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How to help a loved one with addiction issues

Starting a compassionate, non-judgmental conversation with a loved one struggling with addiction can help initiate the road to recovery. Sponsored by EvergreenHealth

Addiction impacts millions of people across the country. The compulsive use of substances, like alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs, negatively impacts a person’s health, responsibilities, and social life.  

“Substance use disorder is a disease,” said Eric Britt, director of The Recovery Center at EvergreenHealth Monroe. “It’s a disorder in the brain. It’s not a choice. It’s not a moral failing. People from all backgrounds and walks of life can struggle with addiction.”

If you think you may have a substance use disorder, you can reach out to a healthcare professional specializing in the area, your primary care physician, or a trusted loved one for help and to discuss next steps. 

If you know or suspect a loved one may have addiction issues, it’s important to be intentional in discussion.

  • Choose a time when your loved one is sober and start from a place of compassion and understanding, not accusation.
  • Use “I” statements to describe your own experience and feelings related to their substance use, rather than accusatory “you” statements.
  • Don’t use negative terms like “addict,” “junkie” or “alcoholic.” Remember that substance use disorder is an illness, not an intentional choice.
  • Don’t threaten, give ultimatums or tell your loved one what to do. Threats and accusations may cause them to conceal their substance use further and be reluctant to open up to you.

“It often doesn’t work to reactively jump into a conversation when you’re angry or frustrated,” Britt said. “It puts people on the defensive.” 

It may take several conversations for a loved one to admit there is a problem and seek help. Focus on maintaining patience and building a trusted relationship. 

When you or a loved one are ready to seek care, there are numerous options. Treatment for substance use disorder can include individual or group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, and even medications.

“We really see some incredible people come out of the haze of substance use disorder and go on to do amazing things,” Britt said. 

To learn more about substance use disorder treatment at EvergreenHealth, visit Recovery Center at EvergreenHealth Monroe website.

Sponsored by Evergreen Health. Segment Producer Joseph Suttner. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.

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