Will Heather Locklear seek treatment for substance abuse? Here's how her loved ones can help

There are steps you can take to encourage a person with a substance abuse problem to get treatment. (Photo: Getty Images)

On Monday morning, it was reported that actress Heather Locklear was arrested at her home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on suspicion of felony domestic battery (the victim of the alleged incident was her boyfriend, former high school sweetheart Chris Heisser) and for three counts of battery on emergency personnel. After being treated at a local hospital, she was booked at the local county jail and released on $20,000 bail. The 56-year-old television star is due to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on March 13.

Sadly, Locklear has battled depression, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, for the last 10 years. According to a report in People, her loved ones are hoping this latest arrest will motivate the Melrose Place and Spin City star to turn her life around. “She has to be ready to fix it herself,” stated the source. “She knows help is available, she’s sought it out before, but you can’t force anybody to get help. … It’s heartbreaking.”

Heather Locklear has battled depression, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, for the last 10 years. (Photo: Getty Images)

Millions of people are in the same position as Locklear’s worried friends and family. And while it may feel helpless, the situation is not hopeless.

First, it’s important to set realistic expectations. “The very first thing I want to say is convincing somebody to seek treatment is not possible,” Dr. Indra Cidambi, medical director of the Center for Network Therapy in Middlesex, N.J., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “If someone is going to take this route, they are going to be frustrated because you cannot convince anybody to do anything.”

However, there are steps to take in order to encourage a person with a substance abuse problem to enter treatment. Cidambi says it begins with asking lots of questions, along with listening to your loved one’s responses. “When you see resistance, roll with the resistance — meaning, try to understand why they don’t want to go for treatment,” she explains. “Your goal is explore their ‘logical sense’ behind their position and hear where they’re coming from. You want to earn their trust.”

For example, consider asking the loved one about their fears of talking with a professional. After their response, feel free to voice your concerns. “You might say, ‘My fear is to lose you.’”

Cidambi says the key to these conversations is to keep your loved one talking. “Tell them, ‘Convince me why I shouldn’t be afraid of this situation,’” she continues. “Make them work harder than you. Let them talk, even it’s nonsense.”

It’s important to mention to a person with an addiction that you will not be forcing them to do anything. “You can say to him or her, ‘You are the driver and I am the navigator,’” states Cidambi. “As your navigator, I will be annoying you to say I think you’re headed in the wrong direction, but I cannot drive for you.”

Also, you can apologize for how your words may come across. “You might say, ‘I know I’m annoying and I know you don’t want to hear this. But by the same token, I love you.’”

And don’t be afraid to add humor into these discussions from time to time. “For example, a patient may tell me they don’t need this level of care, and I’ll say, “Really — your urine [test] lights up more than a Christmas tree!’ And we laugh.”

If the person you’re trying to reach is in denial about their situation, Cidambi says to think of this individual as a child, regardless of their age. “Their prefrontal cortex [which controls decision making, problem solving, and organizational skills] and their executive function of the brain [which controls memory and attention] are not working,” she adds. “Think about how you would handle a child in the supermarket who wants candy and you don’t want to give them the candy where he throws himself on the floor, kicking and moaning. You love this child, you feel helpless, you may feel embarrassed and scared of what may happen next, but you need to put all of your emotions aside. It’s easier said than done.”

Overall, she strongly advises to keep the lines of communication open. “Our society will say to do an intervention and bring everyone together, but that’s counterproductive,” states Cidambi. “This person doesn’t need one more finger pointing at them.”

Along the same lines, she’s not in favor of using tough love — i.e., banning this person from your home— as a strategy, either. “All of these tactics may work when you’re dealing with a person who is making logical sense, but it doesn’t work [with a person suffering from an addiction].”

And if you feel as if you are fighting a losing battle, consider professional counseling. “Addiction is a family disease, so if he or she isn’t willing to do it, you do it,” concludes Cidambi. “An addiction specialist can help you learn how to deal with this problem and how to best talk to your loved one.”

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