Open Communication: How to Effectively Talk to a Drug Addict in Recovery
Substance abuse can be a bummer.
If you’ve lived with someone or had a family member that suffers from addiction, you know very well how much it consumes their entire lives. No matter the substance, a person down and out can be hard to get through to.
However, it’s essential that you talk to them before it’s too late, so that they can get the help that they need.
But how do you talk to a drug addict?
Keep these strategies in mind.
1. Take the Time to Actually Listen, First and Foremost
The first thing you need to do is be willing to listen.
If you have been sitting silently for years watching someone throw their lives away with addiction, you may quite literally want to shake them so that they snap out of it.
As much as you might be justified, this approach simply doesn’t work. Being addicted to drugs is already a rock bottom, tumultuous time in a person’s life. If you hope to get through to them, you’ll want to start by listening.
Open the dialogue in the most non-accusatory way that you can, giving them time to vent and add their perspective about the addiction. They may make excuses or even lash out, so resist the temptation to butt in and have it degenerate into a back and forth argument.
Instead, hear them out completely. You can also practice active listening so that you are repeating and seeking clarity on points they are making so that they know they are heard.
This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their points, but make sure that you understand what is being said before you issue a rebuttal.
Books like “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty” are excellent guides for these sort of listening skills. This information will help you extract the right information while avoiding the traps that come with manipulative conversation tactics.
2. Consider Going to Counseling Together
Nothing opens up the lines of communication like professional counseling.
You can go to counseling at any point before the intervention and during and after recovery. Sitting in front of a professional gives you both a third-party to help facilitate the flow of the conversation and make sure that you’re both heard and understood.
Mental health counseling is so crucial for your loved one to make it through this time since most instances of drug or alcohol addiction stem from some emotional trauma or psychological block.
Getting counseling will help get to the root of this issue. Going to counseling together will help you both solidify and build the relationship so that it survives the drug addiction and the recovery stages.
The hope is that you both come out of the other end of the recovery better for it, and with a more honest appreciation for each other.
Since counseling can cost between about $50 and $240 per hour, make sure you know how you’ll pay for it. Your local health department might also offer counseling at a free or reduced cost.
3. Let Them Know How Their Drug Habit Is Hurting Them First, and Then Why It’s Hurting You and the People Around Them
Even though their drug addiction hurts you, be sure to emphasize that they are ruining their own lives, first and foremost.
It’s easy to lay on a guilt trip, but the only way a person can recover is when they value themselves and realize that they’re the ones that have to find their “why”. When you let them know that you love them and that they have so much potential and brilliance, they are more likely to get the message.
Framing it about how they need to do it for you or others might work for a short time, but ultimately won’t lead to the self-love they’ll need to capture to make a real change.
4. Be Prepared to Enforce Boundaries
Once you’ve had the time to hear your loved one out and express your point of view, you must also be prepared to enforce boundaries.
If they are living with you, for instance, they’ll need to know that they no longer have a place to stay unless they get help. If you are in a relationship, you will need to be prepared to walk away if they don’t seek help.
Empty threats are easily sniffed out, and if you go back on a boundary, they’ll continuously push it. So while you’re coming from a frame of love, be prepared to love yourself enough to no longer stand by enabling them.
5. Have Solutions in Mind, Rather Than Just Ultimatums
It’s one thing to schedule an intervention, and another entirely to give someone the help they need and be willing to follow through.
Rather than just cut someone off, strive to play an active role in helping them if they are willing to help themselves. Be sure that you have the contact info of a recovery center available, along with a wealth of resources that can assist them on their road to a new life.
Use These Tips, so You Know How to Talk to a Drug Addict
Learning how to talk to a drug addict will open up channels of communication that can assist your loved one in getting the help they need. You will be glad that you followed these tips so that you can help your loved one move forward past this addiction.
If you need a helping hand with the process, take the time to contact us for more information.