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How To Talk To Someone With An Addiction

How To Talk To Someone About Their Drinking Or Drug Use


Talking is one of the most important ways you can help someone with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

It can help both of you understand what theyre going through, and encourage them to take positive steps towards being safer and healthier.

Having these conversations isnt always easy, so weve put together some tips and advice to help you.

Make Sure That You Are Coming From A Place Of Love

A sure way to shut someone off is to come at them in an accusatory manner. Trying to guilt and shame a person into seeing that they have a problem will not make them very receptive to anything you have to say. Starting off by letting the person know you care about them and are concerned by some of their behavior is oftentimes the safest way to begin the conversation. Coming from a place of love is the best way to get someone to open up about whats going on.

Some Actions You Can Take:

  • Read about the signs and symptoms of substance use.
  • Observe the persons behavior closely over a period of days or weeks to understand what leads you to think there is a problem. This information will be good to have if you decide to talk with other family members about the situation, seek advice from a professional, or speak directly with the person. However, dont feel you need an exhaustive picture of the problem before.
  • Contact a substance use professional, mental health professional, physician, employee assistance professional, guidance counselor, clergy or other helping professional to help you. Describe your family members substance use pattern to see whether the professional would deem it a problem. Provide details such as: type of alcohol or other drugs, how much the person is using, how often they are using, how long the pattern has continued, negative consequences, and the persons response to discussions or confrontations about substance use.
  • Ensure that you and other family members are safe from potential physical or emotional harm. If there is a threat or possibility of physical violence, you should develop a safety plan.

Read Also: What Is The First Stage Of Addiction

How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction: 10 Ways To Support Them

June 02, 2020Addiction

When someone that you love is struggling with addiction, it can also feel like a struggle to find ways to help. The truth of the matter is that recovery from drug addiction is usually a long and complicated journey. With the support of a loved one, it can become that much easier to begin the journey and see it through to the end.

If you dont have much experience with drug or alcohol addiction, the whole situation can quickly feel overwhelming. Instead of ignoring the situation or backing away because of the overwhelm, take the time to encourage them to identify their problem and seek a solution.

Are you trying to navigate the complexities of addiction by being a support system for a loved one? There are certain things you can do to provide the most help. Some things should be avoided for the best chance of recovery.

Below, were sharing how to help a loved one with a substance use addiction and a few things to avoid while supporting someone through it.

How To Live With An Alcoholic

How to Talk to Someone About Addiction

Many families deal with the struggles of living with someone who excessively abuses alcohol or has an AUD. If you are currently living with someone with an AUD, there are ways to cope and treatment options for you and your loved one.

People who know how to live with an alcoholic may have feelings of self-blame. It is important to remind yourself that the alcoholic is responsible for how he or she handles emotions and recovery from a drinking problem. There could be many contributing factors to why people suffer from AUDs, but to blame yourself will not help the current circumstance.

Someone living with an alcoholic may also try to control their loved ones drinking, or enable them. The behavior of alcoholics while or after drinking may be very frustrating, but instead of monitoring their drinking behavior, attempting to remove their alcohol, forbidding them from drinking, or begging them to stop drinking, its best to just release control over their alcohol use. You did your part in trying to get them to ask for help, now its time for them to be willing to accept your help.

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Debunking Common Myths Involving Addiction

To better understand what addiction really is and where it comes from, its necessary to start by unlearning some of the more prevalent myths surrounding it. These stereotypes and myths can lead you to accidentally make inappropriate statements while talking with your loved one about substance abuse.

Lets debunk a few of these misconceptions below:

Drug Addiction: How To Talk To Someone Youre Worried About

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If someone is addicted to drugs, they may lose control of their drug use to the point where they cause harm to themselves or those around them.

It can be upsetting to know that someone you care about has a problem with drugs, and not know how to help them.

Whether theyre abusing drugs or alcohol, you can’t force that person to stop using if they dont want to, but you can encourage them to seek help.

In this article youll learn about the signs of addiction, how to talk to someone about their drug use, and how to support them while they are in treatment.

We also address the importance of looking after yourself while you are supporting someone who is abusing drugs.

Recommended Reading: How To Not Be Addicted

Take Action Alongside Them

Take some type of action yourself. This shows your loved one you are just as committed to improving the relationship and helping them through this difficult time. It sets a good example, strengthens bonds, and may help you at the same time. Depending on the type of action you take, you may learn more about addiction in the process and become a better advocate for your loved one.

What could that action look like?

  • Attending support groups or meetings, such as Al-Anon
  • Getting into your own therapy
  • Researching treatment programs for your loved one Even if they are not ready to change, it doesnt mean you cant start the process. Keep it private until they are ready. Feeling pressured into entering formal treatment may make them upset.

Discuss Concerns When They Are Under The Influence Or Their Emotions Are Running High


Nothing meaningful or helpful can be discussed when someone is under the influence or the people involved are upset. No one thinks clearly when theyre overwhelmed by their emotions. It can feel uncomfortable to hold onto what you want to say for a later time, but waiting for the right moment to discuss serious issues is important. Otherwise, you risk using harsh language that increases hurt and shame and lessens the chances theyll respond positively.

Also Check: Can You Get Disability For Addiction

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

Ways To Support Your Special Someone With Drug Addiction

For an addict, deciding to get help and kick the addiction is no easy feat. Luckily, studies have shown that with the additional love and support of someone close to the addict, their chances of recovery are much higher.

While each situation of addiction has its own unique sets of circumstances and factors at play, there are some general guidelines as to the best way to help someone and offer support.

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Keep A Positive Mindset

Its essential to try to seek the positives in the situation and celebrate the progress made. Changing addictive behavior is hard, just like making any significant change of habit. Yet its even harder than that because there are chemicals involved that interfere with their decision-making ability.

Even if they slip up, try to remain positive. Use supportive communication to explore what led to the slip-up, and then figure out how to avoid it in the future. You dont want your loved one to slide back, so encourage them to see how far theyve come already.

I Acknowledge Your Addiction

How To Talk To Someone With Addiction

Most addicts try to hide their disease and go to great lengths to cover their tracks. Once the resulting damage begins to pile up, however, hiding an addiction becomes next to impossible.

Let your loved one know that youre concerned for his wellbeing and you recognize the signs of addiction. This opens the door for honest discussion. It also lifts a weight off your shoulders by acknowledging the elephant in the room.

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Where Can They Seek Professional Support

Seeking help for a drug problem can be scary, especially if it is the first time. A person may worry that they will be judged for their drug use. They may also worry about what will happen to them if the drugs they have used are illegal.

Let them know that seeking help is a good thing and there are places they can go for confidential support. Our blog on seeking help for drug addiction has some useful contacts.

You could even offer to go to any appointments or meetings with them. This may be welcomed, especially if they are going for the first time.

Understanding Your Loved Ones Substance Abuse

People start using drugs for a lot of different reasons. Many turn to substances to cope with the emotional pain of a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Known as self-medicating, some people may be aware they have a mental health issue but are unable to find healthier ways of coping, while others remain undiagnosed and use drugs to manage specific symptoms.

Other people turn to drugs to change how they feel, to fit in, or to alleviate boredom or dissatisfaction with their lives. Then there are those whose substance abuse develops from a doctors well-intentioned efforts to treat a medical condition. Of all the people prescribed opioids to relieve pain, for example, estimates suggest that more than a quarter will end up misusing the drug.

Whatever your loved ones reason for starting, though, not everyone who uses drugs develops a problem. While the exact causes of addiction arent clear, genetics likely plays a role, along with environmental factors. While one person is able to use substances without detrimental effects, another finds even casual use quickly escalates into compulsion and addictiona very dark hole from which they can feel powerless to emerge.

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Having A Conversation About Alcohol Addiction Can Be Hard But There Are Ways To Do It Effectively

If your loved one is struggling with alcohol use, it can be challenging to figure out how to help them. By educating yourself on alcohol use disorders, considering different ways of how to talk to your loved one, and making a plan for your conversation, youll be better equipped to lend your support and get your loved one the help they need. Learn about the science behind addiction in this blog post to understand how addiction is a disease.

While some friends and family effectively look for treatment, many are hesitant to change and reluctant to have open conversations. Finding the courage and the right words to say can be tough, even if youre a family member.

But eventually, youre going to have to find a time to talk to them and voice your concerns.

Lets run through a few tips when it comes to talking to your loved one about alcohol addiction and recovery.

How To Set Boundariesand Stick To Them

How To Talk To Someone About Their Drug or Alcohol Problem (effectively!)
  • Talk to your loved one about boundaries at a time when youre both calm and not under the influence of drugs. Clearly outline what behavior you will and will not tolerate and what the consequences will be if they break your rules.
  • Follow through. Its almost inevitable that someone with an addiction will test any limits you set, so be prepared to follow through. If you dont enforce the consequences youve outlined, your loved one will know the boundaries are worthless and their destructive behavior will continue.
  • Remind yourself why youre doing this. No one wants to see someone they care about suffer, but a meaningful, respectful relationship cannot exist without boundaries. Having to face the negative consequences of their behavior could be the impetus your loved one needs to get clean.
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    Try To Help Them To See The Negative Ways That Substance Abuse Is Impacting Their Lives

    Use specific instances of times you have seen substance abuse have a negative impact on their lives. Whether it be getting a DUI, getting arrested, losing a job or a spouse, etc. Make sure to do this in a loving way that helps them realize how much better their lives could be without drugs or alcohol continually bringing them down.

    Wait For The Addict To Come Down From His High Before Talking

    Make sure that you talk to the potential meth user when they arent high Talk to the addict after they are not in the middle of a binge so that you can try to get through to the person behind the drug haze. Stay calm and make sure that the person knows that youre talking to them because you care. Dont make any sudden movements, and stay friendly the entire time. If at any time the addict starts to get violent or acts oddly, its time to walk away and try again another time.

    Read Also: Who Is An Addict Na

    Find An Approach That Works

    There are a number of different treatment options that can be effective, so it is important to consider the options. Think about which approach might be best suited to you and your loved one’s needs and goals.

    Depending on the nature of the addiction, treatment might involve psychotherapy, medication, support groups, or a combination of all of these. A few options include:

    Other important factors that can affect a person’s recovery include family involvement and other social supports. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that family therapy is an important part of an effective recovery plan.

    How To Help Someone Understand They Need Help

    How to talk to and help someone with addiction  EHN Online

    Friends and family members may feel that they constantly express concerns about a loved ones substance use but never see any changes. You may have reached this point after weeks or months of giving lectures, making threats, ignoring behaviors, accepting promises of change, giving second chances, or imposing consequences.

    Experts recommend developing and repeating a consistent, positive message: We care about you and we want you to get help. Define substance use as a problem for you and others who care about the person. Avoid blaming, arguing, and reproaching, and expect denial, distortion, avoidance, rationalization, and intellectualization of the problem.

    Perhaps a friend, another family member, doctor, clergy, boss, co-worker, or other significant person in their life might be able to have an effective discussion. Or maybe the person with the substance use disorder would respond to activities you can do together, such as reviewing brochures or videos, meeting with a professional, or going to a self-help SMART Recovery or Twelve Step meeting.

    Recommended Reading: What Is The Number One Addiction In The World

    Learn About Your Drug Addiction

    Most people use drugs for pleasure or to have fun with their friends. Some of them start using drugs because they are curious about it, or they want to feel good. But over time, the addiction takes over the life and controls everything.

    The worst part about drug addiction is that people cant stop on their own they always need some help from someone else. Some of them go to a rehab center for treatment some others give up and let themselves be ruined by this terrible disease.

    Are you addicted to drugs? Are you going to quit drugs? You may not be aware of what you are going through. In the first few days, your body will go through withdrawal symptoms. Its important to have a doctor or someone there for support.

    In many cases, it is challenging for an addict to quit alone. Thats why it is very important that they seek professional help and try different methods of treatment.

    Its hard to quit drugs. Not only does your body get used to them, but you also get psychologically addicted to the effects of drugs. If you are trying to quit, there are some psychological tricks that can help you out.

    How To Talk To Someone About Their Addiction

    Lets have a conversation, about a conversation. More specifically, lets talk about how to talk to someone about their addiction. To the outside observer who has never had to deal with this challenge, this might sound like an overly simplistic topic of discussion. But in actual fact, those of us who have dealt with having a family member or loved one who struggled with an addiction know just how difficult it is to try and help that person get better.

    Wise men have said that communication is the universal tool, the ultimate metaphorical duck tape of the universe. When utilized properly, communication is the best practice and the right tool that can help us overcome even the most ruthless of problems. No matter how bad an interpersonal relationship gets, the right levels of communication done properly and at the right times can usually resolve it. When somebody has a family member or loved one who is addicted to drugs and alcohol, often all it takes is knowing how to talk to them, at the right time, and in the right way to convince them that they need to get help. Unfortunately, communicating about addiction is never straightforward and hostility can and usually does develop with repeated failed attempts. The key is Proper communication, which is not always easy.

    So what is the Proper way to communicate with someone suffering from addiction?

    Recommended Reading: How To Help Someone Who Is Addicted

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