(Good Things Utah) – Navigating conversations with someone in your life who is living with an addiction can be challenging and oftentimes extremely stressful for both parties. Offering your love and support, avoiding miscommunication, and setting distinct boundaries are essential steps if you want to be successful, but approaching anyone with an addiction will be difficult no matter the circumstances.
So, when is a good time to talk to someone about their addiction?
There isn’t– especially if it’s severe. But by not intervening, you risk enabling them and their addiction. Especially if it’s a severe addiction, meaning the person is no longer able to go to work/school or do other functions of daily living, you want to take an active role and reduce as much harm as possible by “stepping up” and saying something.
If you notice the person is in a better mood and/or is soberer, then take advantage of that moment.
Tips for talking about addiction:
- Ask open-ended questions and listen.
- Closed-ended questions can trigger anxiety in the other person and make them defensive
- Avoid being accusatory – sometimes “you statements” (you make me feel…) puts the other person on the defensive.
- Be empathetic and curious in this conversation.
- To some degree, expect this person is going to react badly, which is a good indicator that this is something important to them.
- Manage your expectations and be aware of your reactions. Use reflective listening/summarizing/clarifications (phrases like “is this what you’re saying?”
- Be ready with ideas – the Recovery Services Program with HMHI has multiple treatment options for patients.
To communicate with a loved one who is living with addiction, start by educating yourself, being aware of the language you use, and setting healthy boundaries. You can support them while supporting your own well-being. It isn’t an all-in type situation and never should be.
At the end of the day, you want to let them know you care about them and will support them in any way you can.
Go to U of U Health Recovery Services to learn more.
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