Finding out that someone close to you, be it a family member, significant other, or friend, has an addiction is an unpleasant surprise. If you have never been around someone who is struggling with a substance abuse disorder before, it is a tough task to understand how to communicate with them.
Communicating with someone who has an addiction is not always easy. People who have lived and worked with people who have addictions might have found effective ways to communicate. However, it is challenging because of the confusion that addiction can create in a person with the addiction – the same confusion can extend to the people around them.
Healthy and effective communication will play a crucial role if you want to help the person struggling with addiction recover from this dangerous disease. This post will serve as a guide to help you learn how to communicate with them better by telling you some effective tips.
6 Tips for Communicating With Someone Who Has an Addiction
Here are some of the tips for communicating with someone who has an addiction that can help you get through to them, establish a strong line of communication with them, and play an important role in their lives as they recover from addiction.
1. Be kind to them
Addiction is stigmatized in society, and people who have a substance abuse problem are conditioned to expect other people to insult, criticize, and shame them – even family members and friends. Many fear rejection from their loved ones due to their problem and they cannot help themselves against the addiction.
Unfortunately, it could mean that your loved one might be elusive and fear that you do not love them either. Show them that you care through your behavior. Be compassionate and act with kindness and care to help them understand that they can trust you and you love them.
If they start fearing that you will reject them due to their affliction, getting through to them might become a steep obstacle to overcome.
2. Listen to them more than talking
A person suffering from an addiction is always going to be more likely to talk to you and share how they feel if you make an effort to listen to them without interrupting them or criticizing everything they say.
While you might not agree with everything that they say to justify their behavior or addiction, you should listen to them seriously and make sure that they feel heard. Establishing that connection will build their trust in you, and they might be more receptive towards receiving help from you and reaching out to you for help when they realize that they need it.
3. Be consistent
When you are with a person who is suffering from a substance abuse problem, you need to be consistent with your actions and make sure that you do what you preach to them yourself. Your actions should communicate what you are telling them as well.
Suppose that your loved one is a struggling alcoholic, and you have defined the expectation that they should stop drinking. If you open up a beer while watching the game and share one with them, it will result in them misunderstanding your expectations of them or confuse them about what they should do.
4. Try to be predictable
People develop addiction problems due to several possible reasons that could stem from their childhood or anything else. A very common trigger that triggers addicts to use the substance they abuse is stress. Stress is notorious for feeding addiction because a struggling addict may turn to their addiction to feel comfort from the stress.
People with addictions can also become erratic and display unpredictable behavior themselves. Setting a good example for them by being predictable in your actions and words can help you reduce the stress they feel. Surprises can be stressful and contribute to their problem.
5. Show them love regardless of their problem
Since society has stigmatized addiction to the point where addicts feel ashamed and criticized at every turn, they also might start to distrust their loved ones and stop believing that they are loved by the people closest to them.
Let your loved one struggling with a substance abuse disorder know that you will love and care for them regardless of their problem. Help them understand that their addiction does not make a difference in how you feel about them. Show them that you have their best interest at heart and that your love is not conditional on them getting help for their addiction.
Of course, you should establish clear boundaries that let them know that your unconditional love is not something they can rely on and consider you for help when they need someone to enable their addiction.
6. Help Them When They Want to Seek Professional Help
Many people with a substance abuse disorder live in denial about their illness and continue with their ways. However, those who start experiencing the consequences of their addiction and realize that they need help might feel hesitant to reach out.
Realizing that a person has a substance abuse disorder can often make them feel ashamed of their addiction. The fear of being reported to the authorities might be one of their biggest challenges when they want to seek help.
One of the best things you can do for someone who is struggling with an addiction is to help them get the help they need to recover from this dangerous disease. You can offer to research the ways that they can get help for their problem. Even if they refuse, you can find help for them by yourself and offer to share information on where they can get help. Allow them to feel safe and ease their worries about being reported to any authorities by helping them get the help they need.
Fortunately, numerous programs are available to help people achieve their goal of living a sober and healthy life.
Beat Addiction is a leading provider of specialized and medically-assisted treatment programs designed to help make the road to recovery a little easier. Consider contacting them and exploring the treatments they can offer to ensure that you or your loved one struggling from addiction does not relapse again and can enjoy a fuller and healthier life.