If there has ever been a subject that has been more frustrating, time-consuming, and aggravating it’s the subject of talking to a drug addict about their drug addiction. So many parents, family members, and friends have explained their failed attempts to convince a drug addict to get help. This is partly why drug addiction and alcohol abuse requires professional counselors with years of experience and training to deal with these issues. Just like a dentist who specializes in tooth problems, drug addiction counselors work with drug addicts and drug addiction.
Starting a Conversation
Starting a conversation with a drug addict is an art in itself. First off the drug addict is quite aware of the upsets, emotional pains, and anxieties he or she is causing others. The drugs simply dull this awareness, so they don’t care, at least on the surface but down deep under all the complexities you can be certain they care and don’t want this type of lifestyle. Getting to this underlayer of truth is the tricky part. But it can be done, by anyone who cares, all one needs is a bit of advice on how to approach the drug addict.
Proper Timing & Patience
First off the timing must be right, if the person is just gotten high, you can be certain that anything you say is being misread or not heard, despite the head nods and agreeable yes’s. The best time to approach the subject is when the drug addict is not high, calm, with no attention on something urgent like late rent or some such issue. Open the conversation by being interested in their life as a drug addict, ask them what’s it like to be on drugs? Normally they’re very willing to tell you all about it. Be interested in what they have to say. Keep this going all the while you’re questioning move into the direction of “doesn’t it hurt?” or “how does your wife feel about it?” and similar questioning. Do not be too hasty, there is no rush; it can sometimes take 3 or 4 different conversations at different times sometimes more.
Creating the Right Atmosphere
The idea is to create a relation with the drug addict that is safe for them to talk to you. So the drug addict doesn’t feel judged or evaluated or demeaned. You need to create trust, friendship, and a relaxed atmosphere with the addict. At one point the person will give a sign of not being happy or will show some sadness or frustration with their addiction, this is what you’ve been waiting for, it’s called a ‘ruin’; it’s what is ruining his or her life (according to their point of view, not yours!). Once the person recognizes this ruin and you can see they see it, remember this; the drug addict knows that nothing can be done about it. But you know differently, softly coax them into agreeing on maybe, possibly something can be done about it. Don’t get over-excited about the person being agreeable to change, this can backfire at any time. A drug addict has a final defense built-in by the drug or alcohol itself; the thought of withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. Some drugs can have horrible withdrawal effects on the person.
The Possibility of Help
But all you’re attempting is to bring the person to look at possibly getting help, just to look at it. There is a case where a person worked with a best friend that was lost to drug addiction spending over 3 months coaxing him to get some help with the above guidelines. Near the end, he brought over a couple of pamphlets from 2 different drug rehab treatment programs and just left them on a coffee table without the addict’s knowledge. A few days later the addict called this person and said: “Thanks, I’m in a drug rehab and getting better”. So don’t lose hope if the person doesn’t flip around in the first few days or weeks. Just stay interested; helpful, friendly and do not make any judgment or evaluate for the person just care enough.
If All Fails
If this fails or if you feel you just don’t have it in you to do it you can hire the help of a professional interventionist. It doesn’t matter where you live; help can be obtained in order to save this person’s life. We have help people connect to interventionists to help a loved one get into rehab.
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