Talking to a loved one about their alcohol or substance use and treatment can be uncomfortable, challenging, and scary. Many people fear they will upset their loved one, that it is not their place to say anything, or that they might even make the situation worse than it already is. All of these are 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.
Substance use disorders often impair daily functioning in some way. Diagnosis of a substance use disorder is based on factors such as:
Some other factors that might be seen in those with a substance abuse disorder include:
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 critical. 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.
Dr. Rachel Needle has specialized training in the area of substance abuse. She is a professional consultant to substance abuse facilities and assists them in expanding and enhancing clinical programming. Dr. Needle also does expert training for staff members at residential and outpatient facilities that specialize in alcohol and substance abuse.
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