation, with many intense, swirling emotions.

Regardless of the severity of their addiction, it can be difficult to convince a loved one to get the help they need to overcome their unique circumstance, especially when the loved one in question is an older sibling, parent, or other family member or friend. Convincing these loved ones to consider rehab is complicated, but it is possible given the right approach.

Ensuring that your loved ones take the proper steps to refocus on a healthy, sober lifestyle is essential when overcoming an addiction of any kind at any age.

Noticing the Signs of Addiction

It is important to be vigilant of your loved one's behavior if you suspect they are suffering from an addiction. For those struggling with the use of drugs or alcohol, it is common to try to hide their use from others, either as a result of shame, guilt, fear, or other strong negative emotions. There are many other signals that may indicate addiction as well. Some of these signs include:

  • Sudden change in diet

  • Sudden weight loss or gain

  • Insomnia

  • Increased anxiety or depression

  • Inability to tend to regular responsibilities

  • Inconsistent attendance at work

  • Anger

  • Lashing out

  • Mood swings

  • Low motivation 

  • Self-isolation

  • Paranoia

While noticing any of these signs in a loved one may not definitively indicate they are struggling with an addiction, it does mean that you may need to keep a careful eye on your loved one to get them the appropriate help for their situation.

Gathering Evidence

Confronting a loved one about their use of addictive substances can be a delicate and emotional time, and there is no “easy” way to have such a weighted conversation. While it may be tempting to jump right in and confront or stage an intervention for your loved one, it may be more impactful to take time and gather evidence of their use before holding the conversation.

Objective evidence and truthful anecdotes are powerful motivators. This evidence can take many different forms, from hidden bottles found to times you were let down because they weren’t available to help.

Finding objective evidence is important because it provides a concrete structure to the conversation. The confrontation is no longer your word against theirs, or a “he said, she said” stalemate, but rather a collection of truths that need to be addressed.

Additionally, this approach helps steer the conversation away from any sticky family dynamics, meaning being younger does not dilute the effectiveness of the evidence, regardless of whether the one suffering from addiction is an older sibling, parent, or family member of any kind.

This approach isn't designed to pit you against your loved one, but rather to push your loved one to face the truth of the matter. It is common for those suffering from addiction to not be fully aware of exactly how much they are using, or how often it affects their daily lives, and evidence can help objectively and profoundly confront this notion.

Understanding How Age Affects Addiction

Addiction is a disease that can affect anybody, regardless of age. For older individuals, there can be a great deal of shame or fear regarding their use later in life, though it is quite common. Parents who have raised children that have since moved out of the house can be left with a feeling of emptiness, called “empty nest syndrome,” that can lead to the use of drugs or alcohol to fill this void

Others may end up with a prescription for an unrelated condition or injury that becomes addictive. Retirement also introduces a wealth of free time that can be difficult to fill and drinking often becomes a common practice that can quickly develop into addiction.

When supporting an older loved one, it isn’t necessary to have lived through these things yourself to recognize the unique trials they present and cultivate understanding. What's important at this point is helping your loved ones understand that they need treatment and that you want to help them get there.

Taking on the Responsibility

Addiction never happens in a vacuum, and it affects everyone from coworkers, to friends, to family. While there are sure to be many uncomfortable moments ahead when helping an older loved one tackle addiction, it is still important to have a conversation about this destructive disease. Remaining silent for any reason, even if you are confronting your own parents, may only allow the disease to continue developing.

Contacting drug rehab facilities, gathering information, and providing support can be done regardless of age, and can be the catalyst for change in anyone. There is nothing easy about approaching an older loved one about their use of drugs or alcohol, but recovery is a group effort, and healing needs to be done in a unified fashion.

Providing support and knowing when to reach out to professionals is crucial for a healthy change. 

Addiction is a complicated disease and finding yourself having to address an older loved one about their use can create a very difficult dynamic. Luckily, The Edge Treatment Center can help.

We understand the unique difficulties that you may face when discussing addiction with an older sibling, parent, or another family member, and we are prepared to help both you and your loved one take the first steps toward recovery.

From a comprehensive, adaptable recovery program to our guidance through each phase of the recovery process, we can help you address the unique struggles of your situation.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Relationships in Recovery

April 22, 2022