Fighting an addiction can feel like one of the most humiliating, complex, and scary things a person can go through. If you’re close to someone struggling, it’s a challenge to know what to say or not. You want to be as supportive as possible, but there are days you feel like your loved one is not doing enough to “just stop.”
Six Things Never To Say to a Person Fighting Addiction (Image Credit Pexels)
The fact is that addiction is an actual disease that requires professional help and treatment to overcome. An addict requires immense strength and courage to seek help. Be careful not to say things that might make them feel guilty, ashamed, or hopeless.
First, help them find the necessary resources to make a solid recovery plan. Seek this information at Find Recovery, then give them your full support throughout the journey. Here are things never to say when supporting a person fighting addiction.
Asking your loved one to stop is probably the most hurtful and unhelpful thing you could say. It’s not that simple. As earlier mentioned, addiction is a disease that requires professional help and treatment to be cured. It affects the mind by altering the way it perceives things. The person struggling is not in control of their addiction. Saying to an addict, “just stop” makes them feel like it’s entirely their fault.
Pressuring them to stop will only make them feel worse and potentially push them away. Instead, offer your support and understanding. Educate yourself on addiction if you can’t comprehend what the person is going through. Additionally, spend time together and get to know their feelings, concerns, and fears. Offer any help you can.
It’s All in Your Head
This phrase is dismissive and invalidating. It suggests that the person’s feelings and experiences are not real. It’s almost as if you’re saying, “It’s not a big deal. Just get over it.” However, addiction is very real and it’s devastating a person’s whole life. In most cases it’s influenced by depression, anxiety, and trauma. Therefore, please never invalidate someone’s feelings or experiences.
To help your loved one, carefully listen to their story, don’t judge them, and avoid advising unless requested. Let them know you are there and you will help them through the entire journey if they’re ready to seek it.
How Can You Do That
Addicts find themselves in all manner of problems. They get into conflicts with the law, lose their jobs, and ruin relationships. Families are often left to deal with the aftermath. Seeing someone you care about going through such difficult times is not easy. You might ask, “How can you do that?” as some of their actions seem out of character.
Remember that addiction changes the way a person’s brain works. They’re not in control of their actions and need help to improve. When they can’t finance the addiction, they might resort to criminal activities, such as stealing, to get the money. Instead of asking them how they could do such things, ask them how you can help. Let them see the dangers of their addiction and how it affects you and others.
You’re so Selfish
You might feel like the addict is only thinking of themselves; in some ways, that’s true. Addiction is a selfish, cunning, and powerful disease. It takes control of the person’s mind and body. It makes someone lose their judgment, and they start making bad decisions.
While it might be difficult, try to see things from their perspective, even if just for a moment. They’re in the grip of a powerful disease and can’t think straight. They desire to get free, but they’ve sunk too deep into addiction. They need your help to break the cycle. Instead of calling them selfish, encourage and motivate them to make better decisions.
I Told You So
Even when you point out the damage addiction is causing, some people still refuse to accept help. As a result, their addiction takes over their lives, and things start falling apart. Health deteriorates, they lose jobs and get into legal trouble.
It would be easy to say, “I told you so,” and wash your hands off the situation. But that would be unhelpful. The addict is in a very dark place, and they need your support. Show them how the addiction has changed them and how it’s affecting you and others.
Why Have You Started Using Substances Again
After a successful treatment program, some people might relapse. It’s not uncommon for addicts to go through multiple rounds of treatment before they finally overcome the addiction. When you see your loved one relapse, you’ll naturally get frustrated.
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You might think, “Why have you started using substances again?” But addiction is a disease, meaning there’s no guarantee someone will recover after treatment. Stay hopeful, and encourage your loved one to seek professional help. They, too, are frustrated with their situation and need your support.
As you learn what not to say to a person struggling with addiction, remember the things you can speak to show your support. These include:
- I’m here for you
- I love you
- You’re not alone in this
- I’ll help you find a treatment program
- I believe in you
- Your addiction doesn’t define you
- I’ll be here through your journey to recovery
Things Not To Do
The things not to do are just as important as what you should say. For instance, don’t:
- Enable their addiction by giving them money or shelter
- Make excuses for their bad behavior
- Get into arguments with them
- Try to force them into treatment
- Judge or criticize them
Just like everything else, their actions have consequences. For instance, your loved one may lose their job, friends, and family because of the addiction. While it’s difficult to see them going through these tough times, let them experience the natural consequences of their choices. It’s, sometimes, the only way they’ll realize the severity of their addiction and seek help.
Get Guidance and Support
If you need help dealing with a loved one’s addiction, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for guidance and support. As you will discover, with proper backing, people overcome addiction and go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives.
Because it takes immense strength and courage to fight addiction, be there for your loved one, be patient, and offer encouragement. It could make all the difference in their battle.