A Guide For Talking to a Loved One About Drug Addiction

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Health

Are you worried about alcohol or drug use by your loved one? If yes, it’s wise to let them know your concerns. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have a right to say anything or meddle in the affairs of your loved one. However, remaining silent will only lead to the progression of their addiction.

But, how do you talk to a loved one about their alcoholism or drug addiction? Well, this can be challenging because you don’t know how they will respond. And, how you approach the matter can influence their reaction and how the loved one will relate with you moving forward. Here are tips that will enable you to engage in a meaningful conversation that may encourage your loved one to undergo treatment for addiction.

Choose a Location and Time

Talking to a loved one about addiction when under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not turn out well. That’s because drugs and alcohol impair judgment, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. As such, it’s advisable to wait until when your loved one is sober to talk about their addiction. You can call a drug hotline (check at Addiction Resource) if unsure about the right time to talk about addiction.

Nevertheless, the early hours of the morning are ideal for having this conversation. Bear in mind the fact that substance abuse and addiction are sensitive subjects. Therefore, choose a private place without distractions to talk about it. Avoid talking about addiction in a crowded place like a restaurant. Also, don’t talk about it when children are around or preparing to go to school. Instead, choose a place without distractions and time when your loved one is not under the influence of the addictive substance.

Be Calm

It’s easy to feel frustrated and angry about an adult that continues to abuse alcohol or drugs even when the negative effects they have on their life and health are clear. Nevertheless, don’t let emotions take control over you. Instead, be calm and focus on having a conversation intended to encourage them to find and undergo treatment.

You can even write down the feelings you wish to express to your loved one beforehand. Alternatively, practice a script of the things you wish to say to your loved one. This will give you an objective perspective when discussing the issue.

If not confident about your ability to stay calm when talking to your loved one about drug addiction, seek help from support groups. Groups like Al-Anon can be beneficial when determining the best way to approach a loved one without being overcome by emotions.

Think About Possible Triggers for the Addictive Behavior

Perhaps, you noticed substance abuse signs in your loved one recently. Well, this could have been triggered by something. Find out what it is before you talk to your loved one about their addiction. Turning to alcohol or drugs is a common response for some people when faced with traumatic situations or distressing emotions.

Some of the situations that can potentially trigger substance abuse and subsequent addiction include:

  • Loss of employment  
               
  • Divorce                       
               
  • Losing a loved one    
               
  • Financial problems like bankruptcy   
               
  • Health crisis   
               
  • Social isolation          
               
  • Chronic pain  
               
  • Estrangement from family or friends
               
  • Traumatic events like natural disaster or crime        

Anybody can be affected by substance abuse. However, not everybody will know when to stop using an addictive substance or call rehab to seek professional assistance. Individuals with a history of mental health problems like anxiety and depression are more vulnerable to triggers. Therefore, understanding issues that a loved one is struggling with can help you in determining the most appropriate way to address their addiction.

Show Compassion

Some people believe that addicts know the problems caused by their addictive behaviors. However, this is not true. Most people with substance abuse problems and addiction feel powerless. Thus, they can’t stop using addictive substances without professional assistance.

Avoid using judgment statements to imply that abusing addictive substances shows that your loved one doesn’t have the willpower. That’s because it will only make them defensive. Some of the statements to avoid when talking to a loved one include:

  • This is not how we raised you           
               
  • You would quit using the addictive substances if you sincerely loved me   
               
  • It’s hard to believe you can do this    
               
  • Your behavior embarrasses me        
               
  • You should know better         

Instead, say things like:

  • You’re clearly having a difficult time and I will help you
               
  • Your behavior worries me when under the influence of the drug or alcohol            
               
  • I’m worried about the effects of substance use on your health        
               
  • This is not easy to discuss but we will work together to find a solution       
               
  • We can overcome the problem together       
               
  • I will always be here to help and support you get through this         

Showing compassion can easily convince a loved one to call a drug hotline number to inquire about the available treatment than being judgmental and confrontational.

Be Ready for Resistance

Research indicates that resistance is a stage in the process of addressing the issue of addiction to alcohol or drugs. Your loved one may want to make excuses for justifying their addictive behavior regardless of how reasonable or calm you are. For instance, your loved one can say that using the addictive substance helps them relax. They can claim to be under stress or using it the same way other people do.

However, don’t be convinced by your loved one that you’re overacting or being unreasonable. Instead, let them know your concerns and let them know that you wish they could call an addiction helpline for assistance.

Don’t Give Up

A single conversation might convince a loved one to seek assistance in an ideal world. But, this may not happen because the world is not perfect. What’s more, addiction is powerful and even your best efforts might not convince a loved one to seek assistance. Nevertheless, don’t give up. Instead, try to initiate the conversation another time.

Provide a Course of Action

End the conversation by asking a loved one to do something. For instance, you can ask them to call the national addiction hotline or visit a rehab center. Provide steps that your loved one can follow to get help. That way, they are less likely to ignore your concerns.

The Bottom Line

Anybody can become a drug addict or alcoholic. If your loved one has a drug addiction problem, follow this guide to talk about it and convince them to seek professional assistance. 

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