When you have a friend or loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you know that it’s super challenging to try to talk to that person about their addiction. When you try them confront about the problem you run into all kinds of defenses. Addicts are great at avoiding the issue – they will do almost anything to be able to maintain their addiction and especially to avoid treatment of any kind. They use a number of techniques that are attempts to avoid a direct discussion of the real issue – their addiction and the resulting consequences for themself and those around them. You will probably encounter avoidance, anger, guilt, aggression and almost anything you can imagine. Therefore, talking to an addict about their addiction requires patience, good planning, honesty and sometimes the assistance of an addiction professional. If you need to confront your loved one about his addiction, here are few things you might say that can help to break through the defensive wall they have constructed:
“I need to tell you how I really feel.”
Be honest about your emotions and the pain he or she has caused you. Most of the time addicts don’t realize just how much their actions impact those around them. Tell your friend or loved one in a simple and direct way how his or her actions make you feel. As a friend or loved ones of the addict we want to act stronger than we feel. Trying to protect him from the pain he is causing you is helping no one. Be calm when you tell him and maintain empathy, but don’t hold back. We are often afraid of pushing the person further away through criticism, but this can have the effect of enabling their addiction.
“What can I do to help you?”
You may get a nasty or sarcastic response to this question. They may turn it around and try to ask for money or further support to help maintain or enable their addiction. But you need to be firm. Let them know you will not provide any more money or any other support that will enable their addiction. So the reason you may want to ask this question is because sometimes the person is ready for help but doesn’t know where to turn. You want to make it clear that you are talking about help for their addiction, like helping them get into an addiction treatment program. In any event, you can let them know that you care about them, you know they have a serious problem, and you are willing to help. Even if you don’t get the intended result this time, you may have planted a seed that they will remember when they are ready for help.
“I miss the time we spent together. How can we start hanging out again?”
If contact has been broken or disrupted due to their addiction, you may want to try to re-establish contact before you attempt to bring up their addiction. Perhaps you and your friend used to drink together, and while it didn’t become a problem for you, you want to continue the friendship and also show your support. Think of new activities to share to replace the drinking or using. You could say something like, ‘I would love it if we could spend some time together on a regular basis, like see a movie or have coffee.’ Certain times of the day, like evenings around happy hour, are usually especially difficult for an addict or alcoholic. If you suggest an outing at those times it may be helpful to compete with the urge to drink or use drugs.
“If you don’t have a problem why did _______ happen?”
Addicts and alcoholics are almost always in denial. Instead of asking general questions about why they use drugs or alcohol, or why you believe their life is not working, focus on specifics. Focusing on specific events makes it harder for them to use general excuses. It may be easy to deny or rationalize one specific instance of trouble, and even though they will probably try to do this, you can then just ask the question again, having a series of events ready to bring up. So focusing on specifics, especially if you can bring up several serious events in a row, may get them to see their life is becoming unmanageable.
“I love you but I can’t do this anymore.”
Sometimes it’s ok, and even necessary, to take a break in a relationship. They may be using you, and walking away for a while might open their eyes. It also may be essential for you to maintain your mental health. Ruining your health worrying about the addict constantly does no good for anyone. We often enable the addiction of those we love without even knowing we are doing so. Withdrawing support will sometimes force the person to evaluate their situation, and come to a realization that help is necessary.
When Addiction Treatment is Necessary
You’re trying to get the person to see that the drugs or alcohol are creating a worse problem than the benefit they seem to provide. You want the person to realize that life would be better if he could get clean and sober, and stay that way. You want him or her to be willing to just take a look at the possibility of a life without alcohol or drugs. If you can get them to achieve this perspective, you want to immediately get him or her in contact with a professional addiction treatment center. The intake advisor will know exactly what questions to ask, what to say, and what not to say. It’s best to have chosen the addiction treatment center and have a professional advisor ready to go before you start your talk with your addicted friend or loved one. Then you can get this professional on the phone with them right away, while the time is right. Realize that you only have a short window of time before the person begins to focus on their next drink or fix. You need to be ready to move quickly when this window of opportunity presents itself – unfortunately it may not happen again. Please contact Oceanfront Recovery today to discuss detox and treatment options for your friend or loved one. One of our professional and compassionate intake advisors will speak with you at 877-279-1777 today to get help for your friend or loved one.