At least that’s a true statement when it comes to our website and our Facebook page. The biggest demographic to engage with us is women – ages 45-54 followed by women ages 65 and up. It is not what I expected and I’m curious about what this means.
Are our viewers looking for treatment for themselves or their loved ones? Are they simply interested in the epidemic facing America and trying to learn more about it? If anyone is interested in starting a dialogue with us about this please contact us here or call (877) 636-3996
Assuming that many people are looking for treatment for a loved one – a son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter – I thought it might be useful to suggest a few positive approaches that can be used to help them access treatment.
There is no question that even broaching the topic of addiction with a loved one can be tricky. Such a conversation can often disintegrate into arguments, allegations and perceived judgments with a negative rather than positive outcome.
Although interventions can sometimes work, unless they are facilitated by a professional and attended by several members of family whom the addict respects, often the outcome is not what one would hope.
In contrast, the methodolgy I utilize requires patience and stresses love, guidance and respect, creating a rapport that will open the door to a frank discussion of addiction in the future. Here is the step by step approach that has worked very well for my patients and their families
1) Open the door – to a conversation about addiction by bringing up the topic in a very general way – referring to something addiction-related that has no direct relevance to your relative’s life. For example, if your relative is suffering from opioid addiction you could note all of the celebrities who have died from overdoses in the past year or two.
2) Do Not Judge Others – During the “open the door” conversation refrain from passing judgment on those who are suffering or have suffered with the disease. Show empathy for those individuals, no matter how nasty or egotistical they may be. It is important that your family member knows that you can provide a sympathetic ear when the time is right.
3) Express Your Love – Express in a general way that you would love your relative no matter what – that your love is unconditional. Most addicts make the assumption that their relatives would just abandon them if they knew the truth. This is not accurate in most cases, so it is important that you state this fact here.
4) Express Your Availability – We live in a busy world and we all have lots of responsibilities. Communicate that you are available – that even though you may be busy your relative must know that there is nothing more important to you than family. You can make a joke about being older and wiser – or whatever is necessary to make the addict feel comfortable in bringing his/her problem to you.
That’s it for Round 1. The goal here is to open the door and to keep it open. The hope is that at some time in the next few weeks after that conversation the addict will have the courage to approach you about his/her problem. If, after a month that hasn’t happened, repeat steps 1-4. It may take several repetitions of these steps, but eventually, you will be able to have the next conversation – when you discuss your relative’s personal addiction and make suggestions on how it can be addressed. We will explore that in another blog