Discovering someone you love has a drug or alcohol addiction can be a very difficult thing.
No matter the details surrounding their addiction or how you feel, they need help – your help.
Talking with someone who has a substance use disorder is difficult, however, because they may not be rational about their addiction. They may not even be aware of it or how it is affecting those around them.
There are a number of things to consider when convincing a loved one to seek help for a drug or alcohol addiction. How you approach the conversation can make all the difference in their recovery journey.
1. Sober Moments Are Best
Talk to your loved one when they are sober. Contrary to how it may seem, they are not continually high. Usually the best time to catch an addict at their most sober is when they are first waking up, before they’ve had a chance to have contact with their addiction.
2. Stay Calm and Non-Confrontational
If they respond defensively, be adamant that you are not going to argue with them. No matter how difficult it is, you must remain calm. Take deep breaths in between key points to help yourself stay level-headed.
Your loved one’s addiction is irrational, so you must be the stability they need in order to overcome it! Don’t ever let the addicted person convince you that you are in the wrong for seeing their addiction as a problem.
3. Tell Them How Their Addiction Affects Others
Listing specific signs of their addiction that concern and affect you can open their eyes to the fact they are inadvertently hurting those around them. They may be under the illusion that they are hiding their addiction or that nobody else realizes they have a problem. If a person with an addiction doesn’t know how much their behavior is affecting and bothering those around them, they don’t have a reason to change.
4. Be Compassionate
Express your love and support. Acting with compassion is the secret to successful interaction with an addict. People with addictions expect others to belittle, criticize, and insult them. They even expect their own loved ones to reject them. They are likely already feeling shame, guilt, or a lack of control in their life that led them down the path to addiction in the first place. Their substance use disorder is likely a way of coping with shame and negative feelings they have.
Accepting them but not their behavior can help to build a bridge that will lead to recovery. The addiction has likely already convinced the person they are worthless, so having family and friends to support and encourage them increases the likelihood of success in rehabilitation.
5. Urge Treatment, But Don’t Expect Miracles
Help guide them to a treatment facility that can help them recover. However, don’t be surprised if they resist. An addict isn’t likely to abruptly make a complete change overnight. They may resist even your attempts to talk to them repeatedly. They may try – and fail – treatment, sometimes multiple times.
Once you realize and accept that their compulsion is bigger than they are (and subsequently bigger than their love for their family), you are more likely to be successful in finding a solution. Addiction is considered a chronic illness, but it can be successfully managed with proper care and ongoing support.
6. Intervention Is Sometimes Necessary
If others have noticed the addiction and want to help, staging an intervention may be an option. This is especially beneficial when the addict is defiant toward sobriety or if multiple individual attempts to help them get clean have been unsuccessful.
Intervention professionals are a great resource when you’re dealing with a powerful addiction that is clouding your loved one’s judgment or someone who is prone to relapse. A professional can also help keep everyone safe if your loved one has a history of aggressive and/or violent behavior due to a substance use disorder.
7. Don’t Give Up
Talking to your loved one about their addiction is difficult, but it is also necessary. As much as they may resist your attempts to help them recover, it is important that you not give up.
Addiction is a disease, and no one can conquer it alone. Having the right attitude and being prepared will make all the difference in the success of your loved one’s rehabilitation.