Consider Your Words

woman and man having conflictIf your friend or family member is struggling with an addiction, it’s important to be mindful of how you discuss this sensitive subject. Statements that can be interpreted as blaming may make your loved one less likely to seek treatment.

1. You’re So Selfish

People who are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can do or say things that are completely out of character. This includes lying, cheating, and acting in ways that are selfish. However, this doesn’t mean they are selfish people. It only means that their addiction has caused drastic changes to their judgement and impulse control.

Even though it might not seem like it, your loved one is probably experiencing a great deal of guilt and shame. People with addiction often know they’re upsetting their loved ones, but feel powerless to break the cycle.

It’s better to say:

  • I love you, but I don’t like how you act when you’ve been drinking.
  • You hurt my feelings when you didn’t show up to my birthday celebration because you were hungover.
  • I am worried about how your drinking is affecting your health.

2. You Have No Willpower

Addiction is a biologically-based brain disease. It’s not a character defect, so all the willpower in the world isn’t going to be enough to keep your friend or family member from seeking out drugs or alcohol.

The best way to treat addiction is with a medically-managed detox, followed by intensive therapy to develop the coping skills that are the foundation for lasting sobriety. Holistic treatments such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, or music therapy may also be used to promote healing of the mind, body, and spirit.

It’s better to say:

  • I care about you and I want to see you get the help you need.
  • Let’s make an appointment to talk to your doctor together.
  • Getting sober won’t be easy, but I believe in you.

3. When You Hit Rock Bottom, You’ll Be Sorry

One of the biggest myths about addiction is that someone can only get help after something terrible happens like an auto accident caused by a DUI or a near fatal overdose. However, studies show that early intervention is the best approach.

Health issues are always easier to address when they are in the early stages. Think of substance use disorders as being similar to having Type 2 diabetes. If someone learns to manage their blood sugar with lifestyle changes and medication, they reduce the risk of complications such as nerve damage, vision problems, stroke, or kidney disease.

It’s better to say:

  • I’ve noticed you started drinking more after you lost your job. How are you feeling?
  • I’m worried about the path you’re on.
  • You’re caring, funny, and a great friend, but you seem angry and withdrawn lately. I think you should talk to your doctor to see if he can help.

4. Going “Cold Turkey” Is the Best Way to Quit

It might seem like abruptly stopping alcohol or drug use would be the most effective way to get sober, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, abrupt withdrawal from opioids, benzos, or alcohol can trigger dangerous and potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can also pose additional risks when someone is abusing multiple substances, has a co-occurring mental illness, or suffers from a serious health condition such as high blood pressure.

The safest and most effective way to get sober is by undergoing detox in a supervised treatment center. Mountain Laurel Recovery offers 24-7 nursing care as part of its detox services and works to make the process as comfortable as possible for each client.

It’s better to say:

  • Let’s work together to get you the help you need.
  • If you’re ready to quit, I will support you every step of the way.
  • I know withdrawal seems scary, but the long-term effects of drug or alcohol abuse are even more frightening.

5. You’ll Never Change

Watching someone who has been doing well in treatment suffer a relapse is understandably disappointing, but it’s important to realize that addiction is a chronic illness characterized by the risk of relapse. People in recovery are vulnerable to relapse in times of stress or if they become complacent about their sobriety.

A relapse doesn’t mean that change is impossible. It simply means your loved one needs to reevaluate their care plan and determine what adjustments are necessary to provide the support they need. At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center, we’re committed to helping clients find ways to move forward after relapse.

It’s better to say:

  • We’re proud of how far you’ve already come. We know you can get back on track.
  • Making mistakes doesn’t make you a failure.
  • I know you’re frustrated, but I have faith in you.
If you or a loved one are in need of help from addiction, please contact our medical detox center in PA today.
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