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How to Talk to Someone About Substance Abuse

Sep 1, 2021

A person with a substance use disorder, or SUD, is a person in crisis. Many people who begin taking on the responsibility of talking to someone about substance abuse aren’t necessarily prepared for crisis communication. But, understanding how to approach a person with drug or alcohol problems can be very helpful in guiding them towards recovery.  

Today, let’s share some recommendations on what to say to a drug addict in your family or social circle.  

Knowing how to talk to someone about substance abuse can be a helpful way to get them into recovery sooner. It’s important to focus on being kind, listening, and reserving judgment about the person’s addiction.  

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

Doing your research about addiction’s impact on a person is another way to be prepared for a conversation about treatment needs. There’s no one right time to seek help. If you begin seeing signs of substance use in someone you care about, you can start looking for treatment options in your area or offer help in finding resources.  

What You Should and Shouldn’t Say

People who see a substance use problem in others and say nothing may feel like they don’t want to take the risk. They may feel like it will be too difficult or could create awkwardness. Helping someone with a substance use disorder involves a good deal of openness. It can also be aided by an understanding of what you should say and what to avoid.  

It’s important to be supportive in your word choice when trying to talk to someone about substance use. You want to convey a sense of support for their health and well-being. Part of that support can come from talking directly about what you’ve seen drugs or alcohol do to them and how it’s affected your relationship with them.  

You want to avoid sweeping judgments and criticism in what you say. You shouldn’t be calling them a bad person or using insults or attacks. Generalizing about their behavior isn’t helpful either. Using phrases like “you always” or “you never” in your statements about them are not productive.  

How to Get Through to a “Drug Addict” 

Making the conversation about you is a way to derail it before you get started. Getting through to a drug addict, otherwise known as a person with addiction, can be helped by keeping the focus on the outcome you desire most. You want them to understand the harm they’re doing to themselves and the need for help to get into recovery.  

The right tone can make a big difference in these talks. Always be kind in these conversations. You may have a lot to say, but it’s helpful to listen more than talk. Being supportive means giving the other person the opportunity to share openly about their addiction experiences without being cut off and talked at.  

Showing love and concern in an unconditional way can put a person with addiction at ease. You want them to understand you’re focused on loving them no matter what. At the same time, it’s essential to set boundaries. The limits you put on being accessible if they are continuing to drink or do drugs is a valuable reminder of what you’re not willing to accept in the relationship.  

When and How to Seek Help

The need for help applies to both people in this situation. The person with a substance use disorder needs help. You also will need help in effectively responding to their recovery needs.  

You can be a facilitator for their future treatment by researching facilities that offer substance use programs and types of addictions. You can supply them with options for treatment and help them do the research that’s necessary. This kind of assistance can be extremely crucial for people who feel addiction treatment is stigmatized and may resist looking for it on their own. 

The help you seek for yourself is different.  It can be about equipping yourself with support from people in a similar situation. You’ll need resources to sustain you in your efforts to be of service to someone with an SUD.  

Seeking help can come at any time. It doesn’t wait until a person has hit “rock bottom.” As soon as you see signs of a substance use disorder, you can begin researching treatment options in your area as well as support groups for yourself.  

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting recovery.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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