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How To Talk To An Addict

Support Recovery As An Ongoing Process


Once your loved one decides to enter treatment, its essential that you remain involved. Continue supporting their participation in ongoing care, meetings and participate in support groups for families of addicts. Be the support system that they need, and show them that youll be there every step of the way.

Creating A Friendly Relationship

The idea is to create a friendly relationship with the drug addict that is safe for them to talk to you. So the drug addict doesnt feel judged or evaluated or demeaned. You need to create trust, friendship and a relaxed atmosphere with the addict. At one point, the person will give a sign of not being happy or will show some sadness or frustration. It is what you want. Its what is ruining their life . Once the person recognizes this ruin and you can see they see it, remember this the drug addict knows that they cannot do anything about it. But you know differently, softly coax them into agreeing on maybe, possibly they can do something about it. Dont get over-excited about the person being agreeable to change. It can backfire at any time. A drug addict has a final defence built in by the drug or alcohol itself. The thought of withdrawal from drugs or alcohol is painful or unpleasant. Some drugs can have horrible withdrawal effects on the person.

Make It Clear That You Will Help When They Are Ready To Seek Treatment

Even if this is not the case immediately after confronting a loved one about their addiction, its important to express that your support is not going anywhere. They should know they have someone to turn to when they are ready to confront their problem and take action by seeking treatment and recovery. When someone is ready to undergo treatment, it is important that they have support and feel as if people care whether or not they recover. Knowing someone cares about their well-being may be a positive factor in their recovery.

Though not all of these suggestions will work in every situation, they are a good place to start if you are unsure how to help an addict in denial.

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Have You Noticed Any Changes In Behavior Or Personality

Youve asked yourself this question, but youll likely get a different perspective from the other people close to your loved one. If you are asking others about someone you live with, it is possible they havent seen the changes you do. Conversely, if you are asking about a family member or friend you do not see as often, others may have seen change you have not.

What Warning Signs Have I Seen

How to Talk to an Addicted Family Member

There may be one particular incident that pushes you toward talking to your loved one about addiction. However, there have probably been many other signs often subtle youve noticed along the way. Indications of addiction to look for in your family member or friend include:

  • Change in Appearance Is my normally well-dressed loved one neglecting their personal appearance?
  • Health Issues Is my loved one suffering from new health issues?
  • Altered Behavior Have I noticed major changes in how my loved one is acting?
  • Different Spending Habits Has my loved one asked me for money without giving a reason?
  • Issues at School or Work Does my loved one skip school or work frequently or have a dramatic change in performance?

You may not even know for sure that your loved one is using drugs, but these questions can help you determine if your spouse, family member or friend is using and trending toward addiction.

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Things To Say To Your Addicted Loved One

If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you know that it can be extremely difficult to talk to that person about their addiction. Addiction involves a number of defense mechanisms that serve to protect the addict and their addictive behavior.

Typically when you confront the person about their addiction you may encounter a variety of techniques they use to avoid focusing on the real issue, their addiction. These can include anger, rationalization, avoidance, guilt, aggression or anything else they can do that might prevent you from having a serious and productive conversation.

Talking to an addict about their addiction requires courage, patience, proper planning, good timing, and honesty. Keep in mind that addiction is a disease, and often treating the addiction will require the assistance of a professional. If someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, here are some suggestions that might help to at least start the conversation:

What Is Samhsas National Helpline

SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

Also visit the online treatment locators.

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How Can I Stop My Friend Taking Lots Of Drugs

You cant force your friend to do anything they dont want to do, but you still might be able to help.

Start by encouraging your friend to stay away from the places where theyd normally take drugs , and suggest other activities.

You can also remind your friend of the potential dangers involved in taking lots of drugs and tell them where they can get accurate information about what theyre using. Whatever happens, make sure your friend knows youre around and happy to talk that youre there to help and not judge.

Avoiding Topics That Cause Relapse: What Not To Ask Your Recovering Addict


You want to keep your conversations with a recovering loved one in a respectful, caring and productive light. That means there are some things you shouldnt say in order to maintain a good relationship and support, rather than hinder, their recovery journey.

Its not necessarily natural to know exactly how to talk to an addict, but if you want to be close to your loved one and continue to help them throughout their recovery, then youll need to watch what you say and focus on positivity, not negativity.

Avoid Details About Active Addiction: Rather than asking about the details of their drug addiction, ask questions about their other interests and passions. Its important to remember that drug or alcohol dependence doesnt make up an entire person, and theres much more to every individual than just addiction. Thats why, rather than asking them about where they got the drugs and who they did them with, you should bring up more promising areas such as sports they like, subjects they enjoy studying or pastimes they participate in. Addiction should not be what defines them as an individual, and you should be careful to ask questions and bring up topics that reflect such a belief.

Traumatic or Shocking Experiences: Another talking point to stay away from is your surprise or shock they suffer from addiction. Every newfound sober person is extremely susceptible to triggers, and hearing something like You dont look or seem like an addict, isnt helpful.

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When All Else Fails Dont Use Guilt

Its very easy to mix up the thought of an ultimatum, and lecturing or guilting an addicted individual into ceasing their vice usage. Under no circumstances should you attempt to guilt them into quitting their addiction. Phrases like How could you do this to me, or anything that will garner guilt and/or shame from the addict is a surefire no-go.

How To Talk To An Addict About Getting Help

Its important to know how to talk to an addict about getting help. Saying the wrong things can be discouraging and drive him or her deeper into their dependency and abuse. Your family member may try to borrow money or ask you to make excuses for his or her behavior. You can refuse these requests without making insulting comments. If you are asked for money, dont say No, your just a junkie. Instead of applying a label to your family member, you can say Because I care about you, I cant contribute to something that will harm you. Learning how to talk to an addict about getting help means you dont apply labels. Someone who is suffering with an addiction will not react well to being labeled. Some labels you definitely want to avoid include:

  • Stoner
  • Druggie

Applying labels like this to someone you care about gives the impression you think he or she is worthless and hopeless, when you really want them to recognize the fact their life is important to you. Explain that you understand addiction is a disease, and you are willing to do what you can to help them recover. You wont buy candy bars for a diabetic, and you wont give them money they will use for drugs. Both are disease that can destroy organs, the brain, and result in coma and death.

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How Can You Help A Loved One Get The Help They Need

Mention the word treatment in relation to substance use and many people think of long-term residential facilities or detox. In fact, treatment includes both of these options and a variety of others.

Treatment addresses the individuals physical, psychological, emotional, and social conditions. Sustained reduction in alcohol or other drug use and sustained increases in personal health and social function are the primary goals.

The type of treatment is based on the severity of the problem. For risky people with an active addiction, treatment can be as simple as a screening and a brief intervention. For people exhibiting signs of dependence or addiction, a screening will probably lead to a referral for more intense level of care.

All treatment starts with a screening, which is a series of questions about the amount and frequency of alcohol or other drug use and the consequences it may be causing. Screening can be done by many types of professionals, including a physician in a hospital or an office, a nurse, a clinical social worker, or a licensed substance abuse counselor.

To help someone you know who you think may have a substance use problem, you first need to get them screened. Your best bet is to talk to your own physician or employee assistance professional about referring you to someone who can help, such as a licensed substance abuse counselor or family therapist.

To find a treatment program, visit SAMHSAs Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.

How You Can Help Someone Who Is In Recovery

How To Talk To A Drug Addict

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.

Also Check: How Can I Help Someone Addicted To Drugs

What Does Denial In Addiction Look Like

Denial can be outright refusal to believe there is an issue. It can also be recognizing there may be a problem and their problems arent that bad. Comparisons to others who have lost more than they have is a common justification and manipulation to themselves and others. Many alcoholics feel they do not have a problem because they are still employed. An addict addicted to opiates may think they are justified because of legitimate physical pain and they arent junkies because the medication was prescribed by a doctor. A common denominator behavior in most alcoholics and addicts is the thought that every problem is somebody elses fault. Many are also in denial that they need professional help and believe they can fix any problem themselves. Below are a few examples of denial:

How To Talk To An Addict

Home » Addiction Recovery » How to Talk to an Addict

Sometimes the hardest thing a person will ever experience in their life is trying to gain their composure and lead a conversation with an addict they love- when inside they are falling apart, the back of their throat is burning with a desperate anger and their stomach is tied in knots from the constant waves of anxiety that bombard their peace.

How do you talk to an addict?

The most important and very first thing you should do is make sure you have a somewhat comprehensive understanding of addiction. You wouldnt walk into a boxing match hoping to win against Floyd Mayweather without some training- right? When you understand how an addicts brain works, when actively addicted to drugs, you are one step closer to reaching them.

Secondly, you MUST understand that they already hate themselves. I know, maybe they dont act like they do, perhaps they are a bit narcissistic or egotistical, but I promise you they do. If you approach an addict with anger, hatred or condemnation- expect a complete and total shutdown of the conversation at hand. This only triggers their best defense deflection. If you confront their actions with anger, hatred or condemnation, their addiction instantly wants to protect itself by hiding the addicts character flaws and defects. Not to mention, the addict must protect their crumbling sense of self-worth that isnt necessarily there to begin with.

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The Universality Of Denial

Denial is universal. Everyone alters reality somewhat by perceiving events in accordance with our personal biases, says Darlene Lancer, a marriage and family therapist. Denial helps us cope with a potential threat or uncomfortable facts and feelings. We also deny reality when the truth would put us in conflict with someone else or ourselves. Indeed, denial can at times be an important strategy to keep us from crumbling under the weight of reality, particularly when dealing with situations we cant control.

Denying addiction is simply another articulation of the denial everyone experiences all the time people struggling with addiction rationalize, minimize, repress, self-deceive, and selectively forget in order to avoid confronting the unbearable reality of their own substance use disorder. This process may be conscious, unconscious, or often both, particularly as substance use itself diminishes their aptitude for accurate self-perception. The deep stigma attached to addiction and its possible consequences can make denial particularly appealing since admitting addiction, either to themselves or others, comes with a host of painful implications, whether true or not. If I am an addict, I am a bad person. If I am an addict, I do not have control over my life. If I am an addict, I will cause my loved ones pain. If I am an addict, I have to go to treatment, cut off my friends, and give up the substance that is helping me cope.

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What To Know About How To Confront A Drug Addict

Talking With An Alcoholic Or Addict About Getting Help

When youre confronting someone about drug use, they may see what youre saying as a criticism or an unnecessary concern, and they may lash out at you.

While learning how to confront a family member on drugs or another loved one is difficult, its also necessary.

The following are some specific things to keep in mind when youre confronting someone about drug use and addiction:

Other tips for how to confront a drug addict include:

  • Try to listen to the addict as well as talking about your feelings. Sometimes when people are confronting an addict, they think they have to do all of the talking, but it can be helpful also to listen. This will allow the addict to feel like they can trust and confide in you.
  • Try to be consistent when youre learning how to confront an addict. You will probably find yourself confronting an addict over and over again until they finally accept treatment, and when doing so, you want your message and delivery always to be the same.
  • Set boundaries and define consequences. The key phrase to keep in mind when learning how to confront an addict is often tough love. This means that when youre confronting someone about drug use or learning how to confront someone about drug use, you keep in mind unconditional love, with strict boundaries at the same time.

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Do You Know The People Who Care About You Have Noticed You Are Struggling

It is important not to make this conversation about yourself. Watching your loved one struggle with addiction is, of course, very hard for you, but youll want to have a frank conversation with your loved one without making yourself the center attention. Instead of focusing on yourself, talk about how you and other people who care have noticed changes in their behavior and appearance. Ask if your loved one realizes their struggle with addiction is changing how others look at them. Avoid an accusatory tone. Simply explain that you and others are concerned.

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