How to Talk About Addiction to your Family
Learning to Talk About Addiction
It can always be difficult to talk about something personal, even with your closest friends. Even when you see your friends going downhill and you know they need help, there may be feelings holding you back. Addiction can be particularly hard to bring up, especially with the stigma that can be associated with it.
As times have changed, attitudes about addiction have also changed. There is no longer such a stigma with addiction treatment, as many famous and influential people have admitted that they sometimes need help. It is easier for people to accept that addicts are suffering from the disease when beautiful, intelligent individuals take the spotlight and admit they have needed help themselves.
What’s Holding You Back?
On the one hand, you know your friend or loved one can’t keep going down this path forever. On the other hand, you are having a hard time getting the conversation started. There are a lot of reasons you may be afraid to speak with your loved one about recovery.
“It’s none of my business.” Addiction is personal, and bringing up the subject can feel invasive. You may feel like you should wait until your friend brings up the subject because you don’t want to invade his or her privacy. If you really care about your friend, you should remind yourself that your friend is your business. Helping someone crawl out of the pit of addiction could save that person’s life.
“It could be worse.” This is dangerous thinking. By the time other people notice there is a problem, things are usually far worse than they look. Most addicts are secretive about many of their habits and hide anything that might seem embarrassing. When you realize your friend is suffering, it usually means it’s no longer possible to hide the bad effects of addiction.
“I don’t want to ruin our trust.” Sometimes people react defensively when approached about their addictions. That is a normal response, but it doesn’t mean you should feel like you’re betraying a trust. You are only getting this conversation started because you are trying to help.
“I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings.” Of course, your friend may feel hurt or sad when you let them know that you can see they have a problem. You need to approach them from a position of caring so they understand that you care about them and only want to offer them support and help find a solution.
“Surely, if it was that bad, someone else would have said something.” Again, by the time you notice, your friend has probably already suffered a lot and is coming to a point where it’s harder to hide the symptoms of addiction. The sooner your friend gets help, the sooner your friend can start getting better.
How To Start the Conversation
Talking to an addict can be difficult, especially when so many are still in denial. There are ways to communicate which will make it easier for you to make the point you want and get past the defenses of your friend. There are no special “right” words, but you can speak in a neutral style so you don’t play into any negative patterns of thinking. Practice a conversation in your head first so you have practice staying calm. If you really care about your friend, you want to help without making things worse.
At Victory Detox Center, we understand how hard it can be to have a loved one who is suffering from addiction. Our facility in North Hollywood, CA welcomes the support of family members, and we understand the support they give can help our patients long after they leave. We offer detox, residential inpatient, partial day, intensive outpatient and outpatient levels of care, so we can suit the needs of an addict at any stage of recovery.