Realizing someone you care about has a problem with addiction is no fun. Once you get over your denial and recognize there is a real problem, you need to take action. But what can you do? Addicts are often in denial too. The first step is to talk to the person and help them recognize that they have a severe problem. Then you need to help them understand that they can overcome this problem, one day at a time if they take the right steps. Let’s discuss important things to consider as we explore how to talk to an addict about addiction.
You probably won’t make much progress if you try to convince a person that they have a problem while they are suffering under the influence of the very problem you want to talk about. Occasionally you might get a response, but any revelations made under the influence tend to be short-lived. Try to predict when the person you need to help will be sober and catch up with them then.
Everyone wants to be understood. Everyone wants to be heard. A lot of what addicts will say when you talk to them about addiction will be evasion, denial, or rationalization. It is all-important. It would help if you let them discover and express all the ways they want to duck out of realizing they have a real problem. Only by doing so can you address these dodges. If you don’t listen, they can keep their excuses hidden. And if their excuses are hidden, you can’t explain why they are not good reasons for being an active addict.
Trying to help an addict can be frustrating. Very frustrating. If you get emotional, that is going to put stress on the person you are talking to. An addict under pressure is going to be tuning you out and thinking about how to get back to the safety of addiction, not hearing your plea for them to start taking care of themselves.
You are trying to help. So focus on being helpful. Don’t get mad or try to punish the addict. That is not helpful. Be careful to avoid shaming the addict. A person who feels ashamed will lack confidence and will to change. Shame and addiction LINK make a vicious cycle, and you need to help the person that you care about avoid that self-destructive whirlpool, not throw them into it.
Addicts, as previously noted, as masters of denial. You may be amazed at how an addict can ignore the impact they have on other people. Many addicts suffer from believing they don’t deserve to be happy, so trying to convince them to stop harming themselves can be very difficult. In these cases, pointing out how they are hurting others may help them realize that they have a problem.
By a definition that is broadly accepted by people working to help people overcome addiction, an addict cannot beat addiction on their own. Some outside help is needed. Maybe an addict can succeed in recovery just by going to AA meetings. Other people may need individual therapy, and some people need full-on in-patient rehab to succeed. One way or another, help is required. Try to get the person to commit to taking specific steps to seek assistance in the form of evidence-based addiction treatment.
Sometimes one person talking to an addict is not enough. And sometimes a lot of people is not enough either. But a lot of people who are working together under the guidance of a skilled therapist will often succeed where other approaches have failed. So if you cannot convince an addict to seek rehab on your own, you should consider an intervention.
Taking that first step towards recovery is one of the most powerful things you can do. If you or a family member need help and you want to get the best treatment possible, get in touch with us now. With over twenty years of helping people to find peace in recovery, we are South East Asia’s Premier Addiction Treatment Centre.
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