“Most people will not participate in their own rescue, because it will require hard work” – Unknown

I want to share a thought about a subject that is controversial. This is just my belief, so please take it as “theory.” It’s about a person suffering from a substance use disorder and their READINESS to change, to really change. That is, being ready to surrender to the truth about a problem that is apparent to everyone else in the room. To accept the challenge and do the work necessary for creating and maintaining a successful, responsible drug and alcohol-free life.

With threats, you can “make” someone do things they don’t really want to do – even temporarily stop drinking or using drugs. But you can’t make them READY to quit and do the long, hard work necessary for making and maintaining, a drug or alcohol-free life. They can’t even make themselves ready. Life will make them ready. It’s nobody’s fault, just human nature. When someone suffering from this disease is honest enough to tell you he or she is not ready to quit using or drinking, at least they’re being honest. Imagine if they pretended to be ready to quit but were really not. That would be worse. We may not want to hear, “I’m not ready to quit,” but that honesty is helpful.

If they’re not ready to quit, despite past and present consequences, what makes you think we can tell them or bribe them or logic them or guilt them or scare them into quitting? The consequences they create from their actions will create their readiness to want to quit. The problem is, we don’t know what it will take or when that will happen. Nobody really knows what the future holds.

This is where I found that my faith in God comes in. I think people have to have help from outside themselves, and the less you trust God, the more anxiety and emotional pain you will have over the unknown future that your loved one must go toward. Because the unknown is where their new life will be. When there is nothing else you can do, you can keep working on your own program by educating yourself and getting help for your own hurts, and your own issues. This will be inspiring for your loved one, but it’s no quick fix like we might want.

Also, I recommend praying for your loved one and when possible, letting them know you love them, and believe in them and their ability to address their problems someday. You can always say: “We will help you anyway we can when you are ready to get help for your alcohol/drug problems.” These are things you can do no matter where they are or what they do.

My readiness prayer: God please give me the courage to accept Your guidance into the unknown future You have prepared for my loved one and myself.

Keep praying and trusting God,

Mike Speakman, LISAC, PAL Founder