How Do You Talk To Someone About Their Drug Addiction
If you have a loved one dealing with an addiction, you may feel worried, sad, and even angry. These emotions are normal. The goal is to talk to them in a way that is productive rather than leads to conflict, blame, and shame. This can be very difficult when you are experiencing your own emotions about their substance use.
Here are some tips for talking to a person about their addiction:
Find a quiet and private place to talk. Avoid public settings.
Keep your statements short and direct. Avoid lengthy explanations. Just give one or two examples of your concerns, rather than several.
Avoid blaming and shaming your loved one. Be clear that it is the addiction that is causing the problem, not them as a person.
Listen to their views and experiences and validate their feelings. A simple statement like That sounds very difficult can go a long way.
Offer to help them find treatment or support groups. If they resist, explain that you respect their decision and are there to help if they change their mind.
What If The Person Doesnt Want Help For Drugs Or Alcohol
Ultimately, its the persons decision whether to seek professional help. Many people who misuse drugs or alcohol find it hard to ask for help at first, but may want to reach out later on. Be careful not to nag the person, since this might discourage them from opening up in the future.
Clearly state any behaviours you expect, or wont tolerate, from the person. You might not accept drug use in your home, for example.
Encourage the person to use safely to minimise the risk of harming themselves for example, through needle and syringe programs or opioid replacement programs.
Find an NSP in your state or territory here. You can also use the healthdirect Service Finder to find one near you. Select By name and type needle into the search bar.
Its important to know that you cant force the person to stop using drugs or alcohol. Only they can choose to change.
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Take Advantage Of A Time When You Are Both Clear
Theres never a perfect time to have a difficult conversation, but some times are better than others. Waiting for a moment when your loved one is sober and both of you are calm can make a real difference in how the conversation goes. If you find yourself in a day or a moment when things are going well, take advantage of it and bring up your concerns.
Many people shy away from this because they dont want to ruin the good experience. Remember that unless your loved one gets help, your happy times will only ever be short and rare. Your goal is to have more of these moments. Say something to express your feelings, such as, Im really enjoying this time with you. I wish we had more days like this.
Find Support For Your Addiction Recovery
Dont try to go it alonereach out for support. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having positive influences and a solid support system is essential. The more people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, the better your chances for recovery.
Lean on close friends and family. Having the support of friends and family members is an invaluable asset in recovery. If youre reluctant to turn to your loved ones because youve let them down before, consider going to relationship counseling or family therapy.
Build a sober social network.If your previous social life revolved around drugs, you may need to make some new connections. Its important to have sober friends who will support your recovery. Try taking a class, joining a church or a civic group, volunteering, or attending events in your community.
Consider moving into a sober living home. Sober living homes provide a safe, supportive place to live while youre recovering from drug addiction. They are a good option if you dont have a stable home or a drug-free living environment.
Make meetings a priority. Join a 12-step recovery support group, such as Narcotics Anonymous , and attend meetings regularly. Spending time with people who understand exactly what youre going through can be very healing. You can also benefit from the shared experiences of the group members and learn what others have done to stay sober.
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Start Encouraging Rehab Drug Treatment
Your family needs to address the importance of drug treatment. You may turn to a facility, like Peace Valley Recovery, to discuss an intervention or treatment program that could help your loved one. When the time is right, talking to your loved one about how their drug dependence has affected your lives will encourage them to take the right step toward rehab treatment.
How Have Drugs Changed Your Behavior
Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior. Addiction may cause negative behaviors, including:
- An inability to stop
- Using increasingly larger substance amounts
- Taking more of the substance than you intended
- Withdrawal symptoms
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Can I Section Someone For Drug Or Alcohol Use
Doctors cannot section someone just because they are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
But if someone who takes drugs or alcohol also has mental health problems, doctors may be able to section them. This is usually only for a mental health emergency, for example if their safety is at risk.
If you are someone’s nearest relative, you may be able to ask for them to have a mental health assessment.
Our pages on sectioning have more information.
Sometimes itâs the people looking after others who need care and understanding themselves.
How To Help A Loved One Struggling With Addiction
The best ways to help a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol may seem counterintuitive, especially for people who struggle with codependent relationships. Some of these methods may seem harsh, but they come from a loving approach with the ultimate goal to help the person overcome their addiction and to help all parties heal. Basic steps are outlined below.
- Remember that addiction is not a choice or a moral failing it is a disease of the brain
- Addiction is ultimately a condition that the individual must learn to manage no one can take the fight on for the addict.
- Set boundaries and stand by them.
- Encourage the individual to seek help this may include finding treatment resources for them.
- Find a therapist who specializes in addiction counseling and get help. Loved ones of addicts need support too.
- Set an example for healthy living by giving up recreational drug and alcohol use.
- Be supportive, but do not cover for problems created by substance abuse. The person struggling needs to deal with the consequences of their addiction.
- Be optimistic. A person struggling with drug or alcohol abuse will likely eventually seek help due to ongoing encouragement to do so. If they relapse, it is not a sign of failure relapse is often part of the overall recovery process.
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How You Can Help Someone Who Is In Recovery
Family involvement is just one of the ways in which you can help your loved one when theyre in treatment. It allows counselors and doctors to get a better understanding of the patient as well as their behavioral patterns and habits. Other ways in which you can help your loved one include:
- Getting involved: Attend family therapy and express your feelings. This will allow them to get a better idea of how their addiction affects everyone around them. Its also a great way to show that you support your loved ones Recovery because you are willing to invest the time and effort to help them heal.
- Communicating with them: Once the blackout period is lifted, you will likely be allowed some contact with your loved ones. Communication can be very difficult, and a seemingly safe conversation can spiral into a heated argument. Find a mode of communication that works for both of you, be it phone calls, emails or in-person visits. Use it as an opportunity to verbalize your support.
- Offering support: Saying youre there for your loved one is one thing, but support goes beyond that. Talk positively about the future and of your loved ones progress. Let them know theyre not alone.
- Trusting but being mindful: Its important to maintain trust throughout the Recovery process, but its also important to remember not to fall into old habits. Show your loved one that you trust them, but be aware of old behaviors that may be problematic or harmful.
Establish Boundaries And Stick To Them
Once you have decided that you are no longer going to take part in your loved ones drug addiction that you are no longer going to enable them because you love them, yourself, and your family too much then you have to set boundaries.
Coming to that point is probably one of the hardest things to do. Enforcing those boundaries is just as hard. First, make sure your boundaries are realistic. Are you serious about them? Are you really willing to follow through on any boundaries you set?
Next, knowing why you are settings boundaries is also important. If the boundary is set in place to protect you and your family, that is a healthier motive than using the boundary to try and control or change the behavior of the addicted family member.
Whatever boundary you set, know that your loved one may react to these boundaries in different ways, and it can be very emotional to stick to your guns.
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What Is An Alcohol Intervention
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Have You Thought About Getting Help
Many addicts have probably thought about getting help, either from the people who care about them or professionals, but something holds them back. Ask your loved one if they have thought about getting help and about any fears they might have. Drug addiction comes with a stigma. An addicts fear of judgment may stop them from asking for help. They may also worry about the cost and the chance of failure. It could be that they dont know where to start asking for help. Perhaps, one of their biggest fears is being unable to picture a life after drugs.
Ask your loved one to describe any fears. Think about what you can do to allay those fears and get your family member or friend on the path to sobriety. With your unwavering support, you can help your loved one find affordable treatment. Assure the person you care about that you do not judge. Youll be there before, during and after treatment.
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Educate Yourself About Addiction
You see what you know. Until you have knowledge about addiction and the symptoms of drug abuse, its easy to miss the signs that are right in front of you.
Addiction is complex, and its okay if you dont know everything right away. However, taking the time to understand your loved ones disease and how it affects them is incredibly beneficial to both you and your loved one. It also helps you be more aware of the signs that your loved one needs help.
How Can Addiction Be Successfully Treated
Addiction is a chronic disease that causes significant changes in the way the brain functions and how a person behaves. It is characterized by the compulsive misuse of a substance, even though it brings about significant negative consequences. Addiction can be treated and managed successfully through evidence-based behavioral therapies and, in some cases, medication.4 Some rehab centers use alternative therapies in treating addiction.
Addiction develops after a person uses or misuses substances and then loses their ability to control their use, negatively affecting their home, work, school and/or family life.4 This loss of control is often fueled by the way the body adapts to regular exposure to a substance: tolerance and physical dependence.
Tolerance is characterized by the need to take more of a drug to keep feeling the desired effects.5 As an individual exposes their body to regular use of certain drugs, the body adapts to its constant presence. When the drug is taken away withdrawal symptoms emerge as the body re-adjusts to not having the drug anymore. This can lead to strong cravings for the substance to relieve uncomfortable or distressing withdrawal symptoms, and may result in an individual struggling to quit using and relapsing or returning to substance use.
Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction focuses on management of the disorder, much like the process of managing other chronic diseases, including asthma or heart disease.6
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Dont: Expect Immediate Change
How do you help an alcoholic? One of the best ways is to be realistic in your expectations. Long-term Recovery is not a quick fix. Its an ongoing process for your loved one that takes time, effort and continued support from professionals and family alike. Some treatments may work for some time and then need to be changed.
If one treatment doesnt work, it doesnt mean all treatments will fail. It just means youll have to find the specific one that will work for your loved one.
Whats The Difference Between Substance Use/misuse And Substance Use Disorder
Substance use/misuse refers to occasional episodes of substance use rather than chronic, habitual or patterned use.
People can use substances occasionally without developing SUD, but even a few episodes of taking certain substances can lead to tolerance and dependence. Tobacco, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, cannabis and benzodiazepines are all substances that you can develop tolerance and dependence to.
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Resist The Impulse To Run
The best and healthiest way to cope with your problems is by facing them.
Bring your problems out in the open, admit them to yourself and reach out to your support network who can help you sort them out.
Remind yourself that you dont have to be perfect.
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Recognising The Signs Of Addiction
If you suspect someone is struggling with drug addiction, you may notice them:
- Taking the drug very often
- Being unable to stop or take less of the drug
- Hiding their drug use from others
- Lie about how much they take
- Taking the drug even if it causes them harm
- Taking the drug when they are alone
- Taking extreme measures to obtain more of the drug
- Doing less of the things they once enjoyed so they can take more of the drug
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How To Break An Addiction: A Guide To Overcoming Addiction
If you are struggling with addiction, its crucial to remember that addiction to drugs or alcohol is not a character flaw, a weakness, or a moral failing substance use disorders are chronic mental health conditions characterized by an inability to control your drug or alcohol use. While the decision to first use drugs or alcohol is often voluntary, repeated problematic use may be accompanied by brain changes that ultimately make it very difficult for some people to quit using the substance. Fighting addiction is not a matter of willpower or desire its a matter of recognizing a problem and seeking help.1
Just as every person is unique, the manner in which you go about recovering from addiction must be unique and tailored to your specific needs to be optimally effective. If you want to know how to heal from substance abuse issues, and co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, you should understand that it may take time and persistence to recover, but recovery is well worth the effort. Taking back control of your life and starting the path to recovery is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing. If youve chosen to recover from substance abuse issues, weve prepared various methods and tips to assist you in your decision.
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How To Raise The Subject
People often worry that initiating a discussion with the person with the problem will lead him or her to take drastic steps. They might make a scene in front of other family members, move out of the house, drop out of school, use more excessively, try to hide their problem, or retaliate against them or other family members. However, you might find the conversation to be a wonderfully productive experience. Perhaps the person simply hasnt noticed behavioral changes or doesnt realize that his or her substance use was or is causing a problem. And without change, the problems may become so severe that the same drastic outcomes could result.
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