If someone you love has a substance abuse problem, it can be scary. You worry about their well-being. You worry about what might go wrong in their life, what they might do, and even how they might treat you while under the influence. Not only are you afraid, you feel for them deeply. Your loved one is suffering, and they’re harming their future–but they don’t see it. If you need help reaching a loved one about their addiction, consider these steps.
Don’t Take the Pressure
When you love someone who’s suffering with an addiction, it’s hard not to feel responsible. If they’re your child or a younger sibling, you often feel as though you should have done something differently, and you’re to blame for their choices. If they’re a friend, spouse, or significant other, you can feel an urgency to rescue them and to take on their problem. In the end, you only have one job: to let them know you love them, while letting them know they have a problem. Don’t take on extra pressure, guilt, or responsibility for them as they face this tough season. No matter how much you love them, you can’t break their addiction. Only they can do that, with outside help. Remember to not put unwarranted pressure on yourself.
Get Out If You Need To
If the addicted person is your spouse, significant other, or a parent you still live with, you need to make yourself priority number one. Don’t be a martyr and stick it out with them, especially if they are abusing you. Even rough and coarse language directed at you is verbal abuse, and that’s not something you need to take. If you need to put a boundary between you and your loved one, by moving out temporarily or limiting contact, do so immediately.
Pick a Time and Place
Your main goal in all of this is to confront. Eventually, you will need to meet with your loved one and tell them that you see their addiction, that it’s really a problem, and they really need to get help. If you’re going to host an intervention (a time where you and several other people sit down and tell your loved one that they have a problem) then you want to choose that time and location carefully. Consider heading somewhere beautiful and meaningful, like a Mackinac Island bed and breakfast, or a favorite family campsite. If you don’t have a good sense of your loved one’s substance schedule, getting them away from their routine and keeping them near friends can help ensure that they’re sober when you finally have the talk. You’ll want them to be sober, and you want them to feel cared for (but not tricked) by your getaway.
Hope for the Best
Once you’ve held an intervention, your work is done. You can no longer do anything to help your loved one, because the decision to seek help ultimately rests with them. You can’t force anyone to change. If they ask for help, you can help guide them to a trained interventionist, and support them as much as you can while they seek a better life.