When you find out that a family member struggles with addiction, be careful about how you communicate.
Take the following steps when you talk with this addicted loved one:
Be Very Loving
When you approach an addicted family member, talk to him when you believe he is not under the influence or else he may not remember the conversation. Furthermore, be as kind and patient as possible. You can’t lose your temper or blurt out words that can be misinterpreted. For instance, instead of saying, “I can’t believe how much you are drinking,” say something like, “I am really concerned about your drinking.” When you do talk, listen for the bulk of the conversation. It is easy to react emotionally, but if you are careful with your words then you can make a great difference. Be clear that you are upset with the behavior, but that you still love the addict.
Keep Communication Open
It is important to keep communication open with an addict. Again, remember to let the addict talk at least as much as you, if not more. Maintain an inviting tone of voice, but if the individual does not answer the questions at all or if she refuses to talk with you, then be careful. Hug her; tell her how much you love her. Then take a break and talk again after you have calmed down.
Be Firm and Consistent
It is important to stay firm in what you say and do. For example, if you say “family members must help with the chores,” but there are no consequences for avoiding chores, then the addict will recognize this discrepancy. In fact, he will likely assume that your threats do not matter. You can build credibility through your actions and words. As you remain consistent in your message, there will be fewer opportunities for misunderstanding.
Remember that you can’t show too much love to an addicted family member. If your loved one does not want to talk with you or if she lies about the situation, then emphasize that you love and are there for her.
If you have any questions about what you should say to an addicted family member, then call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline at 1-877-345-3370. One of our admissions coordinators will answer your questions and help you find professional treatment.