Talk to Your Loved One

Talking to someone about his or her drug or alcohol use can be difficult, but the approach you take when talking to your family member or friend can make it easier to get the person the help he or she needs. It is important to recognize that you cannot control or change their behavior. Substance abuse and addiction are conditions that affect the brain, which means that more often than not, a person will need to go through professional addiction rehab services to stop drinking or using drugs to get better.

Prior to talking to your loved one, research nearby treatment facilities that specialize in treating people with addiction so that you are prepared to provide your loved one with options if he or she agrees to receive treatment. Be prepared that your loved one may initially feel threatened or defensive when you ask them to stop drinking or taking drugs. While you are talking with your loved one, try to be as understanding, nonjudgmental, and open-minded as possible.

Having a direct and heartfelt conversation with your loved ones may be just what they need to recognize that they need treatment. Use some of the following tips when talking to your loved ones about their alcohol or drug use:

  • Listen to what they have to say and give them the opportunity to talk about their alcohol or drug use and how they feel about it
  • Offer your encouragement, help, and support for them to seek help
  • Avoid talking to them when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs; people who are under the influence will not be able to look realistically at their situation
  • Avoid using judgmental words to more effectively open the doors of communication
  • Share your concerns; let them know the impact that their alcohol or drug use is having on others’ lives
  • Be prepared; research different treatment options nearby that specialize in substance abuse and addiction treatment, and understand that they may make excuses for their behavior or be in denial when you ask them to seek help
  • Educate yourself so you can better understand substance abuse and addiction and the ways that you can offer your help
  • Remember your goal: to get them the help they need, not to argue.
  • Avoid blaming, criticizing, or yelling, as this can lead to arguments and fights, which are counterproductive and can make it less likely for your loved one to agree to treatment

Professional Interventions

Unfortunately, your loved one may be unwilling to go to treatment and get help, despite your best intentions. It can be frustrating to watch them continue the cycle of substance abuse. In such cases, professional intervention may be a useful tool for helping a loved one who is refusing or resisting help. During an intervention, a team comprised of family members, friends, co-workers, or others close to the individual, approaches their loved one and asks them to get the help he or she needs, which is done with the help of a trained professional.

The trained professional not only attend the intervention and facilitates the conversation between the loved one and the intervention team, but he or she also meets with the team before the intervention. Prior to the intervention, the trained professional educates, role plays various scenarios that may occur, and teaches the team a few different methods of communication and other strategies to use during the intervention to make it more likely that the person will decide to go to treatment.


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