By Sandy Baker
You know your loved one needs help.
You might feel like you’re their last chance. But how do you convince your loved one that now is the time to get help? It’s anything but an easy conversation to have. You might be reluctant to address the situation because you feel like you are the last person they trust. You want them to trust you, continue to talk to you, and turn to you in need. On the other hand, you know they will not survive without help.
Sometimes, you just need the right words to communicate what’s in your heart. To get to that point, consider these tips and methods for starting the conversation about drug and alcohol abuse with your loved one.
#1: Get Sober Yourself
Getting sober, in this case, isn’t about quitting drugs or alcohol yourself (although that’s not a bad idea), but about accepting the reality—and the seriousness—of your loved one’s situation. If you hope to change the way your loved one is thinking about his or her use, it’s going to be important be firm, nonjudgmental, and determined.
The average life expectancy of a person addicted to drugs is just 15 to 20 years from the time they start using, according to some studies. You want your loved one in your life for more than just two decades. Getting serious about what your loved one is up against is going to give you the clear frame of mind to start that important conversation.
#2: Put Judgment to the Side
As you pull together your thoughts and create a strategy to speak to your loved one, make a point never to pass judgment. It may seem easy to label someone as “sick” or unwilling to change their lives, but drug abuse is far more complex than this. Focus just on the facts related to drug abuse.
An excellent place to start to gather those facts is with the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s website. It provides detailed information about what is happening and why. Treatment centers also provide education about addiction for families of clients. At The Ranch at Dove Tree, we make sure you always have access to the insights and information you need to help your loved one through recovery.
#3: Set Your Terms
Before you begin your conversation, set some terms for yourself. Ask and answer these questions:
- Why do you believe they must seek treatment now? More specifically, what is going to happen if they do not?
- What are you, personally, doing to contribute to their drug abuse? This could include providing a place to live, giving them money, or covering for them at work.
- What are you no longer willing to do if they continue to abuse? You may stop speaking to them, giving them money, or supporting their habits.
There should be some consequence to not seeking out treatment. Most often, individuals want to help and don’t want to put in place such restrictions. But lack of consequence simply encourages the abuse to continue. You must create some terms and stick with them no matter what.
#4: Encourage an Honest Conversation
Sit down with your loved one with an open mind. Encourage them to be as honest with you as they can. A calm, collected conversation of sharing information is often best. It is not uncommon for individuals to develop more complex and aggressive reactions. Some may become combative.
To avoid this, keep the conversation just that: a conversation. Share facts and information. Discuss the situation. Encourage them to open up about what they need, want, and expect moving forward. Talk about how you can make that possible.
#5: Make the Point That Change is Possible and is in Their Hands
Working through the conversation, keep an even voice but be clear that:
- They can improve their life.
- They can have dreams and goals again.
- They can stop using.
- They can regain control.
- They can get help, and you’ll help them make that possible.
There is no guarantee, and you cannot promise one. However, you can provide the support and guidance they need to realize they need to change and that they can change. There is hope for them.
#6: Don’t Try to Scare Them
This is especially important with teens who are abusing drugs and alcohol. Trying to scare them can lead to their need to “prove you wrong.” That’s not what you want to happen. Instead, provide facts and figures. Be clear about the substance and the type of harm it can do.
If you have fears of your loved one’s death, be sure to speak to a counselor about this. Telling your loved one, “I’m afraid you are going to die,” doesn’t encourage them to seek treatment. Instead, say, “Look at how many people have suffered and died at the hands of this drug. You don’t have to be one of those people.”
#7: Be Ready to Help
If you are talking to a loved one about drug or alcohol abuse, be ready to take action. Consider calling a treatment center like The Ranch at Dove Tree. Discuss your loved one’s needs. Be ready to hold them a spot or give them our phone number for help. You’ll need to be able to react quickly and give them insight and guidance to taking that next step.
The Ranch at Dove Tree provides one-on-one guidance and support for both families and those who are suffering from abuse. Call us today for immediate help. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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