Talking to a Loved One About Treatment

Cottonwood Tucson

Starting a Conversation

When someone you love suffers from drug or alcohol use disorder, it’s common to have feelings of helplessness, anger, fear, worry, frustration, and grief. You might also be exhausted managing concerns about their wellbeing and dealing with frequent challenges induced by their behaviors. Nevertheless, if their actions continually cause harm to themselves, you, or other people, you have a right to speak up.

The best time to talk to a loved one about getting treatment is now, whether they’re a partner, child, parent, or close friend. Maybe you’ve tried to before and the experience was fraught with defensiveness, arguments, and hard feelings—or promises that never materialized.

Deep down, you believe they’re capable of effective, positive change. We do, too. Our experts offer these tips to start a conversation about treatment.

Take Time to Plan

First, gather supportive friends and family together to discuss various aspects of your loved one’s health and actions and develop a strategy for encouraging professional treatment. In some situations, people seek additional help from an interventionist, physician, substance use disorder or mental health counselor, or spiritual advisor.

Next, outline what you’d like to say. It’s quite possible the individual will have some resistance to or denial about rehabilitation, so it’s crucial to have time to settle your emotions and prepare some key points to cover so everyone stays calm.

Finally, determine your intentions. You want them to get the care they need—what if they refuse? What boundaries or consequences are you willing to establish until they do? This isn’t about setting ultimatums, but there must be clear communication about moving forward, one way or another. You may want to role play with someone first so you feel comfortable directing the discussion.

Arrange for a Quiet Time & Approach

Choose a time and place that allows you to have a private conversation, without interruptions. Your feelings and concerns are valid, but how you broach the topic of treatment with your loved one requires some finesse with both verbal and physical language.

Demonstrate how much you value this person—remind them how much you love and support them. Use “I” statements to express your concerns about actions and behaviors. For example:

  • “I’m worried about your health issues, and would like to talk about them.”
  • “I feel anxious when you don’t come home. Help me understand what’s happening in your life.”
  • “It seems we’re having trouble paying bills on time and managing money. Why are we having these problems?”
  • “I’m concerned about the behavior displayed at Mom’s party. It seemed like you were drinking too much/using drugs. Why is that?”

How you present yourself matters, too. Speak softly, sit close to provide reassurance, and keep your body open—no crossed arms, looking away, or pointing fingers.

Finally, ask directly if they’re willing to seek treatment. This is important, because it sets in motion all the next steps of your intentions.

How Cottonwood Tucson Can Help

Starting the healing process right away is essential, and we’re ready to help you with the Cottonwood Assessment Program. This five-day evaluation by our multidisciplinary team of substance use disorder professionals provides assurance for you and your partner, child, parent, or dear friend.

We focus our attention on an individual’s needs through specialized medical assessments and whole person consultations. If your loved one agrees to just five days, it might be the beginning of a lifetime of wellness.

You’ve come this far alone—now let us take over. Contact our admissions team today.

Begin Your New Life in Recovery Today.

Let Us Help You Get Started.
CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities NATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs NAADAC newsweek