June 26th, 2019 | Updated on March 3rd, 2020
Sometimes the suspicion that your loved one is a drug or alcohol addict is concerning, but there does not seem to be anything you can do to prove it. Other times the proof is overwhelmingly present but they refuse to admit that they have a problem. As someone who cares about them, you probably have a desire to help them but don’t know how to approach them without making things worse.
Your concerns are justified since many addicts don’t want to admit that they have a problem until they are ready. But waiting to approach your loved one can be deadly. It’s a problem that you have to handle carefully, though.
Dealing with talking to an addict about their addiction is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You know your loved one more than a stranger, so you likely know the best way to talk to them. If you have never been put in this position, though, it’s beneficial to have the advice of a professional.
Here are 5 tips for starting a conversation about addiction with your loved one.
5 Suggestions When Talking About Addiction To An Addict
1. Plan Ahead For The Right Time
Although there may never be the perfect time to have this conversation, there are definitely imperfect times. In the heat of the moment when you are emotional or your loved one is angry and defensive is not a good time to try to convince them that they need help.
Every minute counts, though. Each time your loved one uses their drug of choice puts them closer to a fatal overdose, a tragedy behind the wheel of a vehicle, or a physical reaction that will change their lives forever. Plan for an opportune time, but don’t put it off.
2. Know What You Want To Say
Ad-libbing a conversation this important is not a good idea. Make notes for yourself and look at them while you are talking if you have to. When you are emotional, it is common to forget important points and kick yourself later when you remember something you wanted to say.
Be Sure To Cover These Points Clearly With Yourself Before You Try To Tackle Them With Your Loved One:
- Know The Problem. While this may sound simple – drug use – it’s not enough for most users. They can – and have already likely – convinced themselves that their using is not a problem and might even be beneficial since it makes them “happy.” What are they doing that is concerning? What problems do you see that they may be missing? Why are you choosing now to confront them?
- Know The Addiction. Do your research ahead of time. Yes, addictions are bad, no matter what they are. But without being able to present the facts to your loved one, you may not be able to get the severity of the situation across. If you resort to making up consequences because you failed to research the facts, you may even lose credibility with the other person.
- Make An Outline. If you have to, write up a word-for-word script. It’s better to feel self-conscious about reading from a paper than to get tongue-tied and forget what you planned to say. Outlines help you if you get emotional and lose track of where you were going with the conversation.
- Have A Plan To Help Them In Mind Already. If you throw a problem at an addict but don’t have a potential solution to go with it, you may lose out on a key time to get them to accept help. With a little bit of research, you can find out what kind of insurance coverage your loved one has and find treatment plans for them in which price will not be the reason they decline help. Visit the Addiction Recovery Centre today to find drug treatment programs that fit your loved one’s needs.
3. Be Ready For Rejection
When you approach a loved one with a concern that they have an addiction, be prepared for an automatic rejection and anger. Take these steps carefully. Words said in the heat of the moment can’t be taken back. Have patience and do your best to avoid getting angry or upset, no matter what your loved one says or does. Try again later if you must, but don’t give up.
4. Remember That Your Body Language Speaks Volumes
What you say is important, but so is what you do. Inappropriate body language at the wrong time has been known to start many conflicts in relationships that were non-existent initially.
When you talk to your loved one, force yourself to stay seated with an upright posture. Leaning in slightly shows an interest in the conversation. Keep your voice soft and speak slowly, but not demeaningly.
Avoid standing in an intimidating manner, accusatory gestures such as finger pointing or fist shaking, speaking loudly, or using foul language. You want to be taken as an authority figure that should be listened to and respected to create a feeling of comfort, not defensiveness.
5. Your Best Is Good Enough
Even when you follow every tip here and have nothing but the right intentions, your loved one may still refuse to get help. They may not believe that they have a problem or they may be afraid of the stigma that they presume comes with the admission and treatment in a drug rehab center.
If this happens, understand that your best was good enough. You aren’t going to give up, but you should have consequences in place to protect yourself. These may include putting your foot down and telling your loved one they have to leave your house until they get help or have another consequence that may make them take notice.
Until they are forced out of their comfort zone, many addicts refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. By learning what to do to approach your loved one, you are helping them leave their comfort zone voluntarily rather than through danger or tragedy. While you know you did the best you could, understand that you can’t do it all for them and they must be willing to get help.
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