Telling a Loved One They Need Addiction Treatment
09/27/19: Addiction \ Alcohol Addiction \ Drug AddictionTelling a loved one they need to make a change in their life is never easy. Most of the time, the problem they face still exists because they are in denial or are not ready to change their habits. In this case, it can be extremely difficult to change their minds. But it is possible to have a productive conversation with your friend or family member about how addiction impacts their (and your) life. However, a lot of care and delicacy needs to be employed when discussing this topic with someone you love. We’ve put together this guide to help you plan and execute an intervention with your loved one while avoiding conflict and anger.
Signs someone close to you is suffering from addictionBefore you confront the person with the suspected substance abuse problem, you want to make sure that you have solid grounds for believing that they are at risk of causing harm to themselves and others. The truth is, the person may just be going through a rough time, not necessarily abusing substances. Here are some things to look out for:
- They start to isolate themselves.
- They experience mood swings.
- Valuables begin disappearing from around the home.
- Rapid weight changes.
- Changes in energy levels.
- Changes in sleeping patterns.
- Disinterest in hobbies and passions that once excited them.
- Shirking responsibilities.
- Changes in mannerisms.
- Overall change in behavior and attitude.
How to start the conversationHaving this kind of conversation with someone you are close to can be unimaginably difficult. You love this person, and you don’t want them to feel attacked or hurt in any way. You also don’t want to damage the relationship. So how can you approach the topic in a non-threatening, effective manner? First, don’t go in with lofty expectations. Simply expressing concern one time is rarely enough to convince a person to willingly enter treatment. It’s more likely that the person will go into defense mode, and may even raise their voice and express anger. They may even adamantly deny that they have a problem, which can be a major roadblock. This is why your focus should be to first check-in and see how they are doing, opening the floor to deeper communication without coming off as accusatory. Start Your Recovery suggests opening the conversation in these ways:
- I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
- I’ve noticed you’ve been acting differently lately, and I’m wondering how you’re doing.
- I’ve been worried about you lately.
- I’ve noticed you’ve been drinking a lot lately, and I’m wondering how you’re doing.
- I’ve noticed you’ve been using [insert drug name], and I’m worried about you.
Continuing the conversationDepending on the person’s reactions to your opening lines, you may wish to probe a little further to get to the root of the issue. However, remember to continue keeping the conversation open and non-accusatory. Do not prescribe any thoughts or feelings onto the other person, simply try to ask questions, reflect, and show sympathy. Start Your Recovery suggests these ways of continuing the conversation:
- When did you first start feeling like this?
- Do you feel like you’re trying to escape or forget something?
- Do you feel like your drug use/drinking is a problem?
- Do you think you could go 24 hours without using drugs/drinking? A week?
- What can I do to best support you right now?
- Have you thought about getting help?
We’ve talked about it, what now?Congratulations, you have taken a big step in helping your loved one recover from addiction, or whatever problem they may be faced with at that time in their life. By initiating a tough conversation, you’ve demonstrated to them just how much you care, even if they don’t realize it for some time. Encouraging a loved one to seek help may feel like a losing battle for a long time, but when they finally achieve sobriety, they will be glad that you were there for them every step of the way. The most important role you can play in this situation is to be a pair of ears and an open heart. They are going to need the support of those they love, regardless of where they are at in their recovery journey.
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