Have you noticed a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol use? Maybe they’ve distanced themselves from your friend group or stopped doing activities they used to enjoy. Watching them suffer this way can feel heartbreaking and overwhelming — you want to help, but maybe you aren’t sure how to talk about their addiction in a meaningful way.
Learning how to communicate with your friend in a safe, supportive environment can make an enormous difference in their Recovery. Show your loved one your support with the following tips for talking about addiction.
1. Speak to Them Privately and Kindly
Addiction is so stigmatized that many people automatically expect others to judge and reject them, leading them to hide their behavior or become defensive. Instead, you can give your support by showing that you still accept your loved one.
Talk to your friend or family member in a quiet place when you’re both calm and sober. Then, let them know you’re concerned about them by identifying their specific behaviors rather than placing blame on their character. Do not label or accuse them, but simply express your point of view.
2. Listen Without Expressing Judgment
Talking about addiction can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re already expecting judgment. A person with an addiction doesn’t need to hear more criticism. They’re more likely to confide in you if you listen to them without interrupting or labeling.
Try to understand their point of view by listening to them at least as much as you speak. However, don’t try to force them to talk if they aren’t ready. Just let them know you’re there for them and to listen.
3. Show Unconditional Love and Support
Let your friend or loved one know you’ll always care about them, no matter what difficulties they might face as they overcome their addiction. This support shows you genuinely have their best interests in mind.
Understand that your loved one’s behavior won’t change right away. Set healthy boundaries that are in your best interest as well as theirs — such as refusing to hang out with your friend when they’re using drugs or not allowing them to drink in your home. Let them know your limits while still emphasizing your support.
4. Stay Consistent
Communicating your concern for your friend’s addiction in both words and actions is essential. For example, don’t sit down with your friend to discuss their drinking problem and then offer to buy them a drink at the bar the next day. This inconsistency can be confusing and make it unclear what you’re expecting of them. Stay predictable in both your words and your actions to avoid fueling the stress and confusion your friend is facing.
5. Encourage Them to Seek Treatment
Not only might your loved one worry about rejection from you, but they might also worry about speaking to a medical professional or being turned in to the authorities. Ease these fears by researching confidential, compassionate treatment options like a rehabilitation program. Assure them about the benefits of talking to a therapist or seeking detoxification. Offer to share resources on where to get help, and assure them you’ll stick by them throughout this long-term Recovery process.
How 7 Summit Pathways Can Help Your Loved One
We understand that helping a friend through addiction can feel lonely and even hopeless. However, treatment options are available to take care of them during this challenging time in their life. At 7 Summit Pathways, our team of compassionate professionals offers a holistic approach to your loved one’s treatment. We have several residential and outpatient treatment options that focus on seven dimensions of wellness. Learn more about us and how to encourage your loved one to seek treatment by contacting us online or scheduling an appointment.