The idea of approaching a friend or family member about their addiction problem can be scary. You don’t want to ruin your relationship by bringing up something that is extremely difficult to discuss. However, it is important to have this conversation as soon as you can. It’s not helpful to your loved one to put it off or worry about how he or she will react.
Starting the Conversation
Your loved one may not be ready to hear what you have to say. He or she might even deny there is a problem and not want to accept your help. If it’s not done correctly the conversation can turn to anger, avoidance and depression. These tips can help set a good tone for your conversation by focusing on your own observations.
How to Begin
- I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t been yourself lately.
- I’ve noticed you are acting differently and I wondered if everything is okay.
- I’ve been worried about you.
- I’ve noticed you have been drinking/using and I’m worried about you.
Then Ask These Questions
- When did you first start feeling like this?
- Have you thought about getting help?
- Do you feel like the drinking/drug use is a problem?
- How can I support you?
Listen and Respond
- I want you to know you are not alone.
- I am here for you and want to help in any way I can.
- I may not understand how you feel but I want to help.
Your Loved One’s Perspective
Remember that the person you are talking to is not a bad person. They are suffering from a disease so it’s important not to blame them or criticize them.
Someone who is suffering from addiction may not be able to clearly communicate how they feel, but most want their friends and family to know three things:
- Your love alone cannot save them.
- They are not choosing drugs or alcohol over you.
- They may already want to quit but don’t know how.
Do’s and Dont’s
- Do: Keep calm. Remain as cool and calm as possible and don’t get sucked in to an argument.
- Don’t: Be judgmental. Reacting harshly will only make him or her shut down.
- Do: Talk about how their behavior makes you feel. Use “I” statements and be honest.
- Don’t: Talk when they are under the influence. Be patient and wait until they are completely sober.
Don’t Put it Off
This is not an easy task but it is necessary in order for your friend or family member to consider getting help. Addiction is a disease that cannot be ignored. With preparation you can start a conversation that can get them on a path to recovery. If you don’t feel comfortable tackling this conversation on your own, organizing an addiction intervention is another option to consider. Either way, when the person is ready to take the next step, find a facility that offers an individualized addiction treatment plan. Then, contact us to get started and get them to help they need.