How to Talk to a Loved One About Substance Abuse

How to Talk to a Loved One About Substance Abuse

If someone you love is showing signs of drug or alcohol abuse, you may be unsure what to do or whether you should say anything. However, there is much you can do, and your willingness to intervene could encourage them to get the life-saving help they need. Talking is often a good first step, but substance use disorders are complex mental health issues, and even simply breaching the subject requires forethought and planning.

What You Need to Know Before Bringing Up Your Loved One’s Substance Abuse

As you are considering how to start a conversation with your loved one about their drug or alcohol problem, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Avoid adopting an accusatory tone. It helps to stick with “I” statements, such as “I’m worried about you,” “I’ve noticed this pattern in your life,” or “I’ve noticed you are behaving differently and I want to check on you.”
  • It’s okay to gently ask questions. If your loved one is listening or responsive, it may be valuable to kindly probe and ask them about their substance use habits, such as “Do you feel like your drug or alcohol use is hurting you?,” “Is there a reason you have begun using drugs or alcohol this way?,” or “Have you considered getting help?”
  • Make it clear that you are willing to help. It is likely that your loved one’s current struggle with alcohol or drugs is related (at least in part) to a personal or mental health issue, and it is, therefore, important to establish up front that you are there to support and encourage them. If your loved one feels you are attacking or unfairly accusing them, they may not be willing to discuss their substance use with you or receive your suggestion that they get help.
  • Strategically choose the time and place. Be careful not to give your loved one an easy out by attempting to bring up their substance use at a crowded event or in a loud place. Try talking to them in your home or in a place where you can have a private conversation without interruptions. This increases the likelihood that your loved one will listen to you and open up to you about the struggles they are facing.

Drug & Alcohol Recovery Programs in Scottsdale

At Acceptance Recovery Center, we provide the kind, compassionate care your loved one needs to get back on track and reclaim control of their life. We understand that drug and alcohol abuse are often intertwined with mental health struggles, personal pain, and emotional trauma, and we are prepared to support them in overcoming their substance use disorder as well as addressing any potential triggers they may have.

We may even be able to help you prepare to speak with your loved one by providing information about our programs and services.

Connect with a member of our team today by calling and learning more about our Scottsdale drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

About Dr. Greg Gale, MD

Dr. Greg Gale has been practicing and providing leadership in the field of psychiatry, substance use, and integrated care in the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 11 years. He joins us from his role as a national medical director overseeing behavioral health, substance use, and integrated care services for Humana Behavioral Health. Previously, he was CMO and VP of Clinical Services at Partners in Recovery, a not-for-profit behavioral health and substance use service organization, which operates five clinics throughout Maricopa County. Read more about Dr. Greg Gale, MD