How to Talk to Someone Who is a Substance Abuser About Their Use
Substance abuse and addiction is a dangerous and complicated disease that affects millions of Americans, that affects everyone around the person using drugs, as well. Many people do not recognize when their drug use has gotten out of control, and this may prompt the people in their lives to talk to them about their drug use. However, there is a certain amount of caution and planning that should go into having this conversation.
First Things First
The first thing to do when planning to talk to someone about their substance abuse, is to know whether or not they actually have a substance abuse problem. There are a number of signs and symptoms that indicate a substance abuse problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some of these are:
- if the person has withdrawal symptoms when not on the drug,
- if the person is continuously taking more of the drug,
- if the person is always talking about taking, or getting more of the drug,
- if they continue to use drugs, even when it is putting their health and welfare at jeopardy,
- if they give up normal activities and long relationships for the drug, and
- if they are unable to meet their responsibilities at work or home because of the drug.
If someone is exhibiting these signs and symptoms, there is a good chance that they have a substance abuse problem or addiction. It is at this point that it would be wise for you to step in and say something.
If you have decided that you need to talk to someone about their substance use, you should know, according to the Partnership for Drug Free Kids, that there are things that you should, and should not, do. Some of the things that you should not do are:
- do not be confrontational, as confrontation helps no one,
- do not speculate on their reasons for using, since this comes off as arrogance,
- do not have too high expectations, because recovery takes time,
- do not be under the influence, or talk to them when they are under the influence, and
- do not lecture them, as this keeps them from really hearing you.
Just as there are things you should not do, there are things you should do. These include:
- having an open mind and listening, as this makes communication easier,
- expressing your concern, and listing specific instances where their drug use hurt them or you,
- planning to talk when you can be relatively sure of some time alone together,
- trying to make them as comfortable as possible, and
- having treatment options available to suggest, should they ask for them.
By following these guidelines, it is far more likely that your conversation will have a positive outcome.
No one really wants to have a potentially harmful discussion for no reason. The primary purpose of any conversation that you have with someone about their drug use should be getting them the help they need. As such, it is wise to have an understanding of the treatment options available, and to be in a position to help the substance abuser find the treatment option that is right for them. Whether this is a detox program, rehab, or counseling, the first step is talking to a doctor that can determine what course of action is needed. Remember, also, to point out that there is hope. Just as anyone can fall into the dangers of the disease of addiction, anyone can recover. If you need help starting this conversation give us a call at 1-800-895-1695.