When you’re really close to a person, you know when they are not acting like “themselves.” Outwardly, they put on a smile and tell you they’re doing just fine. However, deep down in your heart, you know that something is wrong. You just don’t know what to say or do to get them to open up to you. This happens to many people who watch their loved ones struggle with substance abuse or addiction. They can see the drastic changes in their physical and mental state of being, but aren’t sure what they can do to help.
As challenging as it may be to approach someone you love on a matter such as addiction, doing so could be the very thing that saves their lives. Addiction is one of those things that is challenging for the sufferer to admit or even recognize in themselves — and when they do figure it out, they typically try to hide out of embarrassment. So if you suspect that someone you care for is abusing substances or struggling with something as serious as addiction, you need to speak up and be that voice or reason and support.
Learn All You Can
Substance abuse is a challenging subject matter to approach for you and for the person you’re concerned about. Educating yourself on the signs of addiction and the physical and mental consequences of not seeking treatment can give you the foundation you need to address the issue. When you have reliable information to fall back on, you can talk to your loved one from a place of understanding and not of assumption.
Know the Options
If you’re going to talk with them about getting help, you need to know what options are available to them. Though there are plenty of methods of treating substance abuse or addiction. The most commonly used method is treatment through a rehab facility. You can learn more about the types of treatments and facilities in your area by referring to the 1Recovery Center Web site. Rehab referral programs such as this one can give you an overview of the types of facilities that are available and what those facilities have to offer.
Have the Talk
Bringing up this topic is not going to be easy. However, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) recommends that you don’t want to wait until the person has hit rock bottom before addressing the matter. Talking to them is the first step toward putting everything out on the table and hopefully getting them they help they desperately need. A few pointers when having a talk include:
- Talk during a time that they’re sober
- Talk during a time when there are no distractions
- Do not point fingers or showcase feelings of disgust (making them feel bad about their condition could cause them to isolate themselves even further)
- Do not gang up on them (it is probably best that you talk to them one or one or with a few people who can remain calm during the discussion)
- State your concerns and what you’ve witnessed
- Allow them to speak without interruption
- Offer your support
- Provide them with the sources you found for help
After talking with your loved one about their substance abuse issue, be prepared for the fact that they may not be ready to admit it. Denial is very common and in doing so, they may become defensive and even isolate themselves from you. As much as it might hurt for this to happen, understand that what you did was in their best interest. When they are ready to receive help, just be there to offer the support they’ll need to make it through the recovery process.
Get Help for Yourself
A lot of people forget this step in the process of getting help for someone suffering with addiction; however, it is a very important one. Addiction does not only affect the person who is abusing substances; it can impact the lives of everyone who cares for them. It is important for you to get help for yourself whether they choose to seek treatment or not. There is a lot of emotional baggage that can go into living with or caring for an addict and staying strong physically and mentally is important. Talking with a therapist or even going to support groups is a great place to start.
Seeing a loved one down and out can be really depressing, to say the least. When you feel that something is seriously wrong, such as the potential of mental health issues or addiction (or both), the sooner you speak up, the sooner they can get the help that they need. Sometimes, knowing that they have people in their corner who love them despite their shortcomings can make all the difference in the world. Your efforts to care and help could ultimately be the very thing to get them to turn their lives around.
–Sara Stringer is a freelance writer who most enjoys blogging about lifestyle, relationships and life as a woman. In her spare time, she enjoys soaking up the sunshine with her husband and two kids. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article.
[Photos via We Heart It]