Sometimes it is hard to know where to start when you are concerned about a loved one and their substance use, especially how to start and have a conversation with them about their use. Here are some tips we have put together which may make having that conservation a little easier.
Stay Calm – when talking to a loved one about their substance use it can often be a very emotive subject and they may become defensive and angry. Stay calm in order to reduce the conversation escalating into an argument. It is very difficult to argue with a calm person.
Time – choose a time that is good for both of you. If they are intoxicated or have had a bad day this may not be the best time to talk about their substance use. Choose a time when you are both calm and don’t have any distractions around so you can have a meaningful conversation.
Listen – it is important to allow your loved one to talk – that is the whole point of a conversation. Listen carefully to what they are saying and don’t interrupt.
Don’t be judgmental – your loved one probably knows that their substance use is having an impact on the people around them and often feel a great sense of guilt and shame. You may not agree with their actions but try not to judge or accuse them as they probably already feel judged by the people around them and may become defensive.
Ask open questions – ask questions where it is difficult to give one word answers. This can help a conversation flow and avoids an easy “yes” or “no” answer.
Positives – your loved one is probably very aware of all the negative things they may be doing. Try and let them know of the positives they are doing. Everyone likes to know when they are doing something good and it encourages us to keep doing that positive thing.
Knowledge – research information on drugs and alcohol. It may help you understand some of their behaviours and recognise when they are intoxicated and what support is available.
Get support – Barod offer support for loved ones who may be concerned or affected by someone else’s drug or alcohol use as well as support for loved ones who are using substances.
Sometimes a loved one may not be ready to have a conversation about their substance use. It is important to let them know you are there and ready to have that conversation. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t wish to talk about their substance use straight away, the fact you have approached the subject in a non judgmental and supportive way shows them you care.
WATCH our short video on how to start a conversation with loved one, regarding their alcohol use, here.