How To Be Human With Addiction: 7 Ways To Talk And Speak To Someone Struggling

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We got down with Frances Murchison, a recovery coach and interventionist who has been sober for over 30 years, for advice on how to communicate to a friend who is battling with substance use disorder.

She reminds us that there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for SUD, nor is there a comprehensive guide to helping a friend who is struggling with addiction.

Having said that, there is a universal value in being deliberate with our language.

While Murchison emphasizes the importance of obtaining professional treatment, she does provide a structure for these discussions. So let’s find them out here.

How To Help Someone In Recovery?

  1. Attend family counseling and let your emotions out. This will help them understand how their addiction impacts the people around them.
  2. Once the blackout period is removed, you will most likely be able to communicate with your loved ones. Choose a communication method that works for both of you.
  3. It’s one thing to say you’re there for your loved one, but proper support extends beyond that. Talk about the future and your loved one’s improvement in a positive light.
  4. It’s critical to preserve trust during the Recovery process. So, help your loved ones commit to the process, and have faith in them. You can also try Infinite Recovery today if you need more insight on this.

7 Ways To Talk To Someone Struggling With An Addiction

When we speak with compassion, understanding, and love rather than prescriptiveness, blame, or guilt, we improve ourselves in every situation. There are a few such techniques that we have illustrated here for you to help to talk to someone who is struggling with addiction.

Let’s take a look:

1: Be Compassionate

Addiction is a medical condition. Usually, we would not blame someone suffering from a medical ailment such as diabetes or cancer; instead, we would be compassionate and willing to assist them in overcoming their illness.

The same compassion and empathy should be shown to addiction.

Recognize that addiction is a sickness, not a character fault or a choice.

It’s also important to recognize those external circumstances, such as stress or mental illness, which can increase addiction. Addiction is frequently used as a stress coping method, bringing brief comfort. So, be compassionate towards them.

2: Don’t Criticize

As it’s easier to understand a problem if we know where it came from, human nature sometimes pushes us to transfer responsibility.

However, because the causes of addictions are rarely black and white, there is never just one thing to blame. Most essential, the addiction patient is not to blame for his addiction.

Avoid hinting or outright blaming your loved one for their addiction.

Shaming or insulting a family member who is suffering from an alcohol or opioid addiction can be detrimental to their recovery.

3: Don’t Enable Them

There’s a narrow line between assisting and enabling someone with an addiction.

When we think we’re shielding a loved one from the consequences of their addiction, we’re actually allowing them to engage in potentially harmful conduct.

If you’re attempting to figure out how to help an alcoholic, preventing them from drinking and driving is beneficial because it puts them and others at risk.

Consistently offering to drive them home if they become too intoxicated, on the other hand, supports their behavior since it establishes a pattern in which you are always available to save them.

4: Don’t Violate Their Privacy

When going to therapy, you should be as open as possible about your feelings, but you should also respect their privacy.

This is especially true when talking to friends or relatives about someone who has an addiction.

Make sure the person feels comfortable with their problems and issues being discussed. For example, if you go to counseling with a loved one, make sure you don’t tell anybody else what was stated in the session.

Respect your loved one’s wishes if he goes to therapy or counseling on their own and doesn’t want to talk about the session.

5: Give Them Hope

Without a doubt, the most effective technique in your interactions will be giving them hope.

It takes strength, perseverance, and optimism to live a sober life.

Murchison advises providing specific cases once more: When was the last time you saw your friend be brave? When was the last time you saw grit?

These recollections should give him hope and remind her that he may return to her genuine self. He will be fine once he finds out that he can be brave and find that inner strength to channel his commitment to recovery.

6: Ask For Their Suggestions

According to Murchison, you should adapt this query a little bit.

Try something like this: How can I assist you in your recovery?

This allows your buddy to communicate freely while also holding her accountable for her determination to overcome the obstacles he faces.

If he wants to go for a run, prepare his workout meals; if he wants you to accompany him to the therapist, go with him. In short, be there beside him in any way he needs.

7: Stay With Them

People who suffer from SUD frequently turn to substances to dull emotions of isolation and trauma, so it’s critical to begin the dialogue with your presence and without passing judgment.

The issue, according to Murchison, is to do so while maintaining boundaries.

As family or friends, we run the risk of accidentally taking on the role of therapist, counselor, and cheerleader.

Set boundaries for yourself and understand your emotional bandwidth to practice self-care. One meal, two-morning walks, and one hour-long phone chat decide to interact once a week.


When your loved one begins therapy, it’s the ideal moment for you to concentrate on your recovery.

Reach out to folks who are in similar situations to you to form support groups. If you’re blaming your loved one for their addiction and how it’s affecting your life, talk to a therapist about how to work through your feelings in a healthy way.

You will eventually be asked to participate in your loved one’s recovery. So, if you need more information, reach us in the comment box below.


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