The social cost of drug and alcohol addiction is felt by everyone around the one who’s addicted. Even if we never experience addiction ourselves, many of us will at some point see it first-hand in a family member, friend, or partner. In these situations, we can be thrust into the situation of needing to mediate the subject with our loved one. This is a hard place to be in, since most of us are not experts in drug and alcohol counselling. Here are some ways to broach the topic, in order to make it easier for you to get your loved one the help they need.
Be consistent and predictable
Addiction, like any mental illness, interferes with the sufferer’s ability to think clearly and consistently. That means you need to provide stability and consistency in the way you approach your conversations with your loved one. Most importantly, this means keeping the same tone and saying the same things through the whole process – if you are kind and compassionate one day, and snap at them the next, they will find it hard to trust you and engage with you honestly about their addiction.
Talk to them in a pressure-free environment
Your loved one is only going to open up about their addiction if they feel comfortable and secure. When you start a conversation about their behaviour, it’s best to be in a one-on-one situation, free from distractions and somewhere safe and quiet. Staging an intervention should be avoided if at all possible. Putting that much pressure on someone is not likely to end well, and will often result in them feeling extremely uncomfortable and closing up.
Listen with compassion
After you tell them you’re worried about their addictive behaviour, the next step is to ask your loved one a question: “how do you feel about this?” Someone suffering from addiction is much more likely to open up and be honest with you – and with themselves – when they feel listened to and respected. Adopting an accusative tone, interrupting them and telling them what to do are all sure-fire ways to get them to close up and wall you off. It can be difficult, but you must listen attentively and above all, remain compassionate, remembering that they are a victim of their addiction.
Work with them on their terms
All burdens are easier to bear when they are shared. The best thing you can say to your loved one is that you are willing to help them with their problem. The first step is to understand what the best way to help them is, whether it’s going to a rehab service, helping them to physically avoid their drugs or alcohol, or simply spending more time with them and continuing to have an open dialogue. Then, engage with that decision and help them. Actions can speak a lot louder than words when your loved one has an addiction, so it’s important to show them you are really committed to helping them get better.
Can’t manage all of this on your own?
Even when you have the best intentions in the world, an addict’s own networks aren’t always enough to help them fight off their addiction. Fortunately, you can suggest to them that they try a rehab service. Many people are hesitant to try rehab – it can be a one-size-fits-all system, where people slip through the cracks. It doesn’t have to be that way – at Zen Detox, we offer a different kind of rehab service, one where patients are looked after holistically, with an approach that is individually tailored to our clients’ needs. To find out more, contact us – it could be the first step to recovery for your loved one.