Have you noticed the tell-tale signs that someone is suffering from an addiction? Perhaps you have picked up on subtle yet worrying habits? Is a friend or family member being evasive? Other signs of a secret problem include frequent lies, major changes in energy levels, a loss of interest in the things they used to love, a change in appearance, memory loss, and stealing. If you have noticed any of these signs and you believe that someone you love is suffering from an addiction, it is important to get them the help they need. However, this is a lot easier said than done. Merely bringing up the subject is difficult, as you don’t want the person to react in a bad way. Plus, there is always the worry that you have got it wrong. So, how do you broad the subject of addiction with a loved one?
- Get the timing right – One of the most important things when talking about any type of serious matter is getting the timing right. You could arrange a day out with the person so that you get to spend some quality time together, and then bring the subject up towards the end of the day. Don’t dive right in, as they will assume that is the only reason you invited them in the first place. It is also important to make sure the person is as clear-headed as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of them becoming defensive and angry, plus it is likely that they may not even remember the conversation.
- Ease into the conversation – You need to approach a conversation like this gently. You can ask your friend or family member what they have been up to lately or what plans they have for the coming weekend. This enables you to set up the conversation.
- Be careful with your suggestions – Don’t tell the person what they need to do; no one wants to be made to feel like a child. You need to leave the ball in their court, or at least make it feel like you are. For example, you could tell them that you know a clinic with really good doctors and leave them the details for it or that you have been comparing Medigap policies. This approach – that you are not judging them but you care about their health and wellbeing – will typically be better received. The person is likely to be in pain, both physically and emotionally, so this is something they may really think about. Once you feel the person is ready to address their issues, you can then suggest that they join a support group that is tailored to their specific addiction.
- Avoid accusatory language – You need to tread very carefully when it comes to the language you use. If you are someone that doesn’t tend to think before they speak, give yourself a moment before you say anything. If you accuse the person of having a problem or you belittle them, they are only going to end up getting defensive. Don’t say things like “you have been really angry lately” or “you have missed a lot of work.” It will only make them feel small.
- Set boundaries – It is really important to set boundaries, not only for your own protection, but also to let your loved one know that their addiction is impacting the relationship you have. For example, if you have children, you can tell the person that you love them very much, but you can’t have them around your kids while this addiction is on-going. After all, we all want to set good examples for our children, and you need to protect them first and foremost.
- Don’t press the issue – It can be very frustrating is someone says they don’t have a problem, and you know that they do. However, if you keep hammering it home, they are only going to get more and more defensive. You have said what you needed to say, let it settle in, and then see what happens. It could be that the person goes home and reflects on the conversation and then comes back to you for help. If not, you will need to try and broad the subject again at a later date.
All in all, there is no denying that the subject of addiction is one of the most difficult ones to talk about with someone you love. However, if you suspect that someone is suffering from any type of addiction, it is important that they get the help they need. Use the tips mentioned above, and hopefully, you will be able to have a fruitful conversation with the person you care about and this will be the start of their recovery.
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