5 Tips for Talking to Someone You Love about Getting Addiction Treatment

June 19, 2016
Living with someone who has an active addiction to drugs and alcohol alters the life of everyone in the home. Whether it is a child, spouse, parent, or sibling who is living with the addiction disorder, every person in the family is harmed by the consequences of untreated addiction. Unfortunately, there is no way for people in the home to truly disconnect and heal as long as the addiction behaviors are ongoing. Because it is the nature of the disorder to want to continue drinking and using drugs at all costs, despite the risks and harms, it is often imperative that the family reach out to this person and talk about the addiction openly and honestly with the goal of helping them to connect with treatment.

If your loved one is living with addiction, and you are ready to help create positive change for them and others in your home, here are a few tips to help you make that conversation as productive as possible.

  1. Use “I” statements.

Though addiction is not the “fault” of anyone, there is a great deal of stigma around the disorder. Many who have been living with an addiction may have been working hard to hide that fact and may be caught off guard by someone pointing out the problem in any context. In other cases, discussion of the problem when the person maintains that they “have it under control” or can “stop at any time” may not be received graciously.

One way to diffuse the situation is to use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You have changed since you started using drugs and it’s not for the better,” you can say, “I am sad about how our relationship has changed since the substance abuse began.”

  1. Avoid judgment.

Too often, even if your intentions are good, frustration with the consequences of addiction and fear of risks like overdose can cause someone to inadvertently sound judgmental when they broach the topic of addiction and treatment with their loved one. Instead, make a concerted effort to avoid blaming the person living with the disorder or emphasizing your feelings of anger, sadness, frustration, etc. The focus should be on the fact that addiction is a medical disorder, and because medical issues are not the fault of the individual, the attention can instead turn to how best to treat the disorder – the sooner, the better.

  1. Think before you speak.

In the moment, it is easy to get off track, especially when discussing a volatile and emotional subject like addiction. It can be helpful to take time prior to discussing the issue with your loved one to think through what you will say, even write it out and organize it, so you identify the topics that you would like to discuss and stay focused on those during the conversation. Practicing what you will say in advance can help you to choose your words carefully and make sure that the focus doesn’t unnecessarily turn to anything that will be offensive to your loved one or become an obstacle to discussing the option of treatment.

  1. Keep your focus on the goal.

If the addiction disorder has been ongoing and you have had little opportunity to discuss how you feel about the problem or how it has impacted your life, it can be tempting to engage in tangential conversations about specific incidents that occurred in the past or detail how you were harmed by the choices the person made under the influence. Unfortunately, this can serve to cloud the issue and give the other person the opportunity to fixate on anything but the fact that addiction has become a life-threatening issue that requires immediate treatment.

  1. Consider a formal intervention.

If you feel uncomfortable with engaging your loved one – again or for the first time – on the topic of addiction and treatment, it is not a problem that should be ignored. Rather, you have the option of hiring a professional family mediator to assist you in the process and stage a formal intervention.

A professional interventionist can help you to formalize the conversation about addiction with the entire intervention team. This is an intensely private, honest moment for your family – one that can allow everyone to share their concerns about their loved one’s addiction and move a step closer to treatment.

A formal intervention also provides the opportunity to help the person living with addiction to recognize the immediate need for treatment – and enter drug rehab that day. A professional interventionist can assist with keeping the conversation on topic and helpful, engage the person living with an addiction on a more formal level, and potentially escort that person from the intervention to the rehab program. The idea is to not only identify and discuss the problem of addiction and how things will change but to also make an active move toward that change without delay.

Your Family Can Begin the Healing Process Today

Too often, addiction is embedded in secrets, and family members are living day to day in an attempt to mitigate the problems that result. An open and honest discuss, either informal or formal, can start the ball rolling toward managing the problem, helping all involved to begin the healing process. If you would like to learn more about addiction treatment options for your loved one, contact American Addiction Centers today.

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