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How Can I Confront a Loved One About Addiction?

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Addiction is a complicated disease that affects many people, both in the number of people who may suffer from the disease and those affected by another’s use. Confronting a loved one about their use of these dangerous substances can be crucial in helping them take the first step towards their recovery. 

However, it is also an incredibly fragile situation that needs to be handled with care and understanding. Learning how to confront a loved one is a delicate process. There are certain steps that can be taken to help each person address one’s use and help situate themselves as a support in recovery rather than an antagonistic hurdle to one’s alcohol or drug use. 

Take Time to Breathe

Knowing, or even suspecting, that a loved one is suffering from an addiction can cause a myriad of tumultuous emotions, and it is natural to want to confront the issue immediately. However, taking a minute to breathe and calm oneself can be incredibly important for the conversation ahead. Going into these confrontations with a calm tone and being ready to listen is essential during this time. 

This atmosphere of support is something that should permeate throughout any conversation around a loved one’s addiction. Raising one’s voice or otherwise seeming antagonistic in any way can compromise one’s status as a support, making it difficult to revisit the conversation in the future and making an individual even more reluctant to seek recovery. Taking a breath to maintain a supportive and calm voice can prompt a genuine dialogue based around support rather than accusations or anger. 

Gather Evidence Beforehand

Confronting a loved one about addiction will undoubtedly be met with resistance, denial, or deflection. Addressing the topic is a very emotional and vulnerable situation, and it is normal that an individual may want to divert attention away from the situation. This can make conversations about addiction that lack physical evidence difficult to navigate. 

Gathering evidence about a loved one’s addiction not only helps justify concern for confronting them, but it also forces them to objectively view the effects that their use of an addictive substance has had on themselves and those around them. Evidence can be several different things, like finding bottles of alcohol or drugs in one’s living space and presenting them with the items or photographs of them. 

Evidence can also be actions or behaviors that may indicate intoxication or addiction, such as a sudden change in social activity, poor performance or attendance at work or school, negligence of responsibilities, or other out-of-character behaviors. This kind of evidence is also best used when tied to certain events and dates that cannot be disputed, such as why a person stayed home from work on a particular day without seeming ill or another reason. 

Have the Conversation in a Safe Space

The environment where a conversation takes place holds a great deal of weight over how the confrontation may unfold. Asking someone into an unfamiliar space or another’s living space can inherently put a person on the defensive. With evidence gathered, it is important to have this conversation in a space that is familiar and safe to those suffering from addiction, such as a common family room or the individual’s own bedroom if they feel more comfortable there. 

Have the Next Step Ready

Confronting an individual about their alcohol or drug use can be extremely difficult for all involved. However, it is important to have the next step ready to help guide the conversation and present options, rather than ultimatums to an individual. Researching nearby recovery facilities or support groups where an individual can be introduced to the idea of recovery can all be incredibly effective. Collecting websites or pamphlets on various places and familiarizing oneself with their unique aspects can help situate oneself as a supportive person looking to help, rather than someone trying to force recovery upon another person.

Express Reasonable Expectations

Many conversations around addiction can become derailed by unrealistic expectations. Addiction is a disease that fundamentally alters a person’s brain chemistry, and the use of addictive substances can become correlated with one’s basic needs, such as food and water. With this perspective, simply telling someone to “just stop it” is not only antagonistic but is often an unrealistic goal to impart on an individual who has still to learn many coping strategies and address the biological aspects of addiction. 

Rather, confrontations can be more fruitful if an individual sets appropriate expectations for the conversation ahead. Agreeing to just explore the recovery places presented, record their use honestly to help visualize, or set aside only a predetermined amount of money can all help to scaffold the idea of recovery while still demonstrating understanding and support. Recovery is a long process, and being aware of this fact can help to set appropriate goals for the journey forward. 

Confronting a loved one about their substance use is a difficult and emotional situation, and Everlast Recovery Center is here to help you better understand addiction and guide you through the steps to get the help that your loved ones may need. We offer an array of programs to help you or a loved one through each stage of recovery, from detox to residential living. Your time with us can be further personalized to fit your needs and goals in sobriety, and you will have the opportunity to engage in a myriad of therapeutic approaches, including 12-Step programs, art and music therapy, EMDR, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and even individual and family programs to learn to heal and grow together. For more information on how we can create a recovery plan based on your personal needs and goals or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your situation, call us today at (866) 338-6925.

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