It is difficult and painful to watch someone you care about struggle with an addiction to substance use. Substance abuse can affect their personal lives, professional lives, and relationships with you and other friends or family. When you witness this type of destructive behavior, one of the most difficult but important things you can do is to approach them about their addiction and offer to help.

It’s important to understand that no one expects you to have all the answers or know how to treat an addiction. That’s a task for professionals. The best thing you can do is to encourage them to acknowledge the issue, help them find treatment, and support them through their treatment and afterward.

Learn about addiction

Before you can help someone get treatment for addiction, you should take a moment to learn about addiction first. The person you care about may be going through a hard time and substances happen to be involved in a moment of weakness, but this might not necessarily be the sign of an addiction.

Learn about the symptoms of substance use disorder so you can observe if any of them are affecting the person you care about. If they are, then it may be time to intervene.

Practice what you want to say

Talking to someone about addiction can be very difficult. Emotions are involved, which can lead to stumbling through your words, angry outbursts and negative speech. This can end up driving your loved one further away, rather than encouraging them to get help.

Think about what you want to say and practice it in your head or out loud before having the actual conversation. Reflect on the symptoms of addiction and what you see in them. Reflect on how their addiction is affecting their personal and professional lives and how it strains your relationship with them. They may need to hear this from you to help them recognize that there is a problem and that they need real help.

Additionally, be sure to use positive language from your perspective. Stating something like “You’re addicted to drugs” might sound aggressive or accusatory. Instead, something like “I love you and I am concerned about how your substance use is affecting your health” may be more appropriate.

Listen

After you say what you feel is important to say, you need to be prepared for their response. Listen patiently to what they have to say. Someone struggling with addiction is usually in denial of the problem and can be resistant to change, so they may respond angrily or refuse to agree with what you have said. This is not a time to argue or talk over one another. Let them speak their mind too. Affirm that you hear what they are saying and offer a response only after listening. 

Help vs. control

You cannot force someone you care about to get help for addiction, even if you think it’s the best thing for them. Even if you could force them into help, it wouldn’t work as well as it could if they come to admit they are struggling and make a decision to seek help themselves.

Your role is one of support. You can help them recognize the problem. You can help them find treatment. You can help them throughout their recovery journey. You can help support them afterward to stay sober. But you cannot help them by trying to force them to do something they don’t want to do. Be patient with them, keep talking to them about their addiction and be ready to help when they want it.

Start the recovery journey at Tulip Hill Recovery

No one can overcome substance addiction on their own. They need the help of professionals who can treat addiction and help them manage any co-occurring mental health disorders that fuel addiction. However, before all of that, they need you.

If someone you love or care about is struggling with substance addiction, the best time to help them is now. At Tulip Hill Recovery, we provide treatment for addiction and manage any co-occurring mental health disorders. We’re here to talk if you have any questions about the recovery process or how to talk to a loved one about getting treatment. Please contact us online or call us at 877-845-8192 to get in touch with our team and help the person you care about get the treatment they need.