Sometimes the hardest thing a person will ever experience in their life is trying to gain their composure and lead a conversation with an addict they love- when inside they are falling apart, the back of their throat is burning with a desperate anger and their stomach is tied in knots from the constant waves of anxiety that bombard their peace.
How do you talk to an addict?
The most important and very first thing you should do is make sure you have a somewhat comprehensive understanding of addiction. You wouldn’t walk into a boxing match hoping to win against Floyd Mayweather without some training- right? When you understand how an addict’s brain works, when actively addicted to drugs, you are one step closer to reaching them.
Secondly, you MUST understand that they already hate themselves. I know, maybe they don’t act like they do, perhaps they are a bit narcissistic or egotistical, but I promise you they do. If you approach an addict with anger, hatred or condemnation- expect a complete and total shutdown of the conversation at hand. This only triggers their best defense – deflection. If you confront their actions with anger, hatred or condemnation, their addiction instantly wants to protect itself by hiding the addict’s character flaws and defects. Not to mention, the addict must protect their crumbling sense of self-worth that isn’t necessarily there to begin with.
When we are in active addiction we want you to see the best in us, so that we can believe there is good in us. That’s a big reason as to why we lie to you and deflect any light shed upon our actions. Remember this.
Thirdly, if the addict you are confronting is in denial about their addiction or plainly won’t admit they have one- don’t talk about the drugs. Bring up issues of the heart. Talk about what you love and miss about them. Talk about their potential in life and how you feel like something is holding them back. Bring up old, fond memories which can be an honest depiction of your love and concern for them. If you confront them about the drugs when they are actively trying to hide that from you, again the conversation will be shutdown.
When we are in active addiction and you expose us before we are ready to expose ourselves our defense will be at the forefront of any words spoken after. When it comes to issues of the heart without accusations, believe me- we hear you.
Please do understand that an addict is not their addiction. They are merely a vessel that addiction inhabits.
We’re still in there, deep down inside. We still cry, we still feel, we still love you. Addiction is confusing, conniving, dictating and tactful. We’re fighting a war against ourselves. To reiterate- we already hate ourselves. No one is more disappointed in us, than us. The way you can talk to an addict and get through to them, is by speaking out of love. You miss us and we miss you. You love us and we love you. You’re upset and we’re upset.
Lastly, offer us help. Even if we do not take it right then and there, we will remember the offer and when it comes time, we will come to you. Do your research when it comes to treatment centers and don’t be swindled. Find the best one. At the end of the day, the addict in question will need some sort of external help. Detox, treatment, counseling, meetings etc. Have those things in place if your ultimate goal is to help them.
There’s no easy way to talk to an addict. There’s no easy way to love an addict. But, the more you understand how addiction works and why your addicted loved one does what they do, the better equipped you are to cope with them. Knowing, caring for, or loving someone who is addicted is one of the hardest things a person will ever do. Remember, you are strong; you CAN make it through this and remember, they love you. They just can’t show it again, yet.
Patience will be your best weapon. Endurance will be your shield. Compassion will be your armor, and resilience your helmet. In this process it is most important to remember to take care of yourself. In any dealings with someone who is addicted you must make sure that you are dealing with your own issues. Otherwise, you will end up drained, lost, desperate, hopeless and depressed.
When you are ready, remember, love speaks volumes that words cannot.