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12 - 12 - 2012

HOW TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT AN ADDICTION Drug addiction is a condition that affects millions of individuals and their families every day. The devastation that drug addiction leaves in its wake can be felt in relationships, careers and the health of the individual struggling with the disease. Sadly, the majority of people who suffer from a drug addiction will never seek the help they need. Individuals may use these following denial tactics to avoid getting treatment.

• Explain behaviors without associating them with drug use • Blame someone else

• React to concerns about drug use with defiance and argumentative behaviors such as yelling

• Turn the conversation away from drug use

• React to concerns about drug use with humor

• Lie

• Withdraw from loved ones

• Manipulate

• Appear to comply


HOW TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT AN ADDICTION Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: • Marijuana is the most widely used drug in the United States. Over three-quarters of all drug addicts use, or have used marijuana. • Every year, more than 20,000 individuals die as a result of illicit drug use. • In the past 20 years, the number of people living with drug addictions in the United States has increased by 500 percent. • More than 15 million Americans use illicit drugs each year.

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

HOW TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT AN ADDICTION More Statistics • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 7 million Americans—2.8% of the U.S. population—abuse prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. • One person dies every 19 minutes from prescription drug abuse in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Source: CDC & National Institute on Drug Abuse


Listen to an addict at least as much as you talk

Always be consistent with an addict

Show you care through your behavior –

Whether they are a loved one or just an

Whenever you are with an addict,

always act with kindness and compassion.

addict you need to communicate with, a

communicate through your actions as well

This is the elusive secret ingredient to

person with an addiction is more likely to

as your words. Remain consistent in your

successful interaction with an addict.

confide in you about what is really going on

message, so that they don't misunderstand

for them if you listen without interrupting

what it is you want or expect of them. For

or criticizing. Even if you do not agree with

example, don't say you think your partner

their behavior, addictions happen for a

has a drinking problem, and then share a

reason. Research the addiction and try to

bottle of wine over dinner.

understand what it is like from an addict's point of view.


Source: About Health Addictions


Show unconditional love or concern

Try to be predictable with an addict

Support an addict’s process of change

Let an addict know that you still love or care

Addicts can be very unpredictable in their

Let the addict know that you are willing to

about them, no matter how severe their

words and behavior, but setting a good

support them in changing, for example, by

addiction. If this is not true or possible, at least

example can help to turn this around. Be

coming with them to family or couples

that you have their best interests at heart,

predictable in your words and actions


whether or not they get help. Don't be scared

whenever you are around an addict --

to set limits and follow through to show you

surprises are stressful, and stress feeds

aren't simply making empty threats or


psychologically punishing the addict. Source: About Health Addictions

HOW TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT AN ADDICTION Do it the addict's way Seek information

Although you should be absolutely clear and firm about what is unacceptable in an addict's behavior Offer to help in ways that they would like, without dictating what must be done. As long as you get the same outcome, and no harm is caused by the addict's own strategy for change, let them do it their way.

Addicts often feel ashamed of their addiction, and fear of being reported to the police or another authority may be one of the biggest obstacles to addicts seeking help. Offer to find and share information on where to get help. If the addict declines, focus instead on getting help for yourself. As well as helping you to cope with the situation, seeing you get help and improving your mood and functioning can be inspiring to the addict, as they see that change is possible.

Let an addict know your limits

If an addict seems unwilling to change, and you feel you cannot keep on living with them while they are engaging in their addiction, gently let them know. Counseling can be a good place to do this. As long as an addict does not know how much their behavior bothers you, they have no reason to change.

Source: About Health Addictions

How to Talk to Someone About Addiction  

It’s hard to see someone you love suffer physically and emotionally from problems with drug and alcohol addiction and its even harder trying...