Do Ultimatums Work?

Living with addiction, it is not uncommon for us to experience our family, friends and other loved ones trying desperately to get us to quit. They will recommend therapy and rehab, stage interventions, or threaten to leave or kick us out. For many of us, it seems nothing will work, as our addictions have become so all-encompassing that nothing else matters to us. Our addictions overpower us, making us prioritize our drugs of choice over ourselves, our careers, our families, even our children. They take over our lives, leaving no room for conscious awareness. We become oblivious to how deeply we’re impacting ourselves and causing ourselves and everyone in our lives considerable pain.

When we’re in that place of unconsciousness and lack of mindfulness, it seems nothing works to get us out of that place. Our loved ones’ concerns and efforts are futile. They can feel totally overwhelmed at what can be perceived as our lack of compassion, our nonchalance, our inability to care that we’re hurting them. They can become depressed because of our addictions, causing our relationships to be even more strained and full of turmoil. In this painfully difficult place, many of our loved ones will resort to giving us ultimatums to try to force us to stop using. They will threaten to take away our children, or the house, or their financial support until we get help. They will force us to choose between the relationship and our addiction. Do ultimatums work?

For some people, interventions, ultimatums and other forms of outside influence will help sway their choices. For many others, however, they won’t work because our addictions are a deeply personal illness that we ourselves have to be ready to heal if we’re to be successful. We have to make the choice to recover not because someone is forcing us to but because we have gotten to the point where we can’t possibly keep going the way we’ve been living. We have to realize that our lives are not sustainable as they are, that we can’t withstand the self-harm and abuse of addiction if we’re to be happy or healthy. Many of us finally make that conscious decision after years of denial, avoidance, shame and distraction. We finally realize, after years of hurting ourselves and the people in our lives, that this is not how we want our lives to be. We can’t live like this anymore, and the pain has become unbearable. When we get to this point, we finally have the clarity and self-awareness to be honest with ourselves. We’ve shed the pridefulness and finally found our humility.

The personal development required to successfully quit our addictions comes from within. When we have outside pressure from other people, it can put us on the defensive, make us angry, and give us more reason to keep our problems a secret. True recovery comes when we are ready and when we make the conscious choice to get better.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you get back the life you love. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.