It’s incredibly difficult to talk about addiction. Not only is it an issue that permeates you to the point where your own will becomes difficult to follow, but it can also be a tremendous source of strife in families, tearing them apart.
Finding a way through an addiction with your relationships intact takes a massive amount of dedication, understanding, love, and work – on everyone’s part. Regardless of whether you’re struggling with addiction and need the help, or if your loved one is struggling and needs your help, you’re going to have to learn to talk about addiction with one another and fight this fight together, keeping in mind that it will be very difficult at times.
If You’re Struggling With Addiction
It takes a lot of strength to realize that you have a problem. Overcoming denial is often the first step to truly making a difference in your situation, although where to go from here largely depends on your means, and the problem at hand. Sometimes, addiction warrants medical attention, medication, and strict therapy. At other times, it might just be enough to check into a treatment center for a regular outpatient program.
For when things are very serious, consider sober living in your talk about addiction. These are programs that exist as communities, designed to hold together and teach one another to live in sobriety, in their own way. Sober living communities don’t hold one single way of life to be true – they accept that everyone must walk their own path of recovery, utilize different treatments, tackle different problems, and work within different limitations.
No one can dictate your life to you. It’s on you to decide where to go – but you can seek help, guidance, and knowledge, and there are no better places for these things than in a sober living community.
If You Think They Have A Problem
If your loved one is the person who seems to be struggling with an addiction, then it’s important to distinguish between them accepting this struggle, or them denying it. Both have very different paths, and require a very different approach to talk about addiction.
An intervention to talk about addiction may be in order if your loved one is in denial. Get the family together, contact a professional, and create an opportunity for the intervention to take place. Be prepared, and be pragmatic. This isn’t a bait for a fight, but a plea to open their eyes to the reality – that they’re hurting those they love, and that they need help.
Offering Help & Talk About Addiction
If you know your loved one has a problem and they know it too, then something as simple as standing by them, and giving them your unconditional love and support can mean a great deal. You don’t have to pledge to anything specific, or even take charge in “fixing” them. Recovery is very much an individual path, but it relies massively on the help of others. But you can’t be the captain to their journey. Be there for support and to talk about addiction, not more.
How To Support Your Loved One
The first thing you should do is inform yourself. There are things you should and shouldn’t say, and things you should know. Some things are blatantly obvious: you shouldn’t shame an addict when you talk about addiction, because they often carry more than enough self-guilt and shame, and adding onto it will do nothing but make things worse. You also shouldn’t blatantly insult them – it won’t “anger” them into betterment, but will just destroy your relationship. Here are a few other examples:
“It’s not a problem.”
It is a problem. Addiction is a huge problem, and there should never be any qualms about it. This is a fight, one that you are fighting together as a family. Don’t accept the misery as part of your lives – work together to create a better life, and even when things are looking down and the thought of giving up is tempting, you must be the rock that helps your loved one work their way through it all, and get better despite it all.
Don’t undermine them by minimizing the issue when you talk about addiction.
“You’re not trying hard enough.”
You cannot truly tell how hard someone is trying, unless you are in their shoes. This goes for addiction, as well as any other mental health issue. Undermining their efforts by telling them they’re not “enough” in any shape or form when you talk about addiction simply pushes them away from you, and deeper down a hole of self-doubt.
If you don’t like that fact, then you need to consider whether this is about you or them. Your opinions of how things should be to them are irrelevant, when they’re the ones struggling with the condition.
Instead of telling your loved one that they aren’t doing enough to get better, support them in what they’ve already taken on. If you have successfully gotten help and entered treatment, it’s just a matter of getting through each day, a day at a time. There is no magic switch, no confetti and fireworks when the addiction is beaten. It’s a long road, and you must create your own happy little celebrations.
“Aren’t we important to you?”
There is no greater accusation that this. Someone who has gone out of their way to get help most definitely cares about you – otherwise, they would see no reason to summon every ounce of their willpower and strength to take a step against what has become their very instinct, need and want. Addiction is powerful, especially if it’s something as addictive as heroin or alcohol. Breaking from these substances isn’t just done on a whim – it takes incredible determination, and many years.
If your loved one is still fighting, even after a relapse or two, then that is a testament to their love for you – and their willingness to go through the pain again and again just to get to those blissful, sober days spent loving one another and being happy.
The Most Important Bit
Addiction treatment and recovery takes as long as it takes. There are no set timelines. No strict deadline for total sobriety. No statistics through which you could establish a rough outline for when you’ll have your “normal” loved one back. Life will never be the same, and it can take years for the addiction to finally take a backseat once and for all.
But that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a good thing. Now can be the moment for you to reinvigorate and reinvent your relationship, and take the time to better yourselves. Why should only one of you go into recovery and treatment? Become better people together, by undertaking a journey of your own, and embracing this change as a positive one. No matter how terrible things get, there is one thing we never lose – our ability to choose how to feel about our circumstances, and our ability to draw strength from one another to survive any ordeal.