Encouraging a Loved One to Get Help for Addiction

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When you learn that a loved one is suffering with addiction, you may be very conflicted about what to do next. Broaching the situation with them seems very difficult, and you worry about how they will react – will it damage your relationship?

It is extremely hard to face but getting someone the help that they need sooner rather than later is highly important in the circumstance of addiction. Letting the problem worsen only makes it harder for the person to remove themselves from the cycle of substance abuse.

Without the right support, the person may never approach getting help for themselves. That’s why it’s integral that you make it known to them that you know about the problem and you want to help them through it. Starting that conversation may be the catalyst to their recovery.

The following steps may help you decide what to do in your unique situation and understand what to expect. This is just a guide and not certified medical advice – this article is just to help you persuade the person to seek professional help on your own terms.

Before Starting the Conversation:

Understand that the person may initially deny that there is anything wrong or that they need help. They may not have accepted that they have a problem yet. Even in this case, it’s important to tell the person that you know about their drug use – it could spur them to face the issue, while simultaneously letting them know that you are there when they need you.

Conversation Starters:

  • “I wanted to ask how you’re doing because you haven’t seemed like yourself lately.”
  • “I’ve been worried about you lately, because…”
  • “I’ve noticed you’re acting differently and wondered if there was anything wrong.”
  • “I’ve noticed you’ve been drinking/using [alcohol or drugs] lately and I’m worried about you.”

Choose your words carefully, so that you don’t appear condemnatory, accusatory, threatening, lecturing, guilt-tripping or forceful. If you are a parent of a child using drugs, it’s extremely hard to control your feelings – but getting angry or confrontational does not help the situation.

The key is to ensure the person knows they are loved and you are incredibly concerned about their welfare. It may take some time but getting the person to realize they need help is the eventual aim. Enabling the person to choose rehab on their own ensures they acknowledge their problem and accept the help they need.

Showing Concern:

After you’ve started the conversation, helpful questions to ask to get to the bottom of the problem include:

  • “How long have you felt like this?”
  • “Are you using [drugs or alcohol] to escape or forget something?”
  • “Do you feel that your drinking/drug use is a problem?”
  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “Have you considered getting help?”

Assure the person that they are not alone, that you love them and are there to support them. Undergoing addiction treatment alone is incredibly hard; but with support of family and close friends, recovery is statistically far more likely. Even if you are angry and confused about their motivation for drug-taking, it’s important to put your own feelings aside to help the other person.

Understanding Addiction:

Consider that experimentation with drugs happens for many reasons – including curiosity, for social purposes, because of peer pressure, or to relieve stress, to name just a few. However, someone begins taking drugs, very few mean to become addicted and have it take over their lives.

Clearing up myths and misinformation about addiction is a helpful way to begin supporting someone affected by it. Addiction is classified as a disease in modern times, whereas before it was stigmatized as the fault of the person. Viewing addiction as the disease that it is is the first step to understanding addiction and the serious risk that it poses to a person. It requires proper medical attention, the same as any other illness.

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