Overcoming Resistance to Recovery

Working against the resistance to change

Watching a loved one destroy their own life with alcohol or drugs is heartbreaking. And while the destruction caused by substance abuse is usually obvious to those close to an addict, the addict himself can be completely oblivious to what is going on; they will try to blame their problems in life on other people, or just bad luck. If friends and family try to convince them otherwise, they become defensive, even aggressive. An addict’s resistance to giving up substance abuse can lead loved ones to conclude that they are a hopeless case, but this is seldom the case. There is always a way to get beyond resistance to recovery. And while it’s not possible to force the person to want recovery, but they can be encouraged to reach this point.

There are many reasons for resistance to recovery: denial, fear of change, fear of withdrawal symptoms, fear that recovery will be boring, low self-esteem, an unsuccessful previous recovery attempt, and more. Additionally, if an addict is highly-functioning – outwardly successful, respected by co-workers, friends and family – they may feel that they have far too much to lose by admitting to their problem.

The good news is that there is a great deal that can be done to overcome an addict’s resistance to recovery. Below are some ways to help an addict realize that they have a problem that they can recover from by entering into rehabilitation treatment:

  • Suggest rehabilitation at a time when the addict’s resistance will be at its lowest, which is usually after they have messed up because of alcohol or drugs. At this time, the addict will be more receptive to the idea.
  • Ask an individual who has had a successful recovery speak to or spend a little time with the addicted individual. The desire to emulate this success can overcome any fear of change they may have.
  • Leave recovery books and other material in places where this person is likely to see them and read them.
  • Hold an intervention, where family and friends come together to confront the addict and demand that they get help. While the power of numbers can be effective, an assisted intervention with a specialist can be even more effective. Call 12 Keys Rehab 24 hours a day toll-free at 1-866-331-6779 for help and guidance to plan an intervention that will have the greatest positive impact.
  • Have the addict speak to an experienced 12 Keys counselor who has experienced withdrawal symptoms firsthand, and can reassure them about the withdrawal process – what to expect, what medications are available to make the withdrawal process more comfortable, and so forth. By learning more about the likely experience of withdrawal symptoms it can put the addict’s mind at ease.


Learning the truth about life in recovery can help the addict overcome their objections to it. They will not be expected to live a boring life or become a living saint – the truth is that a new joy awaits them in recovery that is greater than anything they have previously known. Call 12 Keys Rehab today and take that first step – we’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure a lasting recovery.

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