How Do You Help Someone Who Won’t Get Help?

By Ben Spielberg

I recently received a call from an old friend who used to be sober and is now using drugs again. He said that he wants help, but he doesn’t want to do anything about it. I offered him the option of treatment, I offered him meetings. He wants none of it.

After living in treatment for 9 months and still working at Beit T’Shuvah, I’ve become relatively desensitized to the standard woes of addiction—on a daily basis I am exposed to somebody who begs for help one day and relapses the next morning. However, when I talked to my old friend, I realized that he was going about his situation the exact same way I once had: he wanted to stop, but he didn’t want to do anything?

For the next few hours, I racked my brain trying to think of something I could say, some action I could take that would enlighten him and make him realize the error of his ways. I wanted to show him the path that I have chosen. As I continued to reflect, I even tried to figure out the point where my thought process changed—when did I actually start to trust Beit T’Shuvah? When did I realize that I actually need to do something?

This was, in fact, not a recognizable point. In fact, I think I got real lucky—something clicked after a few weeks in treatment, and that thing was not a palpable feeling or event that I went through. I just happened to stop fighting and start trying. But the question is, how do I communicate this to somebody else? What do you say to an addict or alcoholic who wants to stop emotionally, but isn’t willing to physically put in any action?

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1 thought on “How Do You Help Someone Who Won’t Get Help?

  1. No one asks this question more than the parents of an addict. If only I knew the magic answer to this question I’d be a genius. That answer is that there is no answer. You live your life as an example of what can be achieved through sobriety. That is why a 12 step program is a program of attraction. Each person must follow their own path and hopefully it leads them to the miracle of sobriety before they die, go to jail or go insane. You be present and ever helpful to them when they seek help and do not ever help them to stay in their addiction. It’s just so extremely hard to see someone you care about in the grip of their disease. Just so tough. It is, however, a reminder just how formidable this disease can be. Be ever vigilant and never take anything for granted. I consider every day my child draws a sober breath a blessing, and I thank Beit T’Shuvah so much for their part in bringing that miracle to our family.

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