It can be difficult getting help for a family member with a drug addiction. The process can be both emotionally and mentally draining for everyone involved. The combination of the differences between the genders and the family dynamic can create a hostile environment, causing clashing, stress and humiliation.
Drug addiction is not the same for men and women. Their reactions to it aren’t the same either. You won’t be able to appeal to the emotional side of a man to get help, like you would a woman. But, if you understand how to communicate with him, then you may be able to convince him to get help.
Why He Won’t Ask for Help
Men have difficulty expressing their emotions. It can be because of upbringing or the stereotypes that we, as a society, use to stigmatize them. For example, we often say things like:
- Real men don’t cry.
- Walk it off.
- Man up.
This makes it difficult for men to show emotion. These expressions reaffirm that they’re not supposed to express their emotions. After years of hiding how they feel, it becomes hard for them to identify their feelings and/or talk about them.Since they rarely talk about their feelings, they’ve learned to solve their problems on their own. If they can’t solve their problems, they’ll just dismiss them. If it’s a problem that is too big to be dismissed, and they can’t solve it alone, they need to ask for help.
Asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness, so they keep their problems to themselves. This is why it’s hard for men to do ask for directions, or go see a doctor.
The Effects of the Family Dynamic
In addition to everything mentioned above, men are seen as the providers. They are strong. They protect their family, provide for them, and solve their problems. They keep them safe. This is why it’s hard for male family members, like a husband or a father, to accept help from female family members, like a wife or a daughter.
In fact, a wife will have a better time getting her husband to get help for his addiction than a daughter will with her father. To him, you’re his little girl. He’s supposed to be taking care of you, not the other way around. Wounded pride is what stops him from accepting your help. So how can you get past that?
Effectively Communicating Using Logic
Now that you know men have a problem expressing emotion, take the emotion out of the equation. As a daughter, when you talk to your father, don’t make it about you and your feelings. Instead, make it about his role as your father.
You know that he only wants to protect and provide for you. So use that line of reasoning to talk him into getting help. PrescottHouse.net mentions that one of the main reasons men seek help with addiction is legal and employment concerns. Knowing that, try using the following questions when talking to your father:
- What happens to your job if they find out you have an addiction problem?
- How will you take care of us if you’re unemployed/in jail?
- How hard will it be for you to find another job if you get fired for a positive drug test?
- What type of financial effects are your addiction having on your bills/family?
Remain calm while asking these questions. If he has an outburst of anger or frustration, realize that it’s because of embarrassment, and not because of something you did wrong. If possible, when he finished speaking, ask him “If that’s the case, don’t you think you can fix all of this by getting some help?”
The logical answer to this question would be yes. If he’s ready to get help, you can suggest some programs in the area that can help him. If he says he can find a program on his own, tell him you can look for one together. You can meet back the next day and see what he found. If he’s procrastinating, remind him of the discussion you had about the consequences of his actions.
Don’t be emotional, but don’t be purely logical either. If you feel he needs encouragement, you can tell him “I’m really proud of you dad. I know it took guts to admit that and get to this point.” A little bit of positive reassurance combined with a logical approach can go a long way in helping him down the road to get the help he deserves.