Watching a loved one struggle with a substance use disorder (SUD) is incredibly challenging. When a loved one is in active addiction, it impacts more than just themselves; it affects everyone they are in contact with, especially their loved ones. However, there are specific ways to encourage and support your loved one to get the help they need.

Confronting the issue of addiction is complex. The person may not be interested in what you have to say, deny the issue, and find it difficult to accept your help. However, motivating and supporting your loved one to accept the need for help and seek addiction treatment is crucial.

Challenges of Speaking to Your Loved One About Addiction

Having a loved one with an addiction is complicated, and speaking with them to encourage them to get help can seem impossible. Multiple challenges are common when addressing addiction with a loved one.

First, many individuals deny they have an addiction issue. While it is different for each person, accepting and owning up to their addiction is a big step. When you try to address their addiction, you may run into their feelings of denial, which can result in anger that is directed toward you.

Another big challenge is speaking with your loved one while using drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol alter a person’s ability to think reasonably and commonly change their perception and reactions. This presents a specific challenge as your loved one may not be in the right frame of mind to listen to you.

How to Encourage Your Loved One to Get Help

When you approach your loved one to encourage them to seek help, there are a few tools that can be beneficial. The language you use, your ability to listen to their point of view, and your willingness to help them find the best treatment for them can all improve your success in them getting into rehab.

Word Choice

The words you choose to use when communicating with your loved one can impact the outcome of the conversations. Research has shown that those who feel stigmatized are less willing to seek addiction treatment. Commonly, this stems from a belief that they are being accused of a moral failing.

When you approach your loved one, remember to encourage rather than condemn. Words to avoid include the following:

  • Addict
  • User
  • Drug abuser
  • Junkie
  • Alcoholic
  • Dirty

Instead, try using words that do not convey blame. Consider using the following phrases:

  • A person struggling with a substance use disorder
  • A person struggling with an alcohol use disorder
  • A person who is actively using drugs 
  • Engaging in unhealthy or hazardous alcohol or drug use

If your goal is to encourage and help your loved one get help, these words can help to convey your concern rather than appear as though you are passing judgment. Incorporating other phrases that communicate your concern can also help. Consider the following options:

  • I’m worried about you. 
  • I want you to be safe.
  • I’m wondering how you are doing. 
  • I noticed you seem to be having difficulty lately. 
  • You are not alone; I’m here to help.

Telling your loved one how you feel helps them know that you care about them and their wellbeing. It communicates that you are on their side.

Listen as You Encourage

One of the most beneficial things you can do when encouraging your loved one to get help is to listen. Listening conveys to your loved one that you want to hear how they are doing. It can help them sense that you are interested in learning about what is going on with them, which builds a rapport that can lead to them asking you for help in the future.

Listening also opens up a place for you to ask about their substance use. Asking them if they feel that their drug or alcohol use is a problem can start the process of change. While they may not immediately own up to their addiction, asking puts the question into their mind, and it can help them eventually notice and seek help.

Help Them Find Help

Being supportive of your loved one can take the form of offering assistance. While this depends on where your loved one is in the process of seeking treatment, when they are ready for help, you can encourage them to look at different types of treatment options and offer to help them look into them. For individuals with addiction, researching and identifying the right facility can be challenging. You can encourage and support them by helping them to find the proper treatment.

Importance of Finding a Way to Encourage Your Loved One

Every family is different. However, research shows us that family support can play a significant role in recovery success for an individual. Your loved one will benefit from encouragement and support from you.

At Enlightenment Solutions, we believe in community treatment options. While we treat individuals, our family program greatly benefits the client and their loved ones. Your loved one can overcome their addiction, but your support is vital to them getting treatment and being successful in recovery.

Watching your family member or loved one struggle with addiction is painful. While you likely want to encourage and support them in finding treatment, it can be a tricky subject to breach. However, there are tools that can help you to successfully encourage your loved one to make a change. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that effective treatment often includes the entire family. In our programs, we encourage the families of clients to be active participants in the treatment process. During this process, clients and their families learn to improve communication and heal together. To learn more about our programs and to speak with a staff member, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE