How to Talk to Family Members About Addiction

Many people struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. New government data show that "23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs" and that only 11% of those addicted receive treatment for their addiction. With so many people suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD), it is becoming an increasingly common experience for many of us and our family members.

Whether you are suffering from addiction or have a family member who is, it is essential to have an honest discussion about what is occurring. Talking about substance abuse in families might seem like a difficult task, but having an open dialogue about addiction could be the very thing that saves someone's life. 

How to Ask Your Family for Help When Suffering From Substance Abuse

It is not easy to ask for help, especially when the reason you need help brings about intense feelings of guilt or shame. Admitting to someone — either in person, over the phone, or virtually — that you need help may appear to be too daunting of a task. The good news is that you have made it this far; by admitting, even just to yourself, that you need help, you are taking the first step in your recovery journey! The better news is that you are not alone. There are loved ones, friends, and peers that all want to help you. 

If you are concerned about talking to your family members about your substance abuse, here are a few tips that are important to remember: 

  • Honesty is essential. Opening up to family members about your addiction is not easy; however, you must be completely honest with them about your addiction to receive the help you need.
  • Location matters. Find a place, time, and setting where you will feel comfortable and find it safe to be vulnerable. You'll want to give yourself enough time to have the conversation and not feel rushed. You can have this conversation in person, virtually, or over the phone.
  • Help comes in many different ways. If you do not initially feel comfortable asking a family member for help, reach out to a medical professional, or find a local support group that can point you in the right direction.

How to Talk to Family Members Suffering From Addiction

If you're concerned a family member is abusing drugs or alcohol, initiating a conversation with them feel like a challenging or frightening task. People are often concerned about how their family members will react. Will they become confrontational, violent, or try to retaliate somehow? 

No matter how difficult the task of having a conversation with them may seem, it could be the very thing that helps save their lives. If you suspect your family member is in active addiction, but are unsure, some common signs that your loved one may be in distress are:

  • Increased isolation: Withdrawing from family and friends, noticeable changes in daily routines, desire to be left alone.
  • Personality changes: Demonstrating disruptive behavior, becoming aggressive, increased level of conflicts with friends and family.
  • Changes in health and appearance: Disheveled appearance, poor hygiene, extreme fatigue, dramatic weight loss or gain.

If you are wondering how to approach someone, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Educate yourself on addiction. There are many resources to help you learn more about the signs, triggers, and symptoms of addiction. Addiction is a disease, and the more you know about its causes and effects, the more you will be able to empathize with your loved one.
  • Have realistic expectations. Addiction recovery does not happen overnight. If your loved one is in active addiction, it may take some time before they accept help or treatment. However, continue to hold them accountable and let them know that you are ready to help them when they are prepared to get sober.
  • Encourage professional help. One of the most important things you can do for your family or friend is to encourage them to seek the professional medical help they need. If you are unsure where to start, ask your health providers for treatment center referrals in your area. In addition, you can find local help in your area here.

We Are Here to Help

If someone you care about is suffering from addiction, we are here to help with all of your intervention and treatment needs. At South Florida Intervention, we offer a range of recovery services that help families in crisis. In addition to our comprehensive intervention services led by a professional, we offer recovery coaching, sober escorts, parent coaching, case management, and more. 

Our goal is to remove the stress and anxiety that families may feel during this time so that they and their loved ones experiencing addiction can focus on leading happier and healthier lives. 

Talking to family members about addiction can seem like a challenging task. If you are struggling with substance abuse, you may feel too guilty or ashamed to ask for help. However, it is essential to remember that asking for help is one of the most courageous steps you can take to become sober. If you suspect that a family member may be suffering from substance abuse, talking to them about their addiction could be the event that saves their life. Before you speak to them, be sure you educate yourself about addiction and set realistic expectations of their recovery process. If you feel you need to have an intervention with your family member and are not sure where to start, we are here to help. At South Florida Intervention, we offer comprehensive intervention packages and professionally led interventions to help families in crisis. To learn more, call us today at (202) 390-2273.