While it might be surprising to you to find out that someone you love is battling with substance use disorder, the truth is that it is pretty common. It is estimated that 40.3 million individuals aged 12 and over are dealing with substance use disorder. Sadly, only around four million are getting the help they need. Substance use disorder is a disease. Its symptoms include the uncontrollable use of alcohol or drugs, regardless of the harmful consequences. There are many reasons why people who make otherwise sound decisions in their life find it difficult to get the treatment they need.
Some people are in complete denial. Others believe that they are in control of their addiction and they have the power to quit whenever they want. Some people are afraid to be stigmatized as drug addicts and don’t want to deal with the loss of privacy, expense, or challenges that come with getting assistance. If any of the above is true for your loved one struggling with addiction, all hope is not lost. You might be able to convince them to get the help that they need. But it’s going to require a little bit of work and a little bit of effort on your part.
Start by Doing the Research
It can be tempting to talk directly to your loved one and appeal to their emotions to encourage them to get help. While this might work in some instances, in most cases, it won’t. Before talking to a loved one about addiction, you should familiarize yourself with the terminology that is used when talking about addiction. You want your conversation to be accurate, supportive, informative, and contribute to a healthy dialogue between you and your loved one. The more you understand about addiction going into the conversation, the more empathy you will have for your loved one.
And the better equipped you are with facts, the easier it will be for you to tactfully negate or counteract common talking points substance abusers use to avoid getting treatment. You want to go into the conversation to mention a problem. You want to be able to offer concrete solutions. To do this, you will need to research the treatment options available in your area, considering what you know about the loved one.
Familiarize Yourself with the Symptoms of Substance Abuse Disorder
It is not uncommon for a loved one to feel hurt or embarrassed that you are talking to them about this topic. They may say that you are mistaken and that they don’t need help. But if you are familiar with some of the symptoms of a substance use disorder, you can tactfully point these out to your loved one to help them see the need to get help. Some common symptoms include:
- A desire to stop using said substance but the inability to do so
- Using a substance for longer than they intended to
- Continuing to drink or use drugs even though it interferes with family, friends, work, or school
- Avoiding activities and hobbies they once found enjoyable to use drugs and alcohol
- Engaging in risky behavior while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Continuing with the substance even though it is negatively impacting their physical, emotional, or mental health
The Value of an Honest Conversation
While at the end of the day, the conversation’s success will depend much on the attitude and willingness of your loved one to listen, the way you present things can also impact how things go. Your conversation should be without judgment. Be willing to listen. Try to empathize with your loved one’s concerns. Don’t speak off the cuff. Instead, plan what you are going to say during the conversation. Focus on the facts that you learned during your research.
Remember, substance use disorder is a disease. Don’t approach it as a moral failure or a lack of willpower. You want your loved one to feel loved, not threatened. By using non-stigmatizing language, you can show that you support them and want them to improve. Do you have a loved one who is battling addiction? Would you like access to resources to help them get better? Let us help you. Contact us today at 833-846-5669.