Why Is It So Hard To Get A Loved One To Change Their Mind About Getting Sober?

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Many people consider entry into recovery and make the decision to get sober or seek treatment for a mental health condition as miraculous. How is that someone who compulsively uses drugs and alcohol every day and who has become chemically dependent upon them can suddenly stop? For those addicts and alcoholics who go unconvinced for so many years, it is often a mystery as to how it is their minds, riddled with addiction and the influences of substances, can be changed. Addiction and alcoholism are, if nothing else, remarkably stubborn diseases. Some recovery fellowships have regarded alcoholism with the words, “cunning, baffling, and powerful” to describe the way the brain insidiously convinces someone to do anything but get sober. Yet, every day, people pick up the phone and call a treatment center, family, friend, or loved one. Asking for help, they change their minds to be open to the idea of sobriety. It’s more significant than just deciding they can get sober. They are going against their brain chemistry and pondering the possibility of living without ever using drugs and alcohol again. Understandably, such a feat would be considered miraculous.

The Backfire Effect

We tend to defend our most core principle beliefs, according to BoingBoing.net. When we are given an opposing opinion, even with evidence, the website describes, “instead of changing your mind in the face of challenging evidence or compelling counterarguments, you resist.” In addition, they reveal, “if you successfully deflect such attacks, your challenged beliefs then grow stronger.” This is called the “backfire effect” where, instead of having your mind changed by external evidence, the attempt backfires and makes your opinion stronger.

Helping a Loved One

Family members and loved ones of addicts and alcoholics witness this brain process first hand each time they host an intervention or try to confront their loved one about their addiction. It seems that until the loved one is ready, there is no telling them that they need help. Often, it is the conviction of the loved one themselves which makes the miraculous shift.  According to research cited by the website, the brain perceives a threat to a core belief as a real threat. Our beliefs are part of who we are and having that challenged feels like life or death. Such a statement couldn’t be more true for addicts and alcoholics. Chemically and emotionally (which is a series of chemical reactions) addiction becomes part of who one is. Being chemically dependent upon drugs and alcohol means the brain feels as though it cannot survive or function without substances.

Making the decision more autonomously is what finally inspires someone to make the change and actually causes the chemical changes in the brain, the instant the decision is made.

Helping a loved one see the destruction addiction has caused in their lives can be challenging. Avalon By The Sea has intervention services available as well as detox and residential treatment programs. We know recovery is possible. We are here to support you and your family every step of the way. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call 1 888-958-7511.

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