Addiction is a struggle. It is physical and mental dependence on a substance. Quitting isn’t easy, and people often have to seek professional treatment to cure themselves of their addictions. Because addiction affects the body as well as the brain, addicts and recovering addicts need to be shown compassion and understanding from their family members and friends when they are battling addiction. It is important that their loved ones know the right things to say and don’t speak rashly when dealing with them. There are a few common phrases that should be avoided when speaking to someone struggling with addiction.
“If You Wanted to Stop, You Could”
This phrase is thrown around a lot. It is sometimes said carelessly when an individual is making light of another’s addiction or when he is emotional and seriously wants his loved one to change his life.
People understand how strong willpower is, and they feel that if a person really wanted to change his life, he could do so very easily by making the choice. Unfortunately, quitting an item to which you are literally addicted is not easy; it isn’t as simple as denying yourself a cupcake when you have a sweet tooth. An addict’s cravings are intense, and he usually feels justified doing whatever it takes to get that drug because he wants to free himself from those intense, strong, sharp cravings and from the unpleasant feeling of withdrawal.
“You’re Being Selfish and Only Thinking of Yourself”
It is easy to call a drug user selfish when you or your loved ones are being hurt by his actions, but remember that you are on the outside looking in, and you don’t know how hard addiction can be unless you’ve battled it, yourself.
Addiction can be a sad, lonely place. Though many of them don’t verbalize it, the majority of addicts are depressed and want to improve their lives. They feel guilty about hurting their family emotionally and financially and don’t like the fact the fact that drugs are a stronghold over their lives.
Instead of only thinking of the ways they’re hurting you or others, think of ways that could encourage them. Don’t enable addicts or those in recovery, but give them heaping doses of love, encouragement, and support.
“Once an Addict, Always an Addict.”
These words are meant to sound negative and are spoken by individuals who want recovering addicts to relapse. Never speak these words. Words have power. Even though your speaking them probably won’t instantly make them get up from their seat and take another hit or another drink, words hurt and take root.
Remember that addicts are human just like the rest of us, and the rough patches of their journeys in life aren’t over just because they put the bottle down or stopped doing drugs. They could still feel depressed, beat down, or overwhelmed by situations that arise in life. When they start feeling these sad feelings, you don’t want the first thoughts that pop into their heads to be the negative words you spoke over them. Negative words, coupled with hard times, could tempt most people to relapse. Choose to uplift people and to help them stay motivated; you are a powerful part of their recovery.
Understanding that your loved one has a problem and that he, himself, isn’t the problem is the first step in helping him on his path to recovery. Remember to be honest with addicts, but speak to them in a way that you’d want to be spoken to if you were dealing with something as difficult and traumatic as addiction. Love and compassion go a long way.