If you have a family member or loved one that is currently in active addiction, you may have wondered how to talk to them about Substance Use Disorder. These conversations can often be sensitive, triggering or inflammatory to anyone who is involved and can quickly escalate. If you’ve ever found yourself at a loss for words when it comes to talking to your loved one about their Substance Use Disorder, then this post is for you. It’s helpful to have an idea of how to navigate these tough conversations, as well as how to tell when it might be time to step away from the conversation.

In this post we’re going to cover a few tips for talking to your loved one in active addiction, keep reading for some suggestions. And remember, there’s no one size fits all – approaching your loved one with as much compassion and understanding as you have is the most important part.

How to Talk to Your Loved One in Active Addiction

Find a Time and Place
Being in a comfortable environment that was agreed on by both parties can be conducive to the conversation. You wouldn’t want a heavy conversation sprung on you out of the blue, best not to surprise your loved one in this way either. Find somewhere that you and your loved one are both familiar with, and find a time during the day where you don’t feel rushed.

Be Direct
Be open and honest in your communication. Many people feel unsure when attempting to talk to their loved one about their Substance Use Disorder. This can sometimes lead to “dancing around the subject”. It’s likely your loved one is aware that they are struggling. It’s usually best to be straightforward about this when talking to them.

Stick to Your Boundaries
Boundaries are an important part of any relationship – read more about boundaries here. If you feel that the conversation is escalating, take a step back. Remember your boundaries, the conversation won’t help anyone if it escalates further.

Take Space
If the conversation does escalate or become overwhelming for anyone involved, take some space. You can always come back to the conversation later. Stepping back for a moment can create the room needed for all parties involved to clear their heads and spend time reflecting on the conversation.

Most importantly, listen to what your loved one has to say. Approach the conversation from a compassionate yet concerned place, and leave room for their voice to be heard. At the very least, your loved one will know you will hear them out. This gives you the opportunity to better understand what they’re going through.

Offer Support
If your loved one is receptive to your support in finding next steps – offer to help if this is something you are able to do. You can do this in many ways, from finding programs to driving them to the treatment facility. Only offer as much support as you are able to. Remember not to force your loved one to make any decisions if they are not ready to.

Have the Conversation

Now that you’ve gathered a better understanding of how to have this conversation, figure out a time and place to meet with your loved one. Approach the conversation calmly, and try to keep the tension low by avoiding blame and accusations. You can prepare for this conversation as much as you want, but no preparation will make the conversation easier. 

Just a Reminder

Don’t expect the conversation to go exactly as expected. Having tough conversations about active addiction are exactly that – extremely tough conversations for each person involved. The most important thing to communicate is that you’re there for your loved one and are ready to help with next steps. It’s up to them if they feel ready to take those steps, all you need to do is love them through their journey. 

Is Your Loved One Ready for Help?

If you’ve already had a conversation with your loved one about their Substance Use Disorder and they are ready for help, reach out to us! We can connect your loved one to support like an assessment, peer recovery services, medication management and so many more recovery resources.

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