1. “I’m Worried About You”
2. Motivational Enhancement
‘Motivational enhancement’ is a technique used by therapists that can also be utilized to start a conversation about a friend or loved one’s addiction. This technique involves asking the person what good comes of their substance abuse and if they really want it to continue. In addition, you may refer to a particular incident, such as a time they blacked out on the couch, to remind them of a low point caused by their addiction. The advantage of this approach is that it can prompt the person into realizing how harmful their addiction really is, and this self-reflection can lead them to decide to get help, which is a decision that they need to make on their own.
3. Don’t Use Labels
Many therapists agree that one of the most harmful ways to talk to a friend or family member suffering from addiction is to label them as an “addict” or “user.” These terms, as well as more obviously derogatory words like “junkie” or “crackhead” can make a person feel misunderstood and lumped together with addiction stereotypes. (Language Surrounding Substance Abuse) Instead of using harmful labels, simply refer to them as struggling with an addiction or disorder. The key is to let them know that what they’re experiencing is a disease and that they shouldn’t feel guilty about what they’re going through.
4. “It’s Not Your Fault”
Another key is to make sure that the person suffering from addiction knows that what they’re going through isn’t their fault. Addiction is a disease and nobody tries to get addicted, but many people suffering from addiction feel that it is their fault, which can lead them to avoid getting help. Begin the conversation by reminding the person that it isn’t their fault and that you’re there for them, because the most important step is for the person struggling with addiction to admit that they need help and seek it on their own.
5. Offer to Help
Part of the reason that the person you’re worried about may not have sought help yet is that those suffering from addiction often feel overwhelmed, and aren’t sure if they’d even have the time to go through treatment. Start the conversation with them by acknowledging what they’re struggling with and offering to help with simple things so that they have more time to focus on fighting their addiction. This may include offering to look after a pet while they get treatment, watching their house or apartment, or even just offering to tag along the first few times they go to a therapist or to rehab, since getting treatment can be stressful and many people will feel pressure to make progress towards recovery right away. Even if they don’t take you up on your offer to help, you’ll still show them that they’re not alone and that you’re happy to help them.