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Understanding Addiction: How Do I Explain My Loved One’s Addiction To Others?

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Understanding addiction can be an impenetrable matter, especially for someone who has not suffered from the disease themselves.  Whether your addicted loved one is a spouse, sibling, parent, or friend, you may be wondering how you are supposed to explain their disease to others.  It can be a heavy topic, but avoiding it may not be so good either.  There probably won’t be the perfect time to casually bring up your loved one’s addiction, and you may even feel that some things are better left unsaid.  Most of the time, it works best for the recovering addict to have supporters and people in their life that remain understanding of their struggles, so telling others that are close to either you or your loved one can be advantageous.

Understanding Addiction

Explaining Your Loved One’s Addiction

You should plan what you are going to say about your loved one’s addiction.  It’s much better to be prepared and have appropriate answers ready rather than wing the whole discussion.  Sometimes in the moment, people tend to say too much, overemphasize or underestimate the reality of the situation, and let their emotions get the best of their words.  This is why proper preparation should help by providing a guideline of how the conversation should go, so matters don’t get out of hand.  Remaining calm and reporting the necessary information that you planned will benefit your talk.

Talking one on one with someone about your loved one’s addiction can make you feel uncomfortable.  The other person may also not have an adequate knowledge of understanding addiction, so remember to be patient when working through the incommodious feelings because they will pass.  The conversation you are having about your loved one’s addiction is only temporary and a small portion out of your life, so the unwanted feelings towards it won’t last.  It’s important that you have the conversation so that others involved in your loved one’s life can understand that it’s a difficult time.  It is better to address that there is an issue of concern rather than hide the fact that something is going on with your loved one or blatantly ignore the problem altogether.

It is vital to remember to be considerate of your loved one when making the effort of understanding addiction.  They may not want you to disclose all the details about their disease and you shouldn’t be at liberty to tell every specific detail of their story.  Try to say only what you feel you must, even if it’s extremely discrete.  You should just be trying to get the message across that they are sick and need help.

When discussing your loved one’s addiction, you should not defend any harmful actions that they may have caused or excuse their actions because of the addiction.  You can rephrase stating how that’s not the kind of person your loved one truly is and hopefully with treatment, they will be able to recover.  You may also want to, with the permission of your loved one, state what changes your loved one will be going through, like going to an outpatient program, attending 12-Step Fellowship meetings, or going to an inpatient rehabilitation facility.  It can ease the mind of others by hearing that your loved one is taking the necessary measures to better themselves and make positive changes in their life.

Talking to others about your loved one’s addiction can be a sticky matter, but as long as you address the topic appropriately and follow these tips, it should be less stressful.  Hopefully it will also provide others a better way of understanding addiction.  Be sure to reinforce the idea that your loved one is going to need support and encouragement.  You can even thank others for remaining hopeful for your loved one’s future.  Understanding addiction can be overwhelming, but being there for your loved one and able to to explain what is going on to others can help bring everyone together to face the severity of the disease.  Nobody has to fight the battle alone.

If you find that you are struggling with addiction, call The Watershed for help today at 1-800-861-1768.  A life without the use of drugs and/or alcohol is possible for anyone who desires it.




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