confronting a loved one

Approaching a loved one suspected of Drug or Alcohol Issues

It’s a tough subject, and sometimes it’s even harder to have time for a conversation that seems meaningful. Having a quick conversation in between texting and phone calls, or in the car on the way to work, doesn’t always signal the gravity and importance for the topic of approaching a loved one suspected of drug or alcohol issues.

In approaching a loved one with substance abuse, the key is to choose your words and moment carefully when telling him or her how you feel. Ideally, pick a time when he or she is sober and when both of you are feeling calm.

  • Begin the dialog in an open, caring and supportive frame of mind. Anything less and the dialog may not go as planned.
  • Plan what you are going to say. This can be an emotionally charged conversation. There is a risk that you may say things under the stress of the situation that you don’t mean.
  • It is important that your loved one knows where he or she stands with you and that you mean what you say. Script out what you’d like to say, and go over it – it will help keep you on track.

The Goal Is Recovery – Not To Stop Abusing

This is not the time to demand your loved one stop abusing alcohol or drugs. The goal is simply to acknowledge that you believe your loved one needs treatment. You want this person to know you care about him or her and that you can help with entering treatment.

  • State calmly that you believe drug or alcohol use is occurring, provide the evidence, and what you want the person to do about it.
  • Be supportive and truly listen to his or her responses, but be firm in your course of action and refuse to argue with the person.
  • Have a definite ‘next step’ plan in mind, including a contact person at available treatment center, telephone numbers, etc., so you can proceed immediately if he or she should agree to treatment.
  • Avoid a moralistic tone about substance abuse. It is better to focus on the consequences that you have observed for the person and for his or her family.

Figuring Out Who Is To Blame for Addiction:
Whatever issues have led an individual to develop an alcohol or drug abuse problem, you are not to blame. Addiction is not something that one person can do to another.

Someone you know who abuses drugs or alcohol may blame you for addressing the problem, the individual may see their behavior as your problem. The person believes the problem is not with oneself, but with everybody else. Even if you are correct in assessing the substance abuse problem, understand that you may be blamed for accusing the individual. Just remember, you are not to blame for another person’s drug or alcohol abuse.

Understanding Enabling and Co-Dependency: A co-dependent relationship occurs when you are involved with a person who abuses drugs or alcohol and you enable his or her behavior. It’s when you cover up for the individual when he or she lies, makes mistakes, or doesn’t show up for work due to the addiction. You make excuses for the behavior, give money or in other ways take care of the individual even though he or she can, and should, but don’t because of a substance abuse problem. You may believe you are helping your spouse, friend or family member, but ultimately you are only enabling your loved one to continue abusing drugs and alcohol while depleting your own energy and resources.

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