Tips for Discussing Addiction.
by Ben Harris
Discussing addiction with others can be tricky. Whether you are the one directly involved with the addiction or a trusted loved one, this is a very personal circumstance that may lead to uncomfortable discussions with others. The amount of information you are willing to share is, of course, up to you and your comfort level with the individual. Here are some tips for talking with those you come in contact with about your addiction or a loved one’s addiction.
For the Addict
This addiction is something you have likely kept to yourself for quite some time, so the thought of telling loved ones and friends may seem daunting and intimidating. Open communication through recovery will be an important part of healing and giving you the support you need to be successful. Before you begin telling your family and friends about your addiction, become educated on your particular addiction so as questions inevitably come your way, you will be able to answer them well.
If you are a parent or spouse of an addict, talking to your kids about their parent’s addiction may seem complicated. It is important to keep these conversations age appropriate and to always tell the truth. Be sure to apologize for pain the addiction inflicts on the child and reassure them it is not their fault, as children tend to internalize these situations. Be open to questions from them, answering them as best you can and invite an open dialogue with them. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics recommends the “Seven C’s of Addiction” when talking to children:
- I didn’t Cause it.
- I can’t Cure it.
- I can’t Control it.
- I can Care for myself
- By Communicating my feelings
- Making healthy Choices
- By Celebrating myself.
As you decide to pursue recovery, it may become necessary to have a conversation with your employer in order to make arrangements that will allow you to go to a recovery center. The best way to do this will be to approach the topic with a plan of action. Be prepared to address your plans for entering a recovery center, how it will affect your employment, and how you plan to continue to work through recovery. Also be ready to ask them questions on how they will be able to support you.
For Loved Ones of Addicts
As either a family member or close friend of someone suffering from an addiction, it is likely other family members or those associated with the individual may approach you wanting to discuss the situation. They will likely have questions about the particular addiction at hand, so just as the addict should be educated, so should you. Take the time to research what your loved one is going through so you can better understand and answer questions that may come your way.
Occasionally you will encounter those who may think they have the best of intentions, but are really more interested in gossiping than actually caring about the individual. Do what you can to discourage this, as spreading information around and talking behind the addict’s back will only be harmful.
Keep it Positive
With those outside the close family/friend circle, keep your conversations regarding the addiction positive to avoid feelings of betrayal from the addict. As mentioned here, you may want to focus on what is going well, your hopes and expectations for the treatment being pursued, and general positive updates. This will also help to give energy to your own positivity.
People begin and continue substance abuse for a variety of reasons. When speaking with others, analyzing the situation and the addiction is not a helpful practice. Discussing how to best support the individual on their road to recovery would be a better use of time and energy.
Don’t Make Less of It
While to someone who has not experienced it, the addiction may be difficult to comprehend, it is very real to the addict. If you are speaking with a family member or friend about your addicted family member, be sure to take it seriously and not make light of the situation.
When addiction hits close to home, it can be difficult to talk about it with others. However, there are ways to have these important conversations, protect the privacy of the addict, and address the concerns of those who care about them.