Communicating with the addict in your life always seems to end in an ugly argument. You are tired of listening to lies and excuses, and you’re weary of the blame game. You’ve established rules, yet the addict in your life constantly breaks them — and you feel powerless to change. Instead of giving up on communicating with your addicted loved one, reach him or her in a way that helps you both feel respected and heard — without judgment, bossiness, or bullying.
Communicating with Addicts: It Goes Two Ways
Communication is about talking so your loved one will listen, as well as listening so your loved one will talk. You may feel angry, scared, disappointed, and embarrassed — and rightly so. One of the best ways to encourage your loved one to listen is to avoid using blaming statements that begin with “You always” or similar words that may result in defensiveness.
Instead, talk about your feelings in a way that avoids judgment, such as: “I feel embarrassed and worried when you drink too much” or “It concerns me that we won’t have enough money to take care of important expenses when you spend money on drugs.”
Individuals with addiction are extremely sensitive people, and teens and young adults are especially prone to feeling bullied. If your loved one opens up to you about using, listen without interruption. Do not make judgmental statements, shout, or use dismissive behaviors, such as rolling your eyes.
Choose Your Time Wisely
If you’re planning to approach your loved one for the first time about using, choose your time wisely. Avoid discussing addiction if your loved one demonstrates signs of intoxication. Never bring up topics such as rehab when others are around. Always choose a time when you are alone with your loved one, and your loved one appears as calm and reasonable as possible. Don’t forget to stay calm and reasonable yourself.
Stick to the Facts
It is difficult for an addicted individual to believe that substance abuse is a problem. This is because drugs and alcohol change how the brain processes certain natural chemicals.
You can avoid escalating a discussion about rehab into an argument by keeping to the facts. For example, “You already know that drinking and driving endangers yourself and others. Maybe now is a good time to think about getting sober.”
Show Love and Support
The most important things you can do for your struggling loved one is to provide your love and support, and express your belief that getting and staying sober is possible. Your loved one probably feels lonely and ashamed — more than you could imagine — and needs you now, more than ever before.
For more information on how to communicate with an addicted loved one, contact Clarity Way today.
Disclaimer: The woman pictured in the photo is a model and is used for illustrative purposes only.