“I think my husband is addicted to drugs.”
“I’m afraid my daughter is addicted to drugs.”
“My best friend is lost in drug addiction.”
If you’ve found yourself saying any of these sentences, then you’ve probably struggled, like most people, with the right words to say and the right things to do.
Knowing one of your loved ones is trapped in the cycle of addiction can be unbearable. Everything in you wants to save them from this destructive lifestyle but nothing you do seems to help. It’s a tough position to be in, and you’re not alone. In 2014 it was estimated that 21.5 million Americans aged 12 or older were struggling with substance abuse. The odds are, every single person dealing with addiction has, at the very least, one friend or family member who knows and has tried to help. Often, helping someone find their way out of addiction can be extremely difficult.
How Can I Help?
The hardest thing about helping a loved one in addiction is figuring out how to communicate with them. Any effort to hold an impactful conversation is often avoided through tactics such as anger, aggression, lying, or sarcasm. Your best bet at having a productive conversation is to plan ahead. Figure out when you want to talk, what you want to say, and accept the fact that you may not see immediate results from your conversation. The important thing is that you are trying to help someone you care about, and you are planting the seeds necessary to bring them to vital points of realization.
These vital points can include: Making them aware that you know. Assuring them that they are not alone. Offering the idea of a better life and resources that can help them.
Approaching The Situation
Here are a few tips for effectively approaching your loved one about their addiction.
- Try to catch them at sober moment.
The point here is to approach them when they are able to think the most clearly. If you’re loved one is getting high or drinking on a regular basis your best bet may be an early morning conversation. At this point they may not have had the time to start their daily cycle. Talking to your friend or family member while they’re inebriated is a lost cause. Any decisions made or discussed during this time will more than likely be forgotten or cause them to spiral further, as stress and guilt negatively impact their state of mind.
- Make it your mission to be calm.
The honest truth is, at this point, you care more about your friend’s sobriety than they do. You are extremely emotionally involved in the situation and you’re sober. Your friend is in the exact opposite position. For this reason it is very easy for the conversation to escalate. Going in, make it your mission to stay calm. If things begin to get heated, step away. Arguing with your friend will simply create a wall between you two, making it more difficult for you to positively influence them in the future.
- Don’t lecture.
Being that you are sober and looking at the situation for an outside perspective, you can clearly see all the ways addiction is controlling and ruining the life of your loved one. Everything in you wants to list off each instance where they’ve failed as a result of using. Resist this urge. Although it may not seem like it, they already know how addiction has crippled them. Feeling judged, and being lectured will likely cause them to isolate and rely more heavily on using. Be honest, but don’t be harsh. Although using initially was their choice, at this point it is out of their control.
- Allow them to see how using impacts you.
Without being overly emotional or angry, tell your loved one how using impacts you. It is common for family or friends to try and act stronger than they are in order to shelter the addict. However, this actually enables them. Allow the addict to experience the consequences of their actions, first hand. Not to punish them, but to open their eyes to the reality of the situation. If they have stolen from you, it’s okay to let them know how it’s hurt you. If they have caused problems for your other relationships, you can let them know how this affects your life. Again, this is not an effort to “make them feel bad” but just an honest conversation about the effects of their drug use.
- Try holding an intervention.
If you feel the conversation is not working, and you don’t know what else to do, it may be a good idea to hold an intervention. When considering an intervention you should definitely take into account that this could be an extremely emotionally charged event. So, it is always a good idea to bring in a professional. Not only will they be able to answer questions and diffuse heated situations, but they bring an outside perspective to the table. There are many people you could go to for this, including counselors, sponsors, and pastors. Many treatment facilities, including The Shores, has interventionists on staff who are ready to guide the family to stable ground and solid decisions.
Before approaching your family member about getting help, it is a good idea to be prepared with a facility option. This will allow for a smoother transition. The Shores Treatment and Recovery Center is an amazing option. We have already seen hundreds of men and women through addiction, and helped them come out on the other side as changed people. It is our heart to be the guide that every addict needs in order to achieve long term sobriety and become the best version of themselves. If you are trying to get help for a loved one, please contact us today. We are always available and we look forward to hearing from you.