How to Interact with an Addicted Loved One
There is a lot of focus in recovery groups or centers, such as Rehab Carolinas, about building communication skills. When there is an opportunity for the family to work together, you can help your loved one by learning how to interact with them from the start. Imagine a slate wiped clean and you’ll both be in a better place to begin communicating again. Of course, imagining a clean slate doesn’t mean that the years of hurt and mistrust go away. However, you can use those experiences to navigate the choppy waters of communication.
Creating Positivity in Your Communication
Negativity can ruin otherwise healthy relationships. Regardless of whether the person struggling with addiction in your life is a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend, you can create positivity within your communications.
When you begin to interact with your recovering loved one to see it as learning a new language, not only will it be a challenge, but you can reap many benefits from the experience. You’re learning to increase your emotional intelligence, stretch your communication abilities, and perceive the actions of another through a new lens.
To get started, to keep these things in mind:
- Set boundaries. Neither you nor the person in recovery has to talk about everything.
- Promote honesty and be the first, to tell the truth about what you think and how you feel.
- Practice attentive listening as this helps recovering people build self-awareness and self-esteem in their communication skills.
Obstacles to Overcome
It’s easy to fall back on old habits, past experiences, or ongoing struggles. When interacting with someone you care for but who suffers from addiction, it may be easy to experience any range of emotions.
Perfectionism is a constant struggle for both parties. Many sober people will feel that they have to set the model example and show how great sober life is for the other person in their life. You may feel pressured to play the ‘super parent’ or be an all-star spouse. Stretching yourself too thin can weaken the threads of communication as you’re depicting an imaginary scenario of everyday sober life.
On the other hand, a person in recovery will often feel that they have to be perfect to make up for years of lying or other faults. When working with someone who has struggled with drug or alcohol addiction ensure that you acknowledge mistakes and then move on without dwelling on the impact of the misstep.
Another obstacle that comes up is passivity. When communicating or interacting with a recovering person don’t allow deep-set anger to take over your conversation subtly. If you are not ready to face this person or need to work on the resentment that you’re harboring seek help. Counseling is often available for family members to help them overcome issues that are a result of addiction.
Invoke the Power of Empathy
In most recovery programs, the power of empathy is a focal point. Often people who experience debilitating addiction have an apparent disassociation between themselves and others. Understanding is often one of the first abilities to go when dependence sets in, and that means that recovering addicts spend years rebuilding it.
You can invoke empathy and help restore deficits in the conversation by sharing stories and providing feedback. Indeed, you may not truly understand what addiction feels like internally. But no doubt you can know that your hardships and challenges in life are reflective on obstacles that they have experienced.
When interacting with someone in recovery, take time to try and understand their thought process genuinely. Note that it’s not the ‘normal’ thought process for you and put effort into adapting your logic to fit the mindset of an addict.
An Ongoing Give and Take
Communication and interaction are never one way. However, it may seem that interacting with a recovering drug addict is often giving and no receiving. If you feel that there’s nothing, you’re gaining from this interaction you should consider counseling.
Talk to the person in your life about attending group or family counseling with them. Many twelve-step programs will also welcome close family and friends into meetings as they can contribute to the conversation with their own stories and insight.
Ensure that every communication is about a more significant relationship. You can have everyday conversations that seem to be about nothing at all but help to rebuild trust, and confidence in each other.
If you’re interested in counseling or help with addiction contact the Rehab Carolinas center, you and your family can get the help necessary to initiate meaningful communication and make interactions more positive.