Admitting you have a problem with drugs or alcohol is one of the hardest things to do. It means admitting that you have made mistakes and that you’re aware of it. It may mean losing friends, jobs, housing and starting life over. Furthermore, talking about your addiction now means you are expected to do something about it. Loved ones will be looking to you to get into treatment and to begin to live a completely sober life. With change comes responsibility, expectations, and vulnerability. Also, it can be hard to admit that we need help, regardless of the circumstances or struggles. Addiction can be an isolating disease which makes reaching out difficult and scary. The feeling of being alone and misunderstood can be overwhelming and often times does prevent individuals from asking for help.
The U.S has recently woken up to the seriousness of alcohol and drug addiction and started recognizing addiction as a disease. Until the stigma associated with an alcohol and drug addiction is erased, being open and vocal may prove to be emotionally trying for some. It’s not enough that we must deal with our own demons, we must also deal with a society that at times make us feel like demons.
It may seem as though there are many reasons to avoid coming clean to loved ones, friends, or family about an alcohol or drug addiction. However, there are so many MORE reasons to have the conversation.
Coming clean about your addiction means you can finally begin working on any physical and/or mental health needs you may have neglected. If you’re coming clean to loved ones, family or friends you can begin to talk about what’s been going on in your life, reduce your isolation and receive perhaps the much-needed support you’ve been searching for. Furthermore, your sober and safe support systems can assist you in finding and securing treatment where you can learn healthy ways to cope and manage emotions. Many report that coming clean about their addictions and getting treatment allowed them to repair broken relationships, advance their careers and improve their well-being. Overall, you can finally start to live the life that you so deserve to live.
When you are ready to talk to your family, friends, loved ones, or others the following tips may help you navigate the discussion:
- Just Say It: Unless you’re living far away from your family, friends or loved ones it’s likely your addiction will come as no surprise. Even if they’ve reached out to help you before, it’s important to again state that you have a problem.
- Be Honest: If you don’t know where to start, start with the truth. This is not to say that you need to get into every detail of your alcohol or drug use but being honest about your relapse warning signs, triggers and relapse prevention plan can help loved ones hold you accountable. Additionally, admitting to the severity of the addiction will help your loved ones to understand how to better help and support you.
- Take Accountability: Part of being honest is owning up to mistakes and taking responsibility for the decisions you have made that led you here today. One of the most important things to do to convince your loved ones your serious, is to admit your mistakes without placing blame on others.
- Give Loved One’s Space: Loved ones may need some time to let the information sink in and figure out what this news means for them. It is important not to rush loved ones at this time, ust as you wouldn’t want them to rush you. Let them work through this at their own pace.
- Discuss Plans: Share your treatment plans with your loved ones throughout your recovery. Including loved ones in your treatment can help you stay strong if you feel like giving up. Sharing plans also helps your loved ones hold you accountable if you start straying from your goals. If you’re unsure of where to start with getting help, share that with them too.
- Encourage Your Family to Get Help and Support Too: It is important for your loved ones to find a good support system that they can turn to when they need to. What better time to encourage them to seek help as well!
Keep in mind there is a good chance your loved ones are aware that something is amiss. They may not know exactly what you are struggling with or the severity, but chances are your struggles have not gone unnoticed. They may be afraid to broach the subject, or they may not feel comfortable asking you about their concerns. In fact, those close to you may be waiting for you to come to them.
It’s worth stating that before coming clean to your loved ones about your addiction, you must first come clean to yourself. When you can accept you have an addiction and are willing to get help, you are now one step closer to a better life of your own. Your better life can include improved overall health, healthier habits and repaired relationships. You can exercise, eat healthy food and be part of society again. The people in your world can begin to rely on you to keep your commitments, and you can begin to feel more confident about yourself. Not only will you be a better person, but you will also feel better about yourself, and your self-esteem will start to improve.
Taking that first step can be daunting, but it’s so worth it.
Author: Beth Grady, LAC – Footprints to Recovery – Intake Clinician Arizona