Does My Adult Child Have A Drug Or Alcohol Problem
Are you concerned about your son or daughters drug abuse or drinking? Do you believe that he or she may might have a substance use disorder. Knowing how to support an addict adult child in healthy ways can be especially challenging for parents, as you want to help rather than hinder his or her recovery process. However, this problem is not an uncommon one, as addiction affects a significant number of Americans.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health , approximately 19.7 million people aged 12 or over reported having a substance use disorder. In recent years, there has been significant growth in opioid abuse, including heroin, fentanyl, and other prescription painkillers. Overdoses of the potentially deadly class of drugs have increased nearly fourfold since 1999, killing approximately 47,000 people in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control .
While substance use disorders do not discriminateaffecting individuals across generational, geographic, socio-economic and racial linesthere are a number of factors that can increase ones risk of addiction. Risk factors include:
- Mental health disorders
- Lack of parental supervision during childhood and adolescence
- History of addiction in the family
Approaching Someone With Addiction
If you’re dealing with someone with an addiction, know that he or she will do ANYTHING to get his or her drug of choice. If that means lying to you or manipulating you, we WILL DO IT. The drug is the goal and whatever it takes to reach this goal is fair-game for us. So what do you do?
1. Realize that whatever we say, we are trying to manipulate or intimidate you in order to feed our addiction.
2. Have a firm resolution not to give in to threats. If we “need” money for ‘rent’ then pay the bill directly, don’t give us the cash to pay it.
Recognizing these styles of communication is an important step to learning how to change our behavior to more effectively communicate our legitimate needs. It is also important to recognize how addicts manipulate communication to score drugs. Honesty and candor from both sides are key to effective communication and recovery from addiction. When we all communicate our needs and concerns in an assertive manner, we have a much better chance of working together towards a life free of addiction and toward recovery.
If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit ourdirectory of treatment centers or call to speak to a treatment specialist.
Pay Attention To Our Body Language
Notice where our eyes are:
- If were making eye contact – were engaged.
- If were staring at the floor – were ashamed.
- If were staring at the ceiling – were exasperated or pretending to be searching for an answer .
- If were staring into space, stop talking – Weve checked out.
Notice our body language:
What Can You Ask Your Addicted Loved One About Their Recovery From Drugs & Alcohol
One thing to remember is that you may not be able to have the same kind of conversations that you had when your loved one wasnt in rehab. Instead, when it comes to speaking to this person, make sure you remember to be sensitive and straightforward.
Comfortable Topics that are Trigger Free: One of the top suggestions for those wondering how to talk to a drug addict is to ask the recovering person what they feel comfortable about, and what topics they would rather avoid. Some people may feel better if they address their situation head-on, while others may prefer to talk about other things and just enjoy their time with family and friends.
During your loved ones recovery, Its a good idea to ask questions such as How are you feeling? and What do you need? The key is having honest and healthy conversations and letting loved ones know that they can come to you for support and guidance.
Its perfectly fine to ask for suggestions as to how you can best help. Be upfront about the fact that youre going to be there for the long run, and you will be by their side as they strive to get better. Its beneficial if you set up boundaries and expectations for communication and contact.
Providing Constructive Feedback: Other ideas to keep in mind is that you can ask for permission to provide feedback on the recovery process. Once you have the go-ahead, you can let your loved one know how proud you are of them and what differences youre noticing in their behavior and health.
The Importance Of Communication Skills In Recovery
Learning how to communicate more effectively in recovery will play a large role in your new healthy life. In fact, acquiring new communication skills is now an integral part of substance use treatment. Treatment programs now regularly include group sessions to teach individuals in early recovery new ways to express themselves.
But why are communication skills so central to a successful recovery outcome? In recovery, communicating honestly with your family members, a spouse, and close friends provides opportunities for personal growth. Effective communication allows you to share about your emotional state with others so they can offer their support. Bottom line is that being an effective communicator can act as an essential recovery tool.
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Communicating As A Person In Recovery
Between 40 and 60 percent of people in addiction treatment relapse within their first year, according to a study from JAMA. It is common, and yet its profoundly devastating when it happens. Many relapses are due to an inability reach out and get needed help as challenges, cravings, and mental health concerns build. Learning to communicate may help you avoid relapse.
There are several steps you can take to improve the way you communicate in addiction recovery.
Its Okay To Express All Emotions
In some situations, individuals dont want to communicate openly because they feel as though its wrong to express their emotions. Some think their loved ones will be upset or afraid if they talk about their addiction. Expressing anger, frustration and even overwhelming joy is important during recovery. When you allow yourself to feel those emotions again, you allow your mind to heal. Dont be discouraged if you cant communicate 100 percent clearly during these times either. Just let it all out.
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Tips For Recovery Communication Success
All of us are works in progress. While we may be introduced to an array of helpful recovery tools in the treatment setting, when you get out into the world you find it is harder to actually employ them. This means that until the new coping skills become habit the recovery journey will have some bumps in the road.
Being able to express yourself in an honest and open way through healthy communication techniques will take some time. Like any other skill, it takes practice and consistent application to make a real difference in the way you communicate. Consider these 3 tips for improving your communication skills in recovery:
My Anger Is Directed Toward The Disease
Theres a huge difference between anger thats directed toward your loved one and anger thats directed toward her disease. Once you can separate the two, it makes an impact. The person you love is still in there shes just being stifled by drugs.
Its okay to be angry with the addiction you can even hate the addiction but dont let those feelings rob you of the love you have for her.
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Staying Neutral And Not Engagingwords To Live By
Posted November 3, 2011
Obviously, there can be little or no communication if the alcoholic/addict is so entangled in their addiction that they can barely string two sentences together, but let’s look at some common banter your loved one might try to rope you into in order to engage you in a senseless round of dialogue. The alcoholic/addict doesn’t see this as anything other than keeping you an active participant in their life regardless of whether you have covered the same ground over and over. As the family member/friend, after a while we are exhausted and weary answering the same questions/concerns repeatedly with nothing being resolved.
Do the following comments sound familiar to you?
“I’m always letting you down.” “I guess I’m just a bad person.” “You don’t care about me, or you would do this or that.” “I can’t do anything right.” “You’ve always liked my sister better than me.” “You just want me to leave.” “I don’t know why you don’t trust me.” “I guess this is what you want, right?” “You have no respect for me.”And my favorite…. “You just don’t love me anymore.”
The family member/friend is usually trapped into defending and justifying with the following responses to any of the above:
“Of course not.” “Okay, what would you like me to do to show you that you’re wrong?” “No, I never said I wanted that” or “No, let me explain.” “That’s not what my intention was.” “Why would you think or say that?”
Support The Process Of Change
If you have a friend or loved one with an addiction, let them know you are willing to support them, for example, by coming with them to family or couples counseling. You can even help them take the first stepwhether it’s bringing them to a doctor’s appointment or a support group meeting.
They’ll likely feel encouraged by the fact that you are making changes in your own life to help them with their addiction.
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Effective Ways To Communicate Through Addiction
As humans, we crave social interaction with one another. Communication skills pave the way for meaningful conversations, telling funny jokes or relaying our heartaches.
Despite its importance, our ability to communicate is one of the first skills we lose once addiction becomes a factor. As addicts, we often feel isolated and ashamed, while our loved ones are left feeling confused and powerless to help. Talking to one another can be extremely difficult.
If we dont know how to properly communicate with one another, our conversations can quickly turn to anger, avoidance, depression or indifference.
One side of the conversation is made up of friends and family members who dont understand the powerful grip of addiction. They feel betrayed its as if they dont recognize us anymore. On the other side of that conversation, youll find us the chemically dependent. Were also frustrated and confused, but for completely different reasons.
If we dont know how to properly communicate with one another, our conversations can quickly turn to anger, avoidance, depression or indifference.
Its hard for addicts to verbalize our feelings. Drugs can smother our true emotions and, in many cases, that promise of avoidance is appealing. Instead of dealing with painful news or intense heartache, its often easier to escape reality by turning to mind-altering substances.
What Addicts In Recovery Really Need: Positive Attitudes & Support Group Guidance
Its absolutely essential to rely on positive thoughts and encouragement when talking to those who have faced drug addiction. Its crucial that loved ones know what to ask and what not to talk about because this knowledge will empower them to serve as the best possible support system. If you dont know how to talk to someone about their drug addiction, then you may find yourself at a loss for words or saying the wrong thing.
ABTRS understands your worry and wants to help you through this.
In order to succeed in sobriety and achieve a better, happier and healthier lifestyle, a recovering addict will need a lot of resources, not only at their rehabilitation center but also within their group of family and friends. This is especially true for those who are parents or in a romantic relationship.
Oftentimes, partners and spouses have to cope with intense feelings of worry, distrust, anxiety and anger while the recovering patients are more likely to be striving for happiness and hope. This means that family and friends need to work through their feelings before talking or visiting their loved one because they need a pathway for clear communication.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Substance Use Disorders
As the parent of an adult child, there are a number of behavioral and physical indicators your son or daughter may exhibit if they are dealing with a substance use disorder, be it full blown addiction or a lesser form. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following 4 warning signs and symptoms can help you identify whether your adult child may have an alcohol or drug problem.
1. Physical issues and changes to appearance
Substance use disorders can manifest in many ways, including through changes physically and to ones appearance, such as:
- Red eyes, pupils appear larger or smaller than usual
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Lack of proper grooming
- Unusual odors on breath, body, or clothing
2. Changes in behavior
Is your son or daughter behaving differently? Have you seen significant changes to his or her personality? Common behavioral indicators include:
- Secretive and suspicious behavior regarding where he or she is going
- Barring family or friends from entering his or her room
- Drastic changes in friendships or relationships with family members
- Lying about activities and whereabouts
- Mood swings and extreme irritability
- Extreme hyperactivity or lethargy
- Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
3. School and work problems
- Frequently missing school or work
- Drop in a work performance or grades
- Lack of interest in school, work or other activities
- Inability to maintain jobs
4. Money issues
The Importance Of Creating A Plan
Now that youve learned more about AUDs, you may be able to better understand what your coworker, friend, family member, or other loved one is experiencing. However, you might not be ready for the emotionally taxing part of your conversation. This is where making a plan and writing down your ideas can be helpful.
Writing down the main points you want to talk about can help you to formulate and remember your ideas during the conversation. Points you may want to consider when writing your conversation plan include:4
In addition to these considerations, there are some concrete actions you can take before and during confronting the person you know who is struggling with an AUD.
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Set The Ground Rules Firmly
A very important step in communicating with an individual in addiction is creating ground rules. You will not support their habits. You will not give them money or handle their responsibilities. Holding them accountable for their actions is important. Providing a way to receive treatment is also important.
Your goal here should be to work closely with them to recognize it is time for a change. A key way to do this is through consistency. Once they know what you can do and what your reactions will be to their actions, they can see where their opportunities in treatment are.
How To Talk To Someone About Their Drug Abuse
Starting a conversation with someone about their drug addiction is never easy, but its important you come from a place of compassion and understanding. Remember, no one sets out to become an addict. Drug abuse is often a misguided attempt to cope with painful issues or mental health problems. Stress tends to fuel addictive behavior, so criticizing, demeaning, or shaming them will only push your loved one away and may even encourage them to seek further comfort in substance abuse.
Discovering someone you love has a drug problem can generate feelings of shock, fear, and anger, especially if its your child or teen whos using. These strong emotions can make communicating with a drug user even more challenging. So, its important to choose a time when youre both calm, sober, and free of distractions to talk. Offer your help and support without being judgmental.
Dont delay. You dont have to wait for your loved one to hit rock bottomto get arrested, lose their job, suffer a medical emergency, or publicly humiliate themselvesto speak out. The earlier an addiction is treated, the better.
Express your concerns honestly. Emphasize that you care for the person and are worried about their well-being. Offer specific examples of your loved ones drug-related behavior that have made you concernedand be honest about your own feelings.
Staging an intervention
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Using Nonviolent Communication For Healthy Relationships In Recovery
In addition to how the addiction process impacts self-esteem and self-trust, substance abuse severely impacts trust in relationships.
Using Nonviolent Communication for healthy relationships in recovery means developing, restoring, or recovering a high quality of connection with the people who are important to us, especially when those relationships have been impacted by addiction.
Trust is like topsoil. It can erode quickly, and can take a long time to build back up.
Being clear within ourselves, being clear with others, and consistently acting from a place of high integrity these go a long way toward rebuilding trust.
Acting from a place of high integrity means doing what we say and saying what we do. Inner clarity supports this too because if I am clear within myself I am less likely to over-promise or agree to things that are not doable or which Im not actually willing to do.
Using Nonviolent Communication for healthy relationships in recovery and restoring trust also means that if I fall short of keeping a promise I can own it, empathize with others regarding the impact, go through a process of sincere mourning, give empathy to the part of me that fell short, and try again.
Much more than having a perfect track record, our humility and sincere efforts contribute greatly to rebuilding trust.Using Nonviolent Communication for healthy relationships in recovery involves at least three areas: