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Use Your Leverage!

BALM | March 22, 2015

When it comes to dealing with a loved one who is struggling or in early recovery, using leverage is an important concept to understand so you can use it and use it well.

First, the definition of leverage in this context is:

Leverage is applied pressure designed to move someone in the direction of recovery.

Before using it, discuss the plan with your loved one’s treatment provider and your BALM coach,  therapist, or sponsor. Leverage is powerful but not when overused or used incorrectly. It is best applied when everyone on the team is on the same page.

Here are a few ways it can work:

  • Your using loved one gets in a jam – perhaps their car is impounded or they find themselves in jail. Or, maybe it is as simple as they are broke and want you to give them money
    • you lovingly tell them you will be happy to help under certain conditions
    • after they ask what the conditions are, you share your plan (remember the importance of having a plan in advance should you need to put it into place)
    • for instance, “I will be happy to pick you up and take you to the local detox” or “I will be happy to get you out of jail as long as you are willing to have an assessment and go directly to the best treatment situation for you at this point.”
    • PLEASE NOTE: getting a lawyer to help with this process of getting them into treatment is helping not enabling whereas getting a lawyer to get them ‘off the hook’ is enabling pure and simple. Helping helps, enabling kills.
  • Your loved one is in treatment and they want to come home (or – fill in the blanks – see the children, have a relationship with the family, get their car back, go back to school, etc.)
    • you lovingly tell them (in a scripted conversation – ala your 7 Steps to BALM course instructions) you would love for that to happen under certain conditions.
    • after they ask what the conditions are, you share your requirements (carefully mapped out with your Treatment Center, Therapist, and/or BALM Coach)
    • for instance, “I would love for you to have your car back. For that to happen, you will have to complete treatment and 6 months of IOP and sober living” or “Your coming home and being a part of the family again is my fondest wish. We are working really hard on getting well and know you are too. Once you have completed your work in treatment and aftercare, we will have a much better chance of having a new start together!” Or “Honey, your treatment center is guiding this ship. I support whatever your treatment center requires and I hope you will too. We have invested far too much in recovery to make up our own rules now.”
  • Your loved one is slipping and sliding at home after treatment.
    • you have a BALM conversation sharing the facts that you are seeing
    • if you have an agreement about next steps should they have issues, you bring that out and lovingly discuss what it says, reminding your loved one that staying home requires follow through on the points of the agreement
    • at this point a boundary can enter the picture – for more on that, listen to lesson one of the Daily BALM again and check out Lesson 7 on Setting and Sticking to Boundaries

Leverage is covered in greater detail in Lesson One of the Daily BALM. It is important for you to understand and to use planfully and judiciously.

Remember: Those who follow the guidance of the Recovery Professionals in their lives are the ones with the highest success rate. Be an advocate for your loved one’s recovery, not for their will!


This Wednesday, another cycle of the BALM cycle begins. To learn more, click here