Even though the holidays can be a time when families enjoy one another’s company and celebrate traditions, they can also be stressful for many people. Because merriment and stress are both sometimes accompanied by overindulgence, the holidays may be a time when you notice concerning patterns of behavior in your loved ones. If holiday gatherings have you wondering if your favorite relative, your spouse, or a close family friend has developed an addiction, what should you do?
Intervening with Love
If you decide to confront a loved one who seems to be suffering from addiction, approach them with love, compassion, and hope.
People who struggle with substance use disorder probably already feel intense guilt, worthlessness, and pain. So, if you want to help your loved one, speak supportively about addiction. Show that you understand that addiction is a disease, and present the many different options for recovery. Show that you believe in your loved one and don’t blame them for their situation. After everyone has shared their thoughts, sit quietly together to let it all sink in. Thank your loved one for their courage in listening to your concerns and being honest about their situation.
While it may be possible for family and friends to host an intervention without the help of a professional, there are times when a trained interventionist is necessary. Consider hiring an interventionist if your loved one is:
- Seriously mental ill
- Expressing suicidal thoughts
- Taking more than one mood-altering substance
The professional staff at Valley Recovery Center can help you find an interventionist near you.
Preparing for the Conversation
It is difficult to tell someone you care about that you think they are addicted to a substance. Because this may be one of the most challenging–and most life-altering–talks you ever have, plan ahead for how you will help your friend or family member. Some things you will need to do are:
- Reassure them that you love them. They may feel unworthy of love and support, and many of their relationships may have already broken down because of their substance use. Unfortunately, isolation tends to feed the addiction. By letting them know that you are here for them, you are giving them hope for recovery.
- Stick to your boundaries. Be ready to tell your loved one what you are and are not willing to do to help them in their journey. You are not required to tolerate behavior from them that hurts you in any way or perpetuates their substance abuse. You are allowed to set healthy limits.
- Refuse to take the blame for their choices. People in active addiction are often in pain, and they may try to make it someone else’s fault that their life has gotten out of control. Refuse to own their mistakes.
- Stay on top of your self care. This person you care about needs you to be strong and healthy. That means you need to take good care of your emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
- Accept some help yourself. Recovery centers recognize that people who struggle with addiction likely have other people in their circles who are hurting. That is why many rehabs offer opportunities for loved ones to participate in family therapy and activities.
Assembling the Team
An intervention does not have to include everyone who cares for the individual. For instance, people who have anger management issues, are currently in active addiction themselves, are struggling with an untreated mental illness, or who won’t be able to maintain a loving, supportive tone should not be invited to participate in the meeting.
If you’re thinking about approaching a loved one about their substance use and have questions about how to best get help for your friend or family member, Valley Recovery Center has a team of trained professionals who can guide you forward.