How to Approach the Family Next Door That Seems to Be Struggling with Addiction

Contributed by: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

Addiction is a reality that many people face on a daily basis. Whether there is someone in your immediate family or circle of friends that has struggled with addiction, you have likely encountered the damaging effects of substance abuse.

Even beyond your immediate circle, addictions impact countless individuals in our surrounding neighborhoods, towns, and cities. If addiction is not directly impacting us, you may see the ramifications in close proximity. Reading the daily news will often reveal tragedies that occur every day that involve drug and alcohol abuse.

Is It Something You Are Able to Bring Up?

What if you notice that a close friend or neighbor appears to be struggling with an addiction? How can you approach someone you care for about a topic that is very sensitive and touchy?
Perhaps one of the most important techniques for approaching someone you care about is to do so in love and out of concern.

You may be one of the first people that have noticed addictive habits in your neighbor or friend or one of the few that have taken the time to confront this person about their behaviors. Whatever the situation, it is vital that your communication be loving, non-judgmental, and gentle.

While you cannot predict the outcome of your discussion, people are more likely to respond when you are coming from a place of care and concern.

Finding a Comfortable, Secure Environment

If you are also hoping to have a discussion with a neighbor or friend and confront them about your concerns, be sure to do so in an environment that is comfortable and relaxing for you both. Try to arrange this ahead of time so as to avoid stressful situations that will only make your conversation more difficult.

By discussing your concerns in a calming, relaxing environment, it may be easier for this person to receive what you are saying.

Preparing Ahead of the Conversation

Lastly, it is essential to have some resources prepared ahead of time. Be ready to help connect your friend or neighbor to professional resources that can better assist them through the issues or concerns they are facing. It is important to understand that as their friend, it is not your job or duty to try to “fix” them.

Addictions are complex diseases that require professional assistance to overcome and are not situations that should be handled lightly. Have a couple referral sources ready to share with them, such as a support group or the name and number of an addiction specialist. Sharing these resources may help them take the step they need to connect to treatment.

Even as a neighbor, you have the ability to make a positive impact in the lives of those who are closest to you. Remember that addiction recovery and hope is possible with the right resources and treatment.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you approached a neighbor or friend to help provide support for their addiction? What did you find helpful to include in your discussion, what changes would you make for next time?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 5th, 2014
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