Most people will feel undereducated or will worry about helping a loved one through addiction. Understandably it’s a difficult commitment to make and work through. It will likely be new to you, causing anxieties about what to do and not to do whilst supporting them. It can feel rewarding yet can also feel like you’re walking on eggshells.

The best starting point will be to approach the topic of addiction. A simple conversation can help you gauge their needs, can share your concerns, and can show your commitment to them. Yet no conversation about personal, sensitive, and vulnerable symptoms and experiences will be easy. Addiction is a taboo subject, known as a challenging talking point for both addicts and their loved ones.

Yet to help your loved one, you’ll need to break through the barriers, step outside of your comfort zone and prepare for the tough yet impactful conversations.

Knowing how to start a conversation on addiction is one of the first obstacles. It’s important that you work to get this right, as your approach can set the tone for follow-on conversations and decisions. Here are some pointers, to educate and prepare yourself, along with the type of support you can access here at Ocean Recovery.

It’s time to be mindful of your communication style, your approach, and your intentions. Your input could change the direction of a conversation, manoeuvring through the addiction recovery process.


Helping a loved one through addiction

The reality of helping a loved one through any form of health concern or condition is hard. Feeling undereducated, helpless, inexperienced, overwhelmed, and frustrated are all emotions linked to the process. Helping someone through addiction can be even harder, as it’s a misunderstood disorder.

Addiction is treated as a taboo. Getting deep into the cause and consequences of addiction is off-limits for many people. It’s an uncomfortable process to consider.

Yet in order to help a loved one, you must get uncomfortable, must be open to the frank reality of addiction, and must be mindful of their feelings.

You may in fact be ready to dive in, where offering support is an unquestionable act for you. Yet before diving in, head first, it’s essential to be prepared with the facts, with the realism of addiction recovery and with some supportive resources to increase acceptance.

Here’s how to start a conversation on addiction, offering a strong start to your commitment. Helping a loved one will be tough yet also fulfilling, with the potential to change the narrative of their future. Start with a compassionate, supportive, and mindful conversation.


How to start a conversation on addiction

Your approach, intentions, narrative and expectations should all be gauged prior to reaching out. Here’s how by preparing for a conversation on addiction.


  • Be educated and aware 

Knowledge and awareness will be extremely helpful when aiming to understand addiction. It’s essential that you are fully aware of addiction as a condition, its cause, its unpredictability and its treatability.

With awareness, you’ll have the facts and some form of insight, ready to talk about addiction.


  • Find the right approach 

Finding the right approach for your relationship and personality types will be encouraged. To start a conversation on addiction can be awkward and uncomfortable. Following your existing relationship and communication style will be recommended. Yet your approach should always be compassionate, supportive, and patient.


  • Mindful communication  

In the midst of a conversation on addiction, things can easily escalate. You should keep a cool head, keep the conversation as understanding and empathetic, and aim for an open communication style.

You’ll need to be fully mindful of how your words and reactions play out, and how they can either help or hinder your loved one. Practising your approach will be recommended to increase your mindfulness.


  • Place realistic expectations 

You must be patient, you must be realistic, and you must be prepared for pushbacks. You should expect different outcomes from your conversation, as the process can pan out differently for every family. Your loved one may be accepted, they may struggle to open up, they may be in denial, they may hope to go it alone.

You should persevere, you should prepare yourself mentally for the journey, and you should be realistic throughout your conversation on addiction.


  • Be compassionate and kind  

An addiction can be very tough to live with. Addicts are either harmful to themselves or experience hate from others. This is your moment to be compassionate and kind, to offer the support that they will likely need, and to help them through their pain.

Sensitive, kind, empathetic and understanding language should be used throughout your conversation.


  • Be a listening ear 

A conversation on addiction should be a two-way process. Whilst you’ll want to share your concerns, you should also be prepared to listen. Your loved one may open up, unexpectedly, entrusting you with their struggles. You will need to be prepared to listen, rather than give your opinion.


  • Set boundaries from the start  

Knowing how to start a conversation on addiction is tough as it’s a new area for most. As it is an unfamiliar process, you’ll need to set yourself some boundaries. In the attempt to maintain your relationship, whilst also protecting yourself and their wellbeing, you’ll need to set personal boundaries on the type and level of support that you can offer.

You must think about yourself, your mental health and your capacity to help, whilst also prioritising their needs through addiction recovery.


  • Follow their pace 

An initial conversation on addiction can take some time to begin and develop. You should follow their pace, making sure that your loved one is comfortable about sharing their experiences, wants and emotions. Yet you must also try to motivate interaction as much as possible to make sure that progress can be made.

Addiction is a time-sensitive condition. A productive approach will be best, yet whilst protecting comfort and involvement.


  • Consider family therapy 

Family therapy is a great way to understand and open up about addiction. Whilst you’ll want to start the conversation, prior to your therapy session, professional, unbiased input can progress relationships, trust and understanding. This is a strong option if you are struggling to facilitate the right type of conversation.


  • Build a trustworthy relationship 

Your relationship should be trustworthy. You’ll want to strengthen your connection throughout the process, display honesty, good intentions, and full commitment.

Whilst conversations on addiction are important, you’ll want to build on your relationship outside of the topic.


  • Share treatment options  

A conversation is a great place to share treatment options and inspire commitment, rather than recommending or following a bossy approach. Pressure should be low at this point. Although your end goal will be to convince your loved one to complete treatment, you will need to take some baby steps.


Support for families at Ocean Recovery

An addiction can be an extremely difficult condition for families to witness. Many relationships suffer through the battle, which can worsen the condition itself.

At Ocean Recovery, we’re here to offer full support, for both addicts and their support network.

We can offer full education on addiction. We can provide guidance on how to strengthen relationships. We can direct you through a conversation on addiction. We can also provide assistance through a referral process and even an intervention.

Support is available to help you heal, forgive, and prepare for recovery, whilst also benefiting your loved one. Treatments, such as family therapy are also available through rehabilitation, to recover the family unit.


Complete a family and friend referral

If you are struggling, you can complete a family and friend referral with our help. Alternatively, you can reach out for more guidance on how to start a conversation on addiction. We’re armed with a range of resources and recommendations to open up the conversation and diminish the taboo of addiction.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: November 12, 2021

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.