Your sister, brother or another family member has not been themselves lately. You worry that drugs are affecting their behavior, moods, and habits. Many people are afraid of bringing up the subject of drugs for fear of angering their loved one or making the situation worse.
Your family member is lucky to have someone like you who cares and has noticed the unusual changes that have taken place over the past several weeks or months. You may wonder if there is a problem, or if perhaps you’re overreacting. Narcotic Anonymous has a self-test about drug addiction you can go through as a first step.
However uncomfortable you may feel about bringing up the topic of drug abuse, having an open discussion is a vital first step in acknowledging there is a problem. The key to having a productive discussion is to remain calm, positive, supportive and open-minded to encourage your loved one to open up. Here are three crucial questions to bring up during your conversation.
#1: “How have you been feeling lately?”
You could start off by asking this simple question. Say that you’ve noticed a change in his or her behavior and that you’re concerned. Your family member may open up and share his or her feelings, or even let you know of a significant event that has happened recently you weren’t aware of. Or, your loved one may brush off your concerns and become defensive. State specific behaviors you’ve noticed such as poor eating and sleeping habits, moodiness and lack of interest in hobbies or friends.
Starting the discussion by asking about his or her feelings helps to broach the topic of drug use and lead to the next question.
#2: “What are some of the good aspects of your drug use? What are some of the bad?”
Avoid asking questions such as, “Do you have a problem with drugs?” These types of questions make people defensive and tend to shut down conversations. Instead, try asking about some of the positive aspects as well as the negative consequences of drug use. It’s a good starting point if your loved one realizes some of the bad aspects of drug use and how it affects those around them. If you have a history of drug abuse in the family, now would be a good time to bring it up.
#3: “Do you want help?”
Your loved one may have already considered or even tried reducing his or her drug use. Encourage this positive behavior and remain supportive. Do some research about local inpatient or outpatient rehab clinics and offer information about various programs if the opportunity arises. Ask your family member, “What can I do to help? I’d like to see you get back to your old self.”
Overcoming drug abuse can’t be done alone. By remaining compassionate and positive throughout your loved one’s ordeal, you are a beacon of support and hope.