General Health: How Do I Talk to a Loved One About Their Substance Use Disorder—And How Do I Get Them to Seek Help?

General Health: How Do I Talk to a Loved One About Their Substance Use Disorder—And How Do I Get Them to Seek Help?

Getting a loved one to seek help for their substance use disorder can be hard. You may feel alone and that you have no one who can help you, but this isn’t true. Your loved one can recover with the help of professional treatment, and you can get them to seek this help by talking to them one-on-one or by staging an intervention.

Talking to Your Loved One

According to Healthline, some individuals will find talking to a person one-on-one less intimidating than having to deal with an intervention. When you talk to your loved one, here are some points you can utilize:

  • Make sure to use “I” statements, such as “I feel…” or “I am worried because…” This will prevent you from using accusatory language that might upset your loved one.
  • Always stay calm. If you think you’re going to get upset, you may need to walk away and revisit the conversation at a later time.
  • Tell your loved one that you will support them if they decide to seek treatment and that you will help them in whatever way you can.


Some individuals feel that they would not be safe or comfortable bringing up the issue of substance abuse one-on-one, and in other cases, such a conversation is not successful. If this is your situation, you may want to consider staging an intervention.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is a meeting with multiple people who discuss their concern about an addicted individual they all care about and who try to convince the individual to seek treatment. Interventions can often be a highly successful way of getting an addicted person to realize the severity of their substance abuse and to get them to find help.

How Do I Stage an Intervention?

There are several steps you should follow when staging an intervention.

  • Think about whom you should invite to participate in the intervention. It is best to choose about 6 people and to make sure they will all be able to stay calm during the meeting. If someone wants to be involved but does not believe they will be able to stay calm, they can write a letter that can be read by someone else at the meeting.
  • Make sure everyone writes down what they want to say and that they only say what is written when they talk to the addict. This will minimize the possibility that people will say negative things or things they don’t really mean.
  • According to Intervention Support, many people meet with a professional interventionist and receive tips from them. The interventionist can also attend the intervention itself in order to keep everyone involved on track and to also show the addict the severity of the situation.
  • Meet before the actual intervention so everyone knows what everyone else is going to say. You can even practice the intervention beforehand in order to be as prepared as possible.


If Your Loved One Says Yes to Treatment…

Make sure you have a treatment program set up for them before you even have the conversation or stage the intervention. This way, if your loved one agrees to seeking help, they will be able to start treatment right away, rather than to make up another excuse between this time and the time in which you are able to find a treatment program.

Then, you must always show your support to the individual in any way you are able: by visiting them in treatment, talking to them about their recovery, etc. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, having the support of family members and friends during rehab highly benefits recovering addicts and extends treatment benefits.

If Your Loved One Refuses Treatment…

It is important to let them know there will be consequences. If you are currently giving them money or letting them live with you, you may decide to stop doing so. You may also promise to no longer drink or use with them or any number of other consequences. This is meant to show them they will not have your support if they don’t seek help. And you can always try again at a time when you think they will be more willing to listen.

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