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I live in the Rust Belt area and a lot of people I know suffer from deadly addiction. I’ve tried to help friends and family but it seems like this is a true disease. How do you recommend relating to them so they can be open to seeking treatment?
First, I want to remind you that whether someone seeks treatment or not is completely out of your control. That is a lot of pressure to put on yourself. However, there are some things you can do to help support a loved one.
Talking to a loved one about their alcohol or substance use and treatment can be uncomfortable, challenging, and scary. Many fear they will upset their loved one, that it’s not their place to say anything, or that they might even make the situation worse than it already is. All of these are actually realistic possibilities. You cannot control how someone responds to your concern, and they might not be open or ready to hear what you have to say. Denial is not uncommon. However, if you are noticing signs of your loved one abusing drugs or alcohol it is important to address it as soon as possible. If you care about someone, it could be worth it, as you could be the catalyst for your loved on getting the help that they need.
It is important to schedule a time to talk with your loved one and ask permission to begin a conversation. Designate a good time with limited distractions. Be sure that the person you are addressing is not impaired, hungover, or preoccupied when you are going to begin your talk. Remember this will likely be an ongoing conversation, but starting it as soon as possible is important. Limit distractions by turning off the television and putting away electronics. Use “I statements” in communicating how your loved ones’ what you have observed and how their behavior or use has impacted you. Don’t be a parent, cop, or teacher, but instead be a friend and listen. Come from a place of caring and concern, rather than preaching. Don’t talk at them, but instead have a two-way conversation.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
Keep in mind that your role is to provide support. You cannot fix your loved one or the situation. Avoid using statements that are judgmental or trying to tell them what to do. The conversation you are having with your loved is very important. Use this opportunity to listen and respond, when appropriate, using encouraging words.
There are several options for helping your loved one to get the help that they need.
* All responses provided by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
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