How to Have Difficult Conversations with a Loved One About Addiction?
Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease that is incredibly common, however, it boasts numerous issues that can occur with your mental and physical health combined. Oftentimes, people ruled by addiction do not appreciate that there is a problem. Denial is a common factor of addiction and can cause numerous issues at work, at home and in social situations.
Talking to a family member about addiction is an important first step. Alternatively, if this doesn’t feel right, your local GP surgery will be able to assess you and point you in the right direction.
There are numerous addiction treatment options today. Many of them can be undertaken discreetly, without having to inform your boss or your circle about your time in drug or alcohol rehab. We encourage having the support of your family and friends around you during your time at rehab. This is often the most successful route to take. If you are concerned about someone that is facing addiction, there are ways to broach the subject and stage a drug or alcohol intervention, if you feel this is needed.
Understanding Drug and Alcohol Addiction
In order to speak to a loved one about their addiction, you must first understand some of the complexities of the disease. Learning about the ways in which it affects them mentally and physically will help you speak to them with sensitivity and knowledge. You may be concerned that you will be met with hostility or denial, and this is more than possible. However, if you take time to speak using the correct terms and understanding their own fears and behavioural partners, then it will make this much easier.
Drug and alcohol addiction occurs when a person abuses an addictive substance and their body slowly becomes immune from its effects. This is when tolerance builds, and the body constantly craves more and more. When addiction is left untreated, it can lead to possible overdose and even death in some circumstances. Firstly, pinpointing the signs and symptoms of addiction will be helpful for you.
Some red flag symptoms to be aware of are:
- Lack of control over any substance or behaviour
- Anger, moodiness or irritability
- Issues sleeping (too little or too much)
- Family/friendship isolation or removal from society
- Problems at work (poor performance, bad time management, arguments)
- Financial issues (trying to fund your addiction somehow)
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- Lack of personal hygiene, withdrawal from daily tasks
- No motivation
- Digestive issues
Preparing for the Conversation
Broaching the conversation about addiction is not easy. Drug and alcohol addiction can make the affected person feel very nervous, agitated or fearful. It is important to emphasise that you are there to help and no matter what, you will be there to support them. Whilst this may feel counterproductive, it is important to know that they are not alone. What they are going through is often deep-rooted and will require an assessment and professional psychotherapies.
Preparing for the conversation is important. You should find the right place and time to speak to them and make points about their addiction and the behaviours that you find destructive or particularly worrying.
You should consider gathering information beforehand relating to help websites, rehab clinics, such as Ocean Recovery Centre and more. You should consider a relaxing setting, and think of what may work best. Where do they feel most comfortable? What time of day is best – considering the workload etc?
Approaching the Conversation About Addiction
In order to make the conversation easy with your loved one, it is important to look at the three stages that can assist you when you are creating a plan:
- Begin with an opening statement such as “I have been concerned lately about you” or “I want to let you know first that I am always here for you”
- Engage in an open discussion to find out what is troubling them and ask them how things are going and if they think that there are issues.
- Speak about their behaviour, talk about how this concerns you and how it is affecting both you and them, but don’t make the conversation about you.
- Be willing to openly discuss, calmly and rationally, keeping a low calm tone and offering ways in which to solve the issues.
It is important to create a safe and secure atmosphere. It is important to tell them that there are multiple addiction treatment options at an alcohol or drug rehab. Supporting a loved one with addiction is not easy, and thankfully there are places such as Ocean Recovery Centre that are dedicated to making this pathway easier. Communicating with someone facing addiction must be gentle.
Listen and Understand Addiction
Substance abuse support is a process. There may be many emotions connected to the way you feel. Language matters – therefore choose gentle words, be kind always and explain that you’re concerned that they may harm themselves.
They will most likely react one of two ways: they will feel angry and ambushed, despite your soft tone. Or they will be at a point to open up and admit that they need help. Either way, patience is key. Active listening is vital because it is likely that the person facing addiction may want to speak. Listen to their worries, listen to how they react and choose reassurance constantly.
Engaging in effective communication can be easy. You must consider:
- Avoid using offensive words like “junkie”, “loser” or “drug addict”
- Don’t tell them what to do, but rather offer guidance
- Don’t tell them to “go cold turkey” as this can be very dangerous
- Encourage talking, and that you are there to help
- Speak to them softly and simply, telling them that there is help available
- Ask them to speak about their worries to you and that you will not judge them
Discuss Rehab Treatment Options
There are different forms of treatment available, which include both public and private. The public sector offers free assistance such as AA meetings, however, this is not intensive and often has a low success rate. Alternatively, there are private rehab clinics that offer assistance and programmes that last for however long the care is needed.
At Ocean Recovery Centre, you can gain access to world-renowned treatment plans. These include psychotherapies and counselling sessions, including a designated aftercare plan.
For more information on these programmes and the assistance available to you, please feel free to call us today on: 01253 847 553.
John Gillen - Author - Last updated: February 15, 2024
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.
Download Our Brochure
For more information about the addiction services that Ocean Recovery offer, download our brochure.Download our brochure
Rehab In Northern England
Our Partnering Centres
Rehab in Scotland
Rehab in Greater London
Rehab in the Midlands