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Is it true "You Can't Help Someone Unless They Want To Help Themselves First?"

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Friend' started by minderbender, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. minderbender

    minderbender Member

    This saying is frequently brought up in addiction rehabilitation conversations. In my own experience with an addict brother and significant other, this seems to ring true. But at what point is it appropriate to really cut a person off? Some addicts simply do not respond to tough love and will be infinitely worse if this is imposed. We see these kind of predicaments on shows on television that stage interventions. Sometimes the addict may really not know what is best for them or want to help themselves and this realization only comes later after they already have begun treatment. Any thoughts here?
    KaseyHopeMartin likes this.
  2. L_B

    L_B Community Champion

    I really believe you can't help somebody who doesn't want to help themselves. I am living that life and no amount of begging, nagging, preaching, pleading, tears will make them change their ways if they don't want to. They talk about wanting change but when it gets down to it they won't use the resources available. It is a frustrating situation when you know they need help but they refuse to get it.
    KaseyHopeMartin and MrsJones like this.
  3. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    I think the belief that you can't help someone unless they realize they have a problem or are ready to help themselves isn't entirely true. While there's a possibility that someone who's forced to get treatment might go back to using drugs once it's done only a few fall back.

    The percentage of people who voluntarily seek treatment and those who are forced to get treatment that fully recover is almost the same [when compared against each other] so even if someone isn't ready to fight their addiction and s/he's forced to get treatment at the end of it, the treatment might work.
  4. GettingBetter

    GettingBetter Senior Contributor

    This saying also has a lot to do with avoiding codependence also I think. Many people try to "help" the addict in their lives by giving them a place to live, food, money, paying for things for them. Sometimes tough love is the only way to prevent your own life from spiraling out of control because of a relationship with an addict who doesn't want change.
  5. MyDigitalpoint

    MyDigitalpoint Community Champion

    I would agree that isn't always true that one can't help someone unless a person wants to be helped.

    Like with many other things in life, it's totally an individual experience for each people. Usually true; someone who needs help may get mad if you get closer to help, but sometimes you could find someone who is desperately needing that someone come to help, being unable to ask for support, and thanking when finally is received unexpectedly.
  6. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    Like Al-Anon teaches us, we didn't cause it, we can't control it, and we can't cure it. We can offer help and support if the addict is willing to seek treatment, and we can tell the addict about our concerns for their health and well-being. But we can't make them do anything.
    MrsJones likes this.
  7. 6up

    6up Community Champion

    Most people don't realise that they are addicted until someone else talks to them about their addiction. How can someone help themselves if they first don't realise that they are addicted? You can still help get out of their addiction since addiction is just like a disease. By talking to them, you can make them realise where they have gone wrong. We are supposed to help them by talking about the negative side of their lifestyles.
  8. here2help_27

    here2help_27 Member

    I think that it's possible to help someone the moment they realize that they need help. However, most addicts will either deny the addiction or refuse to go into rehab. From personal experience I agree that you can't help someone unless they choose to help themselves first because I know I don't let people help me before I know where I stand and what I need to do in my life to help myself. If I'm the person who caused the problem, then I should definitely be the first person to realize and say: "I have a problem". I believe that's the first step that's followed by the determination to battle the addiction.

    No matter what, though, we should try to talk to addicts and warn them about the dangers of the addict life as well as show them the positive aspects of drug-free life.
  9. dyanmarie25

    dyanmarie25 Community Champion

    Well, I think you couldn't really fully help someone if he/she isn't ready to quit his/her addictions yet. But I believe that you can do something to help them let go of their bad vices such as encouraging them, and giving them words of wisdom, and support.
    MrsJones likes this.
  10. Sparkster

    Sparkster Community Champion

    Yes, it's absolutely true that you cannot help another person unless they are willing to help themselves. If they are not willing to help themselves, then obviously they are not going to take any action or advice because they don't really want it. The only thing you can do in such situations is try to get that person to open their eyes and realize what problems and difficulties they are making for themselves. I think that in some situations, however, that some people have just gone past the point of caring and they don't care about their addiction(s) or the problems they are causing and that's when things get real difficult.
    MrsJones likes this.
  11. DeathXGun

    DeathXGun Member

    Though this statement is true, it doesn't say a word about not being able to aid in them caring and wanting change. Sometimes YOU need to push them into understanding. Sometimes it's a simple argument that puts them into understand, and sometimes it's the result of something THEY did... Regardless, you can still help them even when they don't wish to be. Just make them care for themselves. Make them understand that sometimes it's better to just... listen!

  12. Vinaya

    Vinaya Community Champion

    when I smoked, my father never asked me to stop smoking, instead he made me realize that smoking is really bad. I felt ashamed because one day my father put a cigarette on a plate and pushed the plate towards me when we were sitting on the dinning table.
  13. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    I do agree in this saying since no matter what effort you put in, you cannot make someone make an effort if he or she does not want to. Also true that helping those kind of person even they do not want to, can make them realize they need help and could make them move. But that is not always the case and could depends on various factors and the determination of the person who is helping.
  14. guitarmom1279

    guitarmom1279 Member

    I have been told this countless times. I have a sister who is addicted to alcohol and drugs. I have tried numerous time to help her and family members just keep telling me that. I feel like if I do not keep trying to help her she will come to the conclusion that it does not matter to anyone and never stop. I feel that as family it is our place to help our family members in their lowest time.
    MrsJones likes this.
  15. dalzieleone

    dalzieleone Member

    I believe that despite the person being addicted, the choice to recover and get better is mostly on their hands. You can only do much. When you have tried to help this person by suggesting healing and recovering options to them, talked to them about it; basically tried all ways and they are still the same and don't want to get help, then its time to let them be. Its even more important to cut them of especially if your life is deeply affected and your health is being affected to. If having them in your life is detrimental to you throughout and it doesn't seem like it will get better, than its time to let them go. That's my opinion.
  16. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    We just don't know what is going on in the mind of an addict and whatever and however we go about doing what we feel with hope to help them realize the consequences and change -- bottom line is -- it's their decision. That being said, it doesn't mean that we don't give up hope but we have to be ready to accept whatever the outcome is when they have made their decision whether they tell us or not. We have to be prepared for it.
  17. Mara

    Mara Community Champion

    You know, we can only do so much. No matter how much we try to help a person out of a predicament, if that person wouldn't do something about it himself, then there is no use. The choice is still up to him if he wants to change his life or not.
  18. Momma9

    Momma9 Community Champion

    Until an addict realizes they have a problem and wants to change, they are not going to change. You may be able to gently guide them in that direction, but they must make the decision. Helping them financially or otherwise deal with problems caused by their addiction is enabling.
  19. remnant

    remnant Community Champion

    Some addicts have no qualms about their habits. It is an uphill task to wean them off their habit. I have previously encountered friends who were in the throes of addiction. I asked one of them what his opinion was with regard to quitting. He grunted something to the effect that even if one quits, they won't grow rich. Others blurt out that drugs are not the problem, that the problem is the abuser. It seems that short of locking them up or taking them to a drug free exile, there is no respite.
  20. The hardest part about having a loved one is knowing that person doesn't want to change. I have had so many people I care about have problems, and they refuse to admit it is or they know it is but they have a bull-faced "it's my life I'll do what I want" way.

    It is true, you cannot help someone who doesn't want help. Because the first step of the healing process is admittance/acceptance. And if they do not have that, they do not feel they need help. The best thing to do is to keep telling them how you feel, keep telling them you love them and do not be afraid to shed your tears or show them your pain from watching them do what they are doing to themselves. Love them, and keep trying. And maybe one day they will change their mind.

    Until then, there is little you can do for them, which is a terrible, saddening, worrying, terrifying thing.
    deanokat likes this.