Whatever the objections may be, they are designed to do one of two things: for the person you are trying to help to delay going to treatment or avoid it completely. This ulterior motive will however be covered up by the the addict often insisting earnestly, that this is not the case.
It’s easy enough to assess. Ask yourself, “What is the end result of the persons objections?” It won’t be the addict going to treatment any sooner. The end result will be to either slow or stop the process of his or her having to go to the program.
I think the hardest thing about dealing with objections is the depth of emotions involved. When your own son is looking at you with tear filled eyes promising earnestly that he will go to treatment, that he understands it’s for the best but all he needs to do is take care of a few things first, it can be more than a little difficult to hold the line you’ve established. It would be so much easier to believe him, even just a little, to compromise – just a little, to back off your bottom line – just a little, hoping it will make the whole thing easier. Without real consequences however your ultimatum turns back into a simple request, and if you decided you need to give the person an ultimatum, you did so because requests haven’t worked.
Giving an ultimatum from a position of self-preservation means that if the person you are trying to help isn’t willing to go to treatment on your terms, you can’t continue being part – in any way – of the choices he’s making. You can no longer participate in his slow suicide. You cannot finance it, you cannot house it, and you can no longer watch it happen. The best way to counterbalance the ultimatum is to tell him that if he’s willing to go to the program and at least give it a try, then the world is at his feet as far as you’re concerned. He will have the full support of the family when he goes, while he’s there and when he’s done. You will even stay out of his way if that’s what he wants. But if he isn’t willing to at least give the treatment program a try, then he’s going to have to live with his decisions alone, without any support from the family in any way. The other side of the equation is to constantly remind him of the “island in the sun” that is being offered to him, in the form of the recovery program. This is where you stress the aesthetics of the program.
As you shut the door airtight against supporting his current, destructive choices, you open up the door to treatment and turn his head toward it. Describe what’s behind the door as you point him toward it. Stress the fact that the treatment program has no locked doors, something every addict needs to hear. Tell him that it’s coed if that’s a selling point. Tell him there’s a swimming pool or a gym or satellite TV or how good the food is, or the fact that they go out every Wednesday night to the movies. Every program has some aesthetic points that can be used as sell it. Paint the island in the sun to through that new doorway as you close every other door.
Ultimatums are also often misconstrued as being the centerpiece of an intervention. While shutting down support that allows the addict to continue his destructive behavior is important, and can even be the pivotal turning point in getting him to agree to go to a program, an ultimatum is only central to an intervention if it’s seated next to a way out for the addict, e.g., going to treatment. While the addict is left outside in the rain, the solution has to be made as attractive as possible.