Communication With The Individual Suffering From Addiction

Yoga – In Addiction Treatment And Recovery
July 29, 2019
Lies In Addiction
Lies In Addiction
October 3, 2019

Communication With The Individual Suffering From Addiction

Communication With The Individual Suffering From Addiction

Communication With The Individual Suffering From Addiction

In Life we usually connect with about 5 different types of interpersonal communication – Verbal, Non Verbal – gestures, expressions, body language, written and visual.

When any substance use reaches the stage of addiction, the communication of the person addicted to the alcohol/drugs with himself/herself and with those around him especially family, friends, and co-workers gets disturbed and distorted.

The individual struggles to control his/her usage, isolates himself from family and friends. The family without being aware that addiction is a disease and that the individual has become a puppet in the hands of the alcohol/drugs, scold, berate, fight, demean the individual. They also become a puppet to their emotions. The addict makes this communication from the family as an excuse to drink/use. Both are wrong and suffer from this miscommunication. Here the dependent is going around the substance trying to control its usage and the family around him/her trying to control his usage thereby being co-dependent. Unconsciously the family and close friends thus enable the use.

The one addicted also never uses the way they want to use but does not know how to stop and is unable to communicate that he needs help. The family does not know what to say and when to get him to seek help and the communication becomes futile. The family needs to meet a person expert in the field to learn the right kind of communication and the help needed to get the addicted individual into treatment.

The right Communication to the person addicted –

  • The right time to speak is in the morning when you know the person is sober and clean and is in remorse.
  • The right thing to share is what one feels and experiences as a consequence of the other’s drinking/using without blaming and shaming the individual for it.
  • Say that if he thinks he needs help then get him to meet the experiential addiction counselor who can motivate him to come into residential rehabilitation treatment.
  • Once the person comes into the treatment of his own free will, into a non-medical residential facility, then it is primarily through sharing, self-disclosure, writing, meditation and other alternate therapies that would be the apt therapeutic modalities that would get him to understand himself, increase his awareness of self and reach to a stage of not finding the need to use.

When the individual who is addicted comes into treatment it is very essential for the family to come into counseling and receive parallel treatment themselves with the family therapist. It is very important for them to realize through therapy that they are solely responsible for their emotions and the way they feel, it is a choice. This realization and sense of responsibility makes them self- reliant and not emotionally dependent on the person who suffers from addiction.

Therapy for the co-dependent is essential even if the dependent does not come into treatment or recovery. If therapy is not taken, then indirect enabling behaviors continue like

  • Giving money for using when a tantrum is thrown or things are broken in the house.
  • Protecting the loved one from the law when caught for substance use.
  • The co-dependent would be emotionally fine when the dependent is not using and are not fine when the user continues, and they become reactive – mood-altering them resulting in fights that are used as excuses to use.

If therapy is received then :-

  • The enabling behaviors stop as tough love takes its place.
  • It is communicated to the loved one using that they are loved and accepted but their addiction is not accepted and they need to seek help to treat it.
  • The right communication is learnt , when to speak , what to speak to create unmanageability to push the individual to seek help.
  • Emotional detachment and balance helps.

The communication After the loved one comes back home after the right treatment- It is very natural at this time for the co-dependent to feel that this individual who was an absentee father/mother, an absentee son/daughter, an absentee husband/wife suddenly wants to take on and participate in all these roles. It takes time for the co-dependent family to accept and acknowledge this apparent sudden shift in paradigm. It is not easy for them than to leave their control over the house, the children, the business, over the finances. This is due to their past experiences with the individual when they were drinking and using. If they have not received help and worse if they have not accepted help for themselves, the spouse, parent, or children of the dependent continue to look at the addict who is now in recovery with “ old eyes”. the past is brought up frequently and thrown at them in arguments and conversations.

Expectations also increase with the person back home as though going to the rehab has been a miracle turning point and everything will now be fine. Far from reality. The actual life issues surface and are and have to be faced head-on with emotional stability.

It has to be understood by the one who has received help for his addiction that his recovery is not dependent on the support or lack of support from the family and loved ones.

The right communication post treatment-

  • Do not throw the past at each other’s face.
  • Face a fresh issue as a fresh one.
  • As Dr Jerajani says – Stop Comparing, Criticizing, Complaining and Questioning each other- what remains is only the doorway to communication.
  • Let the language change to that of sharing , being transparent and honest.

However, the above is truly possible only when the spouse, the family are willing to and work on themselves too as much as the person addicted to the substance does, with the writing, the counseling, and the meditations.

Building up and bridging relationships are enabled by the professional experiential counselors through self-disclosure. Having a family intervention with the counselors after about 4 weeks of residential stay of the dependent in the treatment facility is extremely important so that issues in the relationships can be faced and dealt with and solutions arrived at in a conducive environment.

When the Individual in residential treatment and the co-dependent become self-reliant individuals then they can meet on a common platform of friendliness and compassion-dysfunctionalities dwindle away and a life that is truly fulfilling beyond drinking and using surfaces. This is a process and requires patience, effort, and compassion between all parties involved.


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