Communication with a loved one or friend who is in an active addiction is very challenging, to say the least; however, there IS a way to get through to him or her. Whether you are a parent, a child, a friend, a household member, or co-worker of a person actively using, you may want to read this and do it.
Addiction is NOT a disease. Addiction is NOT a choice made by a balanced mind. No one is born aspiring to use drugs and alcohol. If anyone tells you he or she enjoys getting high, don’t believe it. It’s a lie. They don’t want to admit anything because feelings are what they are trying to cover up by using drugs and/or alcohol. Getting high the first few times may result in euphoria, if you survive it; BUT, you’re always left chasing the high. All you end up doing is trying not to get drug sick. Withdrawal is HELL on earth!
Addiction is a symptom of helplessness, despair and a last attempt at survival in circumstances that are dark and inhuman. Its roots are in brokenness. That brokenness is cultivated through broken homes, broken marriages, abuse, depression, frustration, being in the system growing up, low self-esteem, and many more similar environmental factors.
Whether you’re dealing with a loved one actively using drugs and/or alcohol, or someone in recovery, here’s a few tips you need to be mindful of.
- Be warm, loving and kind, but be strict. Set boundaries and adhere to them, noting consequences that you WILL and DO enforce if the boundary lines are not adhered to.
- Don’t pretend to understand if you haven’t ‘been there, done that’. Tell them, with all honesty, “I can’t pretend to understand because I’ve never been through what you’re going through, but I’m always here for you and you can always talk to me without judgement of any kind”. Then, DO what you’ve promised.
- NEVER shame them. Always offer your love and support without putting them down or judging them. Judgement is left only to God. Meet them where they are and and tell them you will take the journey to healing together.
- Don’t use a sledge hammer to beat them into the ground. You’ll only drive them deeper into addiction. Encouragement works in a far better way. Be encouraging in letting them know that they can transform and leave their past behind. Show them how God’s Word, the Bible, reveals the way to do this, then do it together.
- Listen and hear what they have to say. You don’t want to condone bad behavior… you want to tell them there’s a way out and a way to transformationally change. Let them know that you won’t abandon them because God never leaves us or forsakes us and you won’t either.
- Be real when you talk and offer feedback. Let them know things like not feeling safe with them when they’re high because they are a different person. Do NOT say that you hate them when they’re high. Do you see the difference?
- Tell them that whatever their problems are that caused their addiction, you will work together to steer them to finding the right help. Do NOT be the person who directly helps them. You are their safe zone,… someone they can trust to confide in. Tell them that you will work hard to find great resources from which they can choose whichever one (or more) that they feel would fit their needs. Understand the difference in being the ‘fixer’ vs being the ‘conduit’. Be the conduit!
- Prepare an arsenal of resources that you can offer your addicted loved one at the right time. Don’t push it on them… offer it to them. Remember, your position is as liaison, not fixer.
- Remember that there is always something good to say to them… find it!
- Before you offer them positive constructive comments, tell them you love them.
- Get a recovery coach if you can. He or she can coach you through what you need to do. They may be able to help IF you need an intervention. Interventions only need to be done in the most difficult of cases. Interventions are a last resort.
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