Talking with a loved one about their substance abuse can be difficult for numerous reasons. Many people who abuse drugs feel that they have no problem, or that their misuse is somehow manageable. Some may react with hostility or defensiveness when confronted about their addiction, while others may outright deny that they misuse drugs at all. Here’s what to do if a loved one has a drug problem. Even those who admit they have a problem can be reluctant to seek treatment for fear of losing their jobs, legal issues, or the belief that they are beyond recovery and need drugs to function. These excuses do not change the fact that those who abuse drugs are in a dangerous situation that will inevitably damage or destroy every facet of their lives. Knowing how to properly intervene in a loved one’s drug issues can literally mean the difference between life and death. This is why it is so imperative to get them the treatment they desperately need rather than watching them continue down the destructive path of substance abuse.
Preparing to Talk to a Loved One
Before talking to a loved one about their drug problem, it is vital to have a basic understanding of what that problem is, as well as the extent of the problem and the effect it is having on their life. Some people may have mild substance abuse disorders which, while requiring treatment, may be effectively treated by a plan made with a medical professional or with outpatient care. Others’ circumstances may call for much more intensive treatment, possibly at an inpatient rehab facility. Having a good idea of the appropriate level of treatment – perhaps even specific local resources or facilities that would be a good fit for the individual – can be powerful in convincing a friend or loved one that recovery is within their grasp and that help is accessible.
Expressing Concern and Encouraging Positive Change
Regardless of the level of one’s drug use, addressing the problem begins with expressing concern, asking how one can help, and encouraging one’s friend or loved one to seek the knowledge of a medical professional, preferably one who specializes in addiction. DrugAbuse.gov recommends that loved ones of addicts look for appropriate experts and pass the information on to the drug user, as well as to encourage the user about the possibility of recovery. It’s vital to have this conversation when the loved one is sober and not under the influence of any drugs that could alter their behavior. DrugFree.org further recommends using open-ended questions, attempting to create a dialogue, and accepting that multiple conversations over time may be necessary to effect change in the addict’s behavior. Should they refuse to cooperate, the best approach may be to simply encourage them and give them good reasons to see a professional rather than to confront them, since this may provoke backlash and distance them further. In extreme cases, where a loved one repeatedly refuses to seek help, an intervention may be appropriate. However, it is generally preferable to save interventions as a last resort due to the risk of the addict lashing out and isolating themselves further.
Supporting Loved Ones In and Beyond Treatment
Once someone agrees to try treatment, there are numerous ways family and loved ones can help. In addition to helping the individual find the right level and form of care, families and loved ones can directly contact care providers to ask how they can support their loved one’s recovery. Many addiction centers offer educational resources to families that can help them learn emotional tools and strategies to support an addict in recovery. This can involve support strategies during treatment, afterwards as the loved one adjusts to daily life, or even in the event of relapse.
Substance Abuse Rehab at Granite Recovery Centers
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers Family Workshops that provide a caring space in which to find community, learn to aid a loved one’s recovery, and find new approaches to create healthy, supportive family dynamics. Offering a full spectrum of substance abuse care, our NH drug rehab centers use a combination of 12-step work with clinical psychotherapy that addresses the root causes of drug addiction, treats co-occurring mental disorders, and provides clients with a renewed sense of hope, purpose, and life beyond addiction. If you would like to see if Granite Recovery Centers is a good fit for your loved one, or need further direction to relevant resources that can help them begin the treatment they need, please call us at 855.712.7784 or send us a message online.