If you have an addict in the family, you are certainly aware that bringing up the subject of dealing with the addiction is like playing with fireworks in a burning house. They blow up more often than not.
What is the real cause of this? On the surface it looks like they are “just touchy” on the subject. But saying they are just touchy doesn’t lead to a solution. Why are they so sensitive? How can you get around the booby-traps in the conversation and have a real, to-the-point discussion of the problem?
There is a way, a way you can talk openly and freely with them about the drugs and the behaviors and even the possibilities of getting help for the addiction.
But in order to get them to open up, you have to make some changes in how YOU are talking to them. I know, I know, the problem is totally theirs, not yours, right?
If you want to really help that person, you need to forget about all the problems that you have, the troubles their behavior is causing you. This is not about you, it is about the drug addicted person, your daughter, your son, your spouse, whatever.
If you want them to be strong enough to discuss the problem, you must lead the way by being strong yourself and dropping all your indignation, your fear and worries and resentments.
Remember, the drug addicted person is using drugs because of a weakness. Everyone has weaknesses, but the addict happens to have weakness right in the very areas that would lead to addiction to drugs or some other addictive behavior, or some other potential obsession. He or she probably feels pretty bad about the whole situation already, it will not help for you to come in and point out the obvious.
You need to make the addict feel that telling you the truth is not going to open another barrage of recriminations. No one wants to feel stupid, especially someone with exposed nerves, like the drug addict. Make him or her feel like it is totally safe to speak freely with you. You must not make them feel wrong or deficient when they open up, even when they tell you something shocking. You must keep an even keel and let the unburdening continue.
They are trying desperately to hold onto a shred of self-respect. You must let them have it if you want some meaningful dialogue.
If you can listen carefully without gasping or showing your incredulous shock, and if you can get the addict to understand that you do not consider him or her an idiot or a criminal, it is a good time to discuss the options open to recovery from drug addiction.
Remember, you must be strong enough for the both of you, keep your temper and your eyes on the goal of a safe space in which the addict feels it is possible to bare his soul and move forward.
Believe me, after taking addicts off drugs for many years, I know that this is half the battle of rehabilitation. You will have accomplished a tremendous amount by just getting some clean, open communication between yourself and the drug addict.
Good Luck. I hope you find success,
Tony Bylsma CCDC