A majority of the calls treatment centers receive come from family and friends looking for help for someone they love. They understand the challenges family and friends face as they attempt to assist a loved one caught in the vicious cycle of a debilitating addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs. The frustration and loneliness associated with continued heartfelt and failed attempts can be devastating, especially over time. Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease that affects the whole family and making the right choice is very important, but it can also be extremely difficult and overwhelming. Treatment centers will answer all your questions, provide referrals and help you determine the appropriate level of care. They offers support, education, and therapeutic services for family members of people suffering from addiction. Families play a major role in support for the patient and offer a safe haven. However, getting them the help they need can be a difficult discussion to begin and there are certain ways to go about it. The following are things you should not say to your addicted loved one.
- Do NOT tell them they don’t have a problem: If someone comes to you saying that they feel they have a problem with substance abuse it is important to listen to them and their concerns. You may not see it, you may not see the toll the abuse is taking on them and their life. If they feel like they have a problem and need help, they are trusting you with this information and that you can help them find the encouragement they need. If they confide in you, let them know that you care enough about them to help them get through this and find the treatment they need. Telling them to just keep it in moderation is also not a good idea. This implies that they have control over their addiction, which they do not. Advocating for using at all is not the help they need. If they could only use in moderation they would, no one chooses to be out of control. The best thing you can do is support their effort to get sober.
- Do NOT tell them that you are ashamed: Many addicts started abusing substances because they already had some issues with self-worth and/or accepting themselves. By telling them that you are ashamed it will only push them closer to their substance and further away from you. Addicts know that what they are doing is hurting them and their loved ones but it is not just a choice they get to make. Addiction is a disease, just as you can’t tell someone with cancer to stop having cancer, you cannot just tell an addict to stop being an addict. They need help, support, and treatment for this disease. They already feel like a disappointment and they do not need the extra confirmation that you are ashamed. Instead let them know that you are there for them and you will help them through the recovery process.
- Do NOT tell them they have to hit rock bottom: Many people have heard that addicts must hit rock bottom before asking for help. The truth is that getting help sooner rather than later is the best option and waiting for the bottom is actually encouraging substance abuse and bad behavior. Rock bottom can be different for everyone, for one person it may be losing their job, another could be losing their children, and another may be that killing someone in a drunk driving accident gets them sent to prison. This is not what your loved one needs. They need the support and encouragement to get the help they need now. Even if those rock bottom scenarios happen it does not mean that they will get sober, the guilt and anger from these situations may actually cause them to use more. Every time they use is another chance for them to overdose, getting them treatment now can lead them to a long and healthy sober life.
- Do NOT tell them they are weak or have no ambition: Many addicts suffer from co-occurring disorders. Many addicts abuse substances to deal with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. They deal with these everyday. They may feel they need their substance just to get out of bed in the morning but they keep fighting. There are CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, and other highly ambitious people who also suffer with addiction. This is a time to encourage them to get help not break them down even more.
- Do NOT tell them that they can never change: Telling addicts that they cannot change themselves or their lives is not helpful to them or you. People change all the time and telling someone that being an addict is the only thing they will ever do with their life is demeaning and spiteful. Recovering addicts are able to lead long and full lives with families, jobs, and happiness. Addicts have the possibility of finding help and changing a lot. If you cannot find the encouragement in yourself, it may be best to help them find it elsewhere. Help them find a support group that knows what they are going through and knows where they can go with treatment.
- Do NOT tell them they are doing recovery wrong: Treatment and recovery is different for everyone. Some addicts have co-occurring disorders that also need to be addressed and taken care of during the recovery process. Each drug causes it’s own mental and physical problems and recovering from one or more substance involves different treatments. Some recovering addicts find that faith is a great way to find strength to continue while others focus more on using their physicality to their benefit. There is no ONE right way to recover, There are many different ways to find recovery and find the strength and support to continue sobriety.
- Do NOT tell them giving up their addiction is easy, you could do it, why can’t they: Everyone is different. Some people try drinking or using drugs once and that is it. Others use drugs to feel like they fit in and some use them just to get through the day. Some people spend their whole lives drinking socially and others drink alone. Addiction is caused for many different reasons. If you are not addicted to a substance of course it would be easy to stop. Being addicted is more than something someone chooses to be a part of. Addiction is someone mentally and physically relying on the substance just to maintain some level of normalcy. Their addiction is very real and they need very real help.
If you know someone who needs help for addiction, the best thing to do is be understanding and supportive. Talk to them about getting help in the right way. An intervention can be a good idea. There are intervention specialists that can help you address this in the right way and persuade your loved one into getting the help they need without saying any of these things. You care about your loved one and want to make sure they do things right. Doing some research and calling treatment centers, can give you some of the information you need. This is a hard choice but it is important to address it and support them through the recovery process. https://www.thefix.com/eleven-things-not-say-addict-your-life