Talking to someone you love about their addiction isn’t easy. It’s not something that comes naturally to most people, and it’s something most people hope they’ll never have to do.
Certain ways of communicating produce better results than others. The goal, of course, is that your loved one will agree to seek treatment by the end of the conversation. So, how do you produce that ideal result? There’s no foolproof way, but below are some tips to get you started.
Being in the right mental state is an important first step in starting a difficult conversation with your loved one. If you feel you need to consult with someone in the days leading up to the discussion, do so. Seek advice from a friend who has been in your situation before or consider consulting with a trained interventionist.
Do as much research as you can before you bring up the topic. The more you feel in the know, the more you educate yourself on what’s going on with your loved one, the easier it will be for you to understand where your loved one is coming from during the conversation.
Bringing Up the Subject
When you’re speaking with your loved one about their addiction, finding the right tone can be difficult. You’re likely upset and you may not feel like you completely understand, but you should show them that you’re coming from a place of love. The reason you’re having this conversation is because you care about them.
Show them kindness and compassion, and listen to them if they’re willing to talk.
At the same time, you should be firm with your loved one. Let them know that you’re not supportive of their addiction and set boundaries with them. For example, maybe you’ve decided that if they continue to use drugs or to drink, they can no longer live with you. Whatever boundaries you set, be sure to stick to them during and after the conversation.
Even though you may be angry, even if the conversation isn’t going well, do your best to stay calm. Allowing the conversation to turn into a shouting match will be counterproductive, so it’s important to stay in control of your emotions.
What to Do if They Don’t Respond Well
If your loved one doesn’t want to enter treatment, it’s best not to force them. Treatment is most effective when the addict chooses to be there. Regardless, remember to stay firm in the boundaries you set.
If your loved one gets agitated or feels attacked during the conversation, let them know that you’re not judging them. If it feels like they’re impossible to talk to in that moment, drop the conversation and bring it up again at another time.