Starting the Conversation with a Loved One About Addiction
Drug and alcohol use is prevalent in many areas. While many people use these substances recreationally, assuming they are safe, it’s increasingly more challenging to know when and how to reach out to a loved one who has developed a problem. A person can develop an addiction to prescription medications, marijuana, and alcohol, even while the people around them do not.
When you know your loved one is struggling, how do you get them to realize their substance use is putting their life on the line? It’s a difficult conversation to have because a person with a substance use disorder may not realize just how much of an impact their use is having.
How to Speak to Your Loved One About Addiction
Though it’s not easy to do so, a person with a substance use disorder needs someone to talk to them, instruct them, and encourage them to get into treatment. Here are some tips to help you with that process.
Find Time to Sit and Talk Without Distractions
Having a conversation about what’s occurring is the first step in this process. Use facts and not assumptions within your conversation. Be upfront and honest with them. Show them the signs of addiction you see.
- What are you seeing that’s worrying you?
- What changes are you concerned about?
- How much are they using, or how has their drug or alcohol use progressed?
- How does their use affect you?
- How does it impact your finances, lifestyle, and family?
Be sure to make it clear in this initial conversation that their behavior hurts you and that you are worried for their safety and well-being.
Expect Strong Feelings, But Give Them Time
Don’t force a person to open up to discuss what they are facing. When confronted like this, they may pull back, lash out, or just find a way to be negative. Just because this is a hard conversation doesn’t mean you can put it off. Remember, their behavior is a reaction to being confronted with something they may already know but cannot admit.
Tell your loved one you want to help and provide specific information about what you wish to help them with, such as getting into residential drug or alcohol treatment. Tell them you’ll be there for them if that’s the case. Then, give them time to think about it.
Most people don’t like being told they’re wrong or doing something to hurt others. They also may feel betrayed, especially if you are someone they depend on. Allow them to work through their own feelings to see if they respond on their own.
Create Boundaries and Defined Rules About What’s Next
Contrary to what many people say, it’s not always necessary to “hit rock bottom” before making a change. One way to encourage a person into treatment before that happens is to create well-defined rules and boundaries meant to protect you and your family from continued trauma and abuse from their drug use.
Consider a few components that may be a part of those rules:
- Don’t allow them into your home if they are intoxicated or high. Make it clear they cannot stay there.
- Create rules around access to funds and financial support. If they ask for money for food, give them food instead. If they need help paying the rent, tell them no.
- Communicate their responsibilities clearly, especially in relation to children, work, and the home. Make it clear that they have to continue to maintain those responsibilities to remain in your life.
Define the rules important to your family and needs. If your loved one is aggressive, create protections for yourself. Make sure they understand how aggressive and angry they are when they are using substances. Tell them clearly that you cannot put yourself at risk. Most importantly, put yourself and your children’s lives first and ensure safety.
Provide Them with Resources
Make it clear how your loved one can get help. Write down solutions on a piece of paper and post it in a highly visible place.
- Where can they go for an AA meeting?
- What treatment center is near to you that you’ve already talked to that could help them?
- Who can they call for professional therapy right now?
- What type of support groups are available through local churches and community centers?
- Is there a mentor they can reach out to, perhaps someone who has recovered from addiction?
Creating all of these tools and strategies for your loved one puts the power of change in their hands. You cannot force them to change, but you can encourage them and make the process as easy as possible. Providing love and support is helpful but creating a clear path to treatment is empowering.
Contact Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Lafayette, LA, for immediate help. Learn how we can help your loved one.
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