Three things you can do
1. Lovingly let go.
If you want your loved one to get better, one thing you must come to terms with about their substance use disorder is this: You didn’t cause it. You can’t control it. You can’t cure it.
The only part you can control is addressing the concern with your loved one. They are responsible for changing their behaviors.
2. Stay open.
Substance use disorders are a progressive diseases. With continued use, your loved one’s brain becomes increasingly compromised to cravings’ irrational and subconscious workings. It can’t be controlled.
Your loved one is not doing this to hurt you intentionally, so try not to judge them. If your loved one had a heart attack, you would help them, not blame them.
Substance use disorders are very similar to heart disease or diabetes. They are medical conditions that are all behaviorally driven. And if left untreated, they are all life-threatening.
3. Gently, but firmly and consistently, begin the conversation.
Substance issues are often a well-kept secret in families. It comes with a lot of fear; not sure you have the right words. However, it is important to start establishing boundaries and asking hard questions.
Keep your expectations low at first. Denial is common. Understand that is part of the disease. Your loved one’s brain has been altered, decreasing their motivation and ability to recognize the severity of their struggle.
Here are some helpful tips for beginning a conversation:
- Talk to them when they are clean/sober and calm.
- Be honest, caring, and clear about your concerns.
- Focus on the impact of their use on you, the family, or other things they care about.
- Have a support system in place. Maybe someone will join you in the conversation.
- Don’t bring up the issue when you are upset.
- Don’t become their therapist or try to change them yourself.
- Call Ten16 and let the professionals help.