There are different approaches to dealing with someone who is suffering from addiction. Whether gentle or tough, the point is to make the message of recovery as loud as possible. Every individual is different, so their responses will always be unique.
The First Option
Just mentioning drug abuse treatment is a positive first approach for a recovery conversation. There are too many aggressive conversations where people simply tell an addict to stop. Along with telling them to stop using, the person will threaten the addict with consequences. Throughout the entire conversation, actual treatment is mentioned only as an afterthought. When you put emphasis on treatment from the beginning of the conversation, then it’s easier to validate the rest of your concerns. The first sentence of your interaction should always start by acknowledging the problem, promising support, and a clear path to the solution.
The Second Option
When going to a treatment program is denied, it is time to take a long look at personal relationships. Is the addict married? Do they have children? It’s easy to destroy things when you don’t have to look directly into their eyes. The second option is an intervention, or even multiple interventions. Being able to stage an intervention is a good thing since it shows that there are loving people in an addict’s personal circle. When these people are willing to put a face to the harm that the addict is causing, it shows how personal their stake is in the process.
When the first and second options fail, tough love becomes an unfortunate reality. For starters, there is no clear-cut way to handle a tough love conversation with an addict. Every interaction will be different as no two situations are alike. But here is a random example of a tough love approach with an addict who was married with children.
Stella is a stay-at-home wife with two children. Her husband is Paul, who is currently suffering from alcohol addiction for over ten years. Paul is the main breadwinner but has been exceedingly absent from both work and his personal life. Stella has confronted Paul multiple times about their dwindling finances and how hard his drinking habits are on the children. After multiple failed interventions, Stella draws a line in the sand that will serve as a wake-up call to her husband. He will either join a drug abuse program, or she will divorce him and take full custody of the kids.
The big takeaway here is that Stella is not making an idle threat. She has already contacted an attorney and has a job sourced so that she is fully prepared to move forward without Paul. Being able to add weight to your tough love approach is what makes this conversation so vital. Stella put it all on the line and was ready to react if Paul gave the wrong answer. At this point, it is completely up to Paul to face his demons or lose everything of value in his life.
This is what an effective tough-love conversation looks like. Because in the end, no matter what is said, the real work starts when the addict accepts that there are consequences to their actions.
Offer The Right Help
Before you cut deep, make sure that the message being delivered is clear. Tough love without a solution is just yelling at a defenseless victim. But no matter what approach you settle with, breaking the addiction cycle will always take a lot of patience.