Watching a loved one battle the disease of addiction can be heartbreaking. After years of seeing the long-term effects of substance abuse damage your relationship, you may finally want to speak up about it. However, it can be tricky to start this conversation if you don’t plan for it. Here are three tips for talking to a loved one about addiction.
1. Don’t Blame or Shame
When preparing to have a conversation about addiction, find a time when you and your loved one can be alone, away from any distractions. Start by explaining you are worried and gently ask them to hear you out. Avoid raising your voice or appearing angry. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements, and always be kind and compassionate. Mention specific examples of their behavior that have directly affected you.
If your loved one is open to having this initial discussion, the next step is to ask if they are willing to consider professional help. However, someone in the depths of addiction may shut down or become defensive when you suggest treatment, so if that happens, let it go for the moment.
2. Understand You Can’t Make Someone Else Change
While starting a conversation may provide the courage and inspiration necessary to ask for help, your loved one ultimately needs to take full responsibility for their recovery to succeed. Usually, the first step involves them overcoming denial and admitting they have a problem they can’t solve alone. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results from talking about addiction with your loved one. You may have planted a seed that will sprout when you least expect it.
3. Accept if Your Loved One Isn’t Ready for Help Yet
Denial is a leading characteristic of addiction. If you feel like you can’t get through the walls your loved one has built around them, do not take it personally. Ease off and let them know you’ll always be there to support them when they’re ready to seek professional help. If you don’t get the response you wanted right away, don’t give up. You could still save a life by starting the conversation and showing you’re willing to help.
Get the Help You Need
Armed with these three tips for talking to a loved one about addiction, you can be more prepared for this challenging conversation. However, this topic can be a touchy subject fraught with refusals, denial, and anger. If you feel like you can’t reach your loved one, no matter what you say, consider scheduling a remote consultation with one of our skilled interventionists. We can equip you with the tools you need to break through with someone who refuses to accept help.