Having a loved one with a substance abuse problem is something that is never easy to manage. The reason for this is that the substance abuse disease causes them to not think in their right mind and listen to reason. Their cravings for drugs or alcohol governs their actions and how they respond to any efforts you will make to help them recover. The issue is with substance abuse that individuals need to have assistance in order to prevent them from causing harm to themselves or others. For this reason, friends and loved ones have to be careful when making a strategy about how to talk to their loved ones about their substance addiction. If you are starting to consider having a talk with an individual who has a substance addiction, then it is highly recommended that you consider the information provided below:
Important Steps to Take When Talking to Your Loved One About Their Substance Addiction & How to Cope
What is important to realise is that there are organisations out there that can help you when you are considering speaking with a friend or loved one that has a substance abuse problem. If you are seeking external assistance, it is recommended to reach out to for more information. Here are some strategies to talk to a person about their substance abuse problem:
Consider Which People Should Be There
Discussing an individual’s substance addiction is something that can cause them to be angry, embarrassed or emotional. It is important to be ready for . If they are a close family member, consider having other family members there. The key is to be sure that the individual does not feel overwhelmed or ambushed. Feeling ambushed can have the opposite effect. Be very careful with selecting who should be there so that you do not have the reverse reaction that you were hoping for.
Try to Make Sure the Person Is Sober
If the individual has a severe substance abuse problem, finding the right time to talk to them when they are sober can be challenging. One great way is to offer to take them on a trip for a couple of days where you can be sure they aren’t using. This way, once you know that they are of sound mind, you will be able to have an honest conversation with them. Bear in mind that the reaction you may receive may be aggressive. It is best to not go on this trip alone and to also have the phone number of a treatment centre with you in case the situation gets severe and you have to get the authorities or experienced medical professionals involved.
Contemplate Where the Conversation Should Take Place
Finding the right environment is key when you are trying to have a difficult conversation such as this one. It should occur in a semi-private place so that the individual will not feel trapped or embarrassed. They may yell, cry or even get violent. Having the right atmosphere in a place where they are familiar and feel safe is something that will greatly increase the potential chances for the conversation to be successful.
Understand What Kind of Addiction They Have
Remember that there are out there. You need to know what they are using or at least whether they have a drug or alcohol problem or both. If you are able to know how severe the substances are that they are using, you will be able to know how serious the addiction is and be able to find the right treatment centre for their particular needs. In the days or weeks before you are thinking of talking to them, try to interview individuals who may be able to tell you the information or search their things to see what you find. This way, you will be more prepared to handle the kind of addiction they are facing.
Hire a Therapist the Individual Is Comfortable with
Individuals that have addictions sometimes do not even realise that they do need help. You need to research several potential therapists to speak with. Sometimes, having a therapist present for intervention can be helpful to offer support. Many times, individuals will recommend to their loved one to go to therapy for a month for other issues and then work towards discussing the addiction in therapy. This can be a great way to start the conversation. That said, the therapist has to be the perfect fit for the individual with the addiction to ensure they will comply with the conversation and actually take positive steps towards trying to fight their addiction.
Offer Treatment Options if the Conversation Goes Well
If you do talk to the person and they are at the stage of being ready to get help, that is wonderful. If the conversation is positive, then you should have a treatment centre in mind if they decide that they voluntarily want to check into a rehabilitative centre. If you haven’t researched this in advance, then you lose the chance of having an open line of communication to get them the help they need. At times, it can be great to go with them that day to get them checked in so that they can start to face the beginning of treatment and be in the right safe environment if they will experience withdrawals.
Mention Support Groups
If the individual is not ready to go to a rehabilitative centre, then you need to offer potential support groups to them. You can even offer to go with them; however, it is best that they go to connect to like-minded people who are struggling with similar issues as they are. This will help them to get on the right track and realise that they are not alone. You can also drive them and wait for them while they are in the meeting to show your support. This will help them to have privacy to connect to individuals that are facing a similar addiction while still having your guidance while they are in the initial phases of trying to get help.
Talk About Your Willingness to Help
You want the talk that you have with them to be positive. If you are yelling at them the whole time, it can make them be more defensive. Since the subject is so sensitive, you need to be careful about how you approach the issue. You need to be positive and show them that you care about them and that you are willing to help them in any way that they need help. They have to know that you are only a phone call away if they are having a difficult day and they will while they are on the road to recovery. By merely having this attitude, it can make or break the conversation that you are having with them while you are discussing potential options for dealing with their substance abuse problem.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Depending on the severity of the individual’s substance abuse problem, you have to be prepared that they may not agree with you or that they do not want to face their addiction as of yet. If this occurs and you feel that the individual is a danger to themselves or society, then it is your obligation to get the authorities involved. There is a possibility of getting the individual placed under a 72-hour hold where they can get closer to getting sober and then obtaining the treatment that they need. While this is no one’s first choice, sometimes you have to have the strength to take a more aggressive approach for the individual’s own safety, which is no easy feat. The key is to know that your heart is in the right place and that you are trying to make a positive difference in their lives.
Having a conversation with an individual who has a substance addiction is not easy. In fact, each case is unique and needs to be treated as its own separate thought process. The reason for this is that substance addictions are all different and how they affect people is entirely unique. This is why it is important to carefully consider what your strategy will be so that you do not make a false move that will drive the individual away to make poor choices that could endanger their safety in the future. Remember to carefully think about their personality, particular circumstances, how far along their addiction is, and what kind of addiction they have. Then consider which option would be best in terms of working with a therapist or having a treatment centre lined up to be ready to help them immediately. Carefully consider your options and then try to have a difficult conversation with a group of people that love that person. This way, the conversation is coming from a positive place and will hopefully, help them on their road to recovery.