How To Talk About Addiction With A Loved One

How To Talk To Your Loved Ones About Addiction

A Step by Step Guide

If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you know how difficult it can be to try and reach them on a meaningful level.  When trying to thoughtfully present the issue with him or her you may find a great deal of defensiveness and resistance.  It can be extremely challenging to have a logical and heartfelt discussion of the problem without drudging up negative emotions such as guilt, anger and shame.  Talking to an addict requires a great deal of tact and consideration of their feelings and situation.  Even this alone is not enough and most oftentimes requires the assistance of an addiction professional in most cases.  If you find yourself in this uncomfortable and unfortunate position here are some sage pieces of advice to get you through the trying times:

  • Try to reach your loved one on one of the rare occasions that they might be sober or clearheaded.  This can be the best chance you might have at reaching them at their most vulnerable and willing to change moment.  Usually it is best to command their attention first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you, or them.  This also happens to be the time of the day when you will get them at their most lucid.  

  • Keep calm and collected.  It can be very easy to get swept up in the current and embroiled in the anger of the person addicted.  They will usually use this to their advantage to disarm you and turn the tables in their favor while you get flustered and bent out of shape.  Set the intention prior to engaging with the addict that you will above all else keep and smooth and cool demeanor.  They will most certainly try all types of ways to get underneath your skin to elicit a reaction but resist the urge to just react angrily.  Explain from the outset of the conversation that you do not intend in getting into any arguments but simply wish to get an honest and thoughtful dialogue going.

  • Do not judge or act critically.  The holier than thou approach generally does not come off very well when attempting to convince an addict that their chosen path in life is wrong.  There will without a doubt be times when it might look very attractive to get preachy with fire and brimstone like rhetoric.  Although it may seem like a good idea to cast aspersions on the subject reminding them of all the negative consequences of their actions it will do little to sway the heart of the user in the long-run.  It will in fact, encourage them to go even further down the rabbit hole of addiction.  Do your best to be honest without reserving judgement or criticisms.  It is important to remember that they are afflicted with a disease and the reasons for their use to them seem compelling.

  • Be candid and straightforward with your feelings.  Addicts sometimes aren’t as consciously aware of the extent of their damage and and drug abuse.  Do your best to communicate to your loved one your raw human emotions and feelings as best as possible.  Some family members of addicts try hard to put on a tough exterior showing little emotion to protect themselves.  This stoic display does little to appease anyone in the context of addiction, the addict or their family and friends.  Convey your emotions and feelings in an honest, calm, thoughtful and considerate manner.  

  • Seriously consider staging an intervention.   When you exhausted through all the previously mentioned channels and protocol, still to no avail it might be time to seek out the help of a professional.  An intervention is when a small group of intimately acquainted family and friends confront the user about their drug abuse.  There are a wide array of professional services that specialize in this field with years of hands-on experience.  Interventions can cause a lot of repressed and unpleasant emotions to surface and it helps to have a professional around to levitate the situation and facilitate proper communication.  If one person can’t seem to get their point across it may be helpful seeing a room full of loved ones express their concerns alongside a medically trained expert.  

Talking to your family members or loved ones about addiction is never a pleasant task but it is critical if that person is to get the help and treatment they need and so desperately deserve.  Although it may seem like all hope is gone and lost at the darkest hour that is precisely when the greatest miracles occur.  Addiction is a disease that takes no prisoners and leaves a devastating trail in its wake.  With the right attitude and desire to enact change that person can go on to become a healthy, clean and sober individual for life.  

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