How to Confront an Addict
I work here at Addiction Campuses as a Treatment Specialist. I am the person who takes the calls all day and night from people who are calling about their loved ones. All day and night I talk to moms, dads, grandmothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, and also good friends about what they need to do to help the person that they can see is dying a slow death, right before their eyes.
And even though these people have finally gotten themselves to the point that they realize they needed to call an expert for help, and even though I tell them that I am trained to identify and place people in the proper treatment programs so that they can live addiction-free, and even though they are staring addiction square in the face through the eyes of their loved one – they still don’t want to believe it.
I don’t blame them. My Mother didn’t want to believe it either. After countless arguments, ultimatums, threats, lies, tears and more arguments, ultimatums, threats, lies and tears – she insisted on me contacting a treatment specialist to get me into the right treatment program.
It worked and I’ve been sober for 11 years.
How did she do it? That’s what I want to talk to you about today. I’m going to share with you my list of frequently asked questions that I get when I take calls from concerned, stressed and trusting family members and friends of the person in the throes of addiction.
1. I’m afraid to confront the person I love about their drug problem. What will happen?
Fear often paralyzes us from taking action and has a crazy way of making us hide our heads in the sand. We find ourselves wishing that the problem will go away magically. We tell ourselves that our loved one will come back to us on their own.
It takes courage to help the person you love. It is my intention to empower you. My plan is to educate you about this disease. I believe that it is only by educating ourselves about a problem, do we gain hope. It is only by standing in the light that we escape from the darkness of addiction.
I can’t tell you exactly what will happen when you confront your loved one. But I can tell you what will happen if you don’t. They will lose everything they love and then they will die. I know that is the worst thing to hear. I’m sorry to say that it’s true.
2. What if I’m overreacting and she really isn’t using drugs?
Then I guess you made a mistake. Are you perfect and not allowed to do that? Look – you’re no dummy. You’re calling me because you already know that she is using drugs. You are just hoping I’ll tell you she isn’t.
I am not going to do that.
Let’s first take a look at some of the basic signs of addictions. We can do this by exploring this person’s daily behaviors. Many times we can be so blinded by love for someone that we can’t see reality. Take a moment and ask yourself what a normal person does with their money. Now think about what she is doing with hers. Are the utility bills being paid? Are you constantly lending money to her for some reason or another? How many times have you bailed her out of jail? Why is she taking off in the middle of the night? Is she jittery? Have your belongings gone missing?
When people are struggling with addiction their behaviors are out of the ordinary. Behaviors and excuses do not add up. They disappear for days. You find your belongings are disappearing too. You begin to live around the excuses and do things like hide your purse or wallet.
My mother doesn’t hide her purse. Where are you hiding yours?
3. When I try to speak to him about drinking he gets really angry. Why? What can I do?
This kind of reaction is normal for a person that is caught up in their disease. And it is how an addict deflects responsibility for the problem. All addicts when confronted react negatively. They point the finger at everyone else and attack. It’s not uncommon for an addict to feel cornered and come out swinging. They come after you and loudly so in an effort to bring this confrontation quickly to an end. This is their effort to punish you for even starting the conversation.
I often tell my clients to confront with love. Talk to him from a place of kindness and concern. Start off by explaining to him about how much you love him. Tell him how much you miss him. It is very hard for a person to stay angry when you’re coming from a place of love and compassion. Don’t point fingers, it will only make him point his at you. Tell your husband that you’re afraid for his safety when he drives home from the bar intoxicated. Be honest and tell him that you’re afraid for him to pick up the kids from daycare. When you shine light on your fears, it makes them a little easier to talk about.
4. What if I confront my daughter and she gets mad and never speaks to me again?
What if you don’t and she dies? Which is the better option?
I speak to parents and spouses all of the time who afraid to confront their addict for this very reason. The bottom line is, by not confronting your addict you are helping her sign her death certificate.
It is far better to have your daughter angry with you and in treatment, than to come home and find her dead from an overdose under your roof. Death is final. No chances after that.
I know for a fact that you will never forgive yourself for not trying harder to get her help. Burying a child is something a parent should never have to do. It’s unnatural.
She may get mad to the point that she’s not on speaking terms with you during her first few weeks in treatment.
But she’s alive isn’t she?
5. I can’t kick him out, he has nowhere to go. He will be on the street! Right?
Wrong. He has a place to go. He can come to treatment.
Face it, your son is already on the street. Where do you think he’s getting his drugs? He isn’t driving to nice neighborhoods and getting heroin from the milk man. He is obtaining illegal drugs from dangerous people and bringing those illegal drugs into your home to get high.
Giving him the option of going into treatment and being accountable is saving his life. When you confront your son lay down those hard boundaries. You have to be stronger than the addiction. If you’re not, it will win – every single time.
And you can win. When my mother stopped letting me in the house when I was drunk, she was saving my life. She made it clear to me that she wasn’t going to watch me kill myself anymore. I could drink all I wanted to, but I was NOT going to do it in front of her anymore. By being stronger than my addiction – my mother was saving my life.
Does this sound like it was an easy thing to do? It wasn’t. And it won’t be for you, either. But it’s necessary. Stop hoping that you’re wrong about what you see right in front of you. It is time for you to be stronger than the addiction by confronting it head on.
This is the only way to empower yourself and save the life of your loved one.
Don’t be afraid to reach out – you never know how amazing it can be,