How to Approach a Loved One About Their Substance Use

It can be very painful to watch somebody that you care about struggle with a substance use disorder. This problem is more common than you might think. Studies show that drug or alcohol misuse will affect at least 10% of United States adults at some point during their lifetime, and many will, unfortunately, decide not to seek treatment. In many cases, substance use disorders are the result of an undiagnosed mental health problem.

If you suspect that your loved one is battling addiction, you might hesitate to confront them about it. This may be due to fear over how they will respond or how it will affect your relationship going forward. The truth is, it is possible that they may become defensive or angry. However, the longer the individual continues down this path without being confronted, the higher chance they will have of experiencing serious health consequences and even a possible overdose. It is possible that you confronting them could ultimately save their life.

Recognizing the Signs of a Substance Use Disorder

You may suspect that your friend or family member is struggling with drugs or alcohol but want to be certain before confronting them about the issue. While addiction presents itself differently from person to person, there are some common signs that you can be on the lookout for. Some examples include:

  • Has the individual been caught lying or engaging in secretive behavior?
  • Has the individual shown a lack of interest in hobbies they once enjoyed?
  • Have they actively tried to cut back on their substance use but failed?
  • Have they stopped putting effort into their hygiene and appearance?
  • Have they struggled to keep up with personal responsibilities?
  • Has their performance level decreased at work or school?
  • Have they experienced sudden weight changes?
  • Have they withdrawn from family and friends and preferred to spend time alone?
  • Have they asked to borrow money, been caught stealing, or been struggling to keep up with financial responsibilities?
  • Have you discovered hidden evidence of their substance misuse, such as empty bottles or drug paraphernalia?
  • Have they exhibited unusual aggression or sudden mood swings?

If your loved one has been exhibiting any of these signs, they may have a substance use disorder and require treatment.

Preparing to Confront a Loved One About Their Substance Use Disorder

Confronting someone about a drug or alcohol addiction is a serious situation that should not be taken lightly. It’s important not to bring the issue up in an argument or during a volatile situation. Rather, you should carefully plan how you’re going to approach them and what you’re going to say ahead of time.

#1.) Plan out the setting that you will confront them at. This should be somewhere private where you will not be overheard. It should also be somewhere the individual will feel comfortable and not attacked.

#2.) Spend time reflecting upon what you want to tell the individual. Consider how their substance misuse has affected you personally and your desire for them to live a healthier life.

#3.) Gather information about local treatment facilities and support groups. By doing this, you will be able to provide your loved one with these resources when you confront them, making it as easy as possible for them to seek treatment.

#4.) Make plans with the individual to have a discussion.

Following Through With the Confrontation

When you speak with your loved one about their substance use disorder, make sure to speak calmly and not in a way that is accusatory, judgemental, or that in any way shames them. Make it clear to them that you are coming from a place of care and concern and want the best for them. Express how their substance use disorder has affected you personally and caused you pain. Finally, encourage them to seek help and present them with the treatment resources that you gathered beforehand.

Some Do’s and Don’ts When Confronting a Loved One About Their Substance Misuse

Do: Gently inquire about why they felt the need to engage in substance misuse in the first place.

Don’t: Argue with them if they become angry or defensive.

Do: Ask if there are any special ways that you can support them during this time.

Don’t: Try to guilt-trip them, threaten them, or belittle their feelings.

Do: Encourage them to share their feelings about this matter and provide a listening ear.

Don’t: Give up or blame yourself if the interaction does not go as positively as you had hoped. At the end of the day, the decision to seek treatment is only in the hands of the individual.

If you’re currently suffering the pain of watching someone you care about struggle with a substance use disorder, know that you are not alone. This is a problem that affects many families across the United States every year. When considering whether or not to confront your loved one about their substance misuse, it is normal to feel anxious regarding how they will respond. However, approaching your loved one can ultimately be the reason they decide to seek treatment. When confronting them, be sure to make it clear that you are coming from a place of concern and love and not of judgment or accusation. Finally, encourage them to seek help and if possible, provide them resources about local treatment centers. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at Achieve Concierge is here to help. Call (619) 393-5871 today to learn more about the types of services we provide.

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