Remember that your loved one is in pain. Addiction is not a lack of willpower or a failure of character. Addiction is a very real disease. Because of this disease, your loved one has lost control of his or her behavior and cannot make the types of healthy decisions that seem obvious to you.
Remember, substance use disorder is a disease like any other. No one chooses to get sick.
Understanding that the disease itself is beyond your loved one’s control doesn’t mean excusing their behavior or their need to seek treatment. Don’t look the other other way and don’t let them either. They aren’t responsible for the disease, but they are responsible for themselves.
Your loved one isn’t the only one who has been impacted by his or her disease. Substance abuse disorder affects friends, loved ones, dependents, and co-workers.
Make it clear to your loved one that you know they have been struggling with substance misuse, and that friends and loved ones have been hurt by their actions. Let them know that the time for ignoring these problems is over and that the time for recovery has begun.
The quickest way to turn this discussion into an argument is to speak in accusatory terms. Individuals who are struggling with substance misuse have already experienced more than their share of emotional pain, isolation and shame. When you accuse your loved one of intentionally causing the destruction that accompanies this disease you put them on the defensive.
Remind yourself that there is no need to a fight or argue. This is you and them coming together to reach out for recovery.
If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve done some research into treatment programs. When you speak to your loved one, have some programs and their numbers ready. Maybe even give those programs a call first to check on availability and pricing. The point is, don’t just tell them to get help. Help them take the first steps towards recovery.
It’s important that your loved one get into treatment. It is also important that when making any agreements or setting up any contingencies with your loved one you are resolute in following through. If you’ve stated that you won’t accept any more drunken phone calls or you won’t lend them any more money then you have to follow-through. Sometimes the resolute follow through of a consequence from a friend or significant other is the catalyst for a person with a substance use disorder to finally realize the seriousness of their situation
Having the discussion with a friend or loved one about their substance use issues can be a difficult and emotion filled experience. These are some skills and recommendations that we have found useful in our experience. We share them with you in the hopes that they can make a positive and impactful difference in the way you discuss this issue with someone you care about.