What to Say to a Drug Addict Who Needs Help: Finding the Words of Encouragement for Someone in Rehab
Understanding the thought processes and behaviors associated with addiction can be hard for someone who’s never experienced it first-hand. Addiction, whether it be to alcohol or drugs, is not rational. It’s not logical. Drugs and alcohol can skew thought our minds into rationalizing even the strangest of behaviors, so when we start reaching for words, for what to say to a drug addict who needs help, we have to let go of trying to reason our loved ones out of addiction. If it were as simple as telling our loved ones that drug addiction is bad, then we would have no trouble finding the words of encouragement for someone in rehab, unfortunately it isn’t as simple as we would hope it to be.
So then what are the correct responses when we want to know what to say to a drug addict who needs help?
Acceptance and Reality
Denial is very real, and very influential. When you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’ll figure out how to rationalize substance abuse, regardless of the situation. This is where denial comes in. The mind jumps through hoops, performing Olympics maneuvers to create a line of reasoning in which drug use isn’t a problem. This can be difficult to deal with, and it brings us to our first point when considering what to say to a drug addict who needs help: set your own boundaries early on.
At the end of the day, when we’re trying to get our loved one help, we still need to make decisions that are healthy for us overall. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries early on. Examples of these boundaries would be limits like: I’m not talking to you/letting you in the home when you’re drunk or high, I’m no longer helping you with financial difficulties while you’re using, I’m no longer giving you transportation, and other boundaries that range from emotional to physical and financial.
Make sure your loved one understands your intentions. Be clear and honest about your boundaries, while avoiding threats that you know you won’t be able to back up. This is very important, because they will most likely test your boundaries after you set them. Overall, when considering what to say to an addict in denial, setting your boundaries is one of the most important things you can share.
While many wonder what to say to a drug addict who needs help in order to find some form of magic word that will turn them sober, they will also find that it is unfortunately not that simple. For the most part, addiction needs to be admitted and stopped by the drug addict themselves. No one can make that decision for you, no matter how many words of encouragement for someone in rehab you use.
The best possible piece of advice I can give to anyone interested in helping their loved one, and I say this as someone who has experienced addiction first hand, is to stop enabling them, let them know you love them and want what’s best for them, and make it clear that, while you refuse to support their addiction, you will always be waiting with open arms on the day that they finally stop getting in their own way and start legitimately seeking help.
There are other tips I can give, though. In many cases drug addicts will respond with resistance if they are challenge in any way, so try to avoid direct and stern disagreements. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put your foot down, you should! It just means to avoid hostile and confrontational behavior. In addition don’t placate them either, instead ask real questions. Ask them about what they think about their behaviors, their situation, and the potential risk and consequences their actions contain. In short, treat them like the adult they are, and let them be responsible for their own behaviors, while still offering emotional support.
It can be extremely difficult to cope with the reality that there is nothing you can say to an addict to immediately cure or even truly make a massive difference in their addiction, but showing emotional support, avoiding enabling behaviors, and trying to reach a place of honesty and understanding can go a long way to easing their path towards recovery. If you need more information about what to say to a drug addict who needs help, or need assistance looking for the perfect rehab centers, get in touch with us at (800) 429-7690.