How to talk to someone about their addiction

It can be challenging to know how to talk to a loved one struggling with an addiction. You want to convey your love and support while avoiding miscommunication, which can all feel a bit like walking on egg shells.

Here are some tips from the team at Arrow Health on how to talk to someone about their addiction.

Empathy and understanding

Speaking calmly and with kindness is important to being heard and supporting your loved one through this time. There is a great deal of stigma and shame surrounding addiction and the fear of being judged, rejected or insulted is real for someone struggling.

Avoid accusations

That fear of being judged and unheard is heightened when accusatory language is used. This can cause the person you are concerned about to become defensive. It’s hard for someone to listen and hear what you want to say when they feel disrespected, belittled or shamed.

Clear communication can get cloudy when heightened emotions are present. Don’t forget to check in with yourself and try to remain grounded even if the conversation becomes tense or defensive.

Finding a professional therapist to have a chat with or help to mediate an intervention may also be a good idea if your conversations aren’t getting anywhere or often wind up on the defence.

Be available

Letting your loved one know that you are available for them to talk to is important. Allow them time to process what you have said and keep communication open. Let them come back to you, and pay attention to their needs. Are they looking for advice or are they just wanting to be heard?

Arrow Health offers a range of programs including detox, inpatient and outpatient programs, counselling, intervention and family support services.

If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one struggling with addiction, we can help you.