How to confront someone who is in denial about an addiction?
Confronting some one with an addciton.
Addictions cause people to behave in ways that they normally wouldn't. Whether it is drug addiction, alcoholism, sex addiction or any other addictive behaviour, it eventually causes harm and distress to family friends. Watching someone you love in the throes of an addiction is devastating.When thinking about confronting someone with an addiction there are some very important points to keep in mind.
1. Think about why you want to confront this person now. What outcome would you like to achieve. You probably want the person to stop their behaviour but you cannot make them do that. That is up to them.
2. What part of their addiction is causing you the most distress. Be specific. Is it violence, theft, illness, money, sexual behaviour, verbal abuse or other problems. You may be worried they will harm themselves. You may be worried about the effect on children.
3.Write down how their addiction has affected you. It might include: worry, illness, loss of income, legal problems, loss of friends and family, depression, fear, loss of trust and others.
4. Think carefully about what you will and won't accept in the future in this relationship. If you can't carry through with what you ask for then there is no point in stating your requests. Some ideas might be 'if you continue to do .... I will (leave you, move out, divorce you, have separate bank accounts, not spend time with you when you are drunk / stoned etc"
5. Think through how the person is likely to react to your confrontation based on their past behaviour. Most people do not like to be reminded of their problems. Chances are they know deep down they are out of control but are not ready to admit it. will they get angry or break down? Is there a risk of self harm if they are distressed? They may blame you for their problem.
6. The goal of confronting someone in denial about their addiction is for you to express your concern, your feelings and state what you will and will not accept in the relationship in the future. You cannot make someone stop being addicted so don't make the situation worse by thinking you can. Addiction is a serious medical and psychological problem that this person needs professional help with.
7. Choose a time when they are most coherent and least under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Don't confront someone in a group setting, It is more likely to result in them denying the problem even more. Don't confront them if there is any risk of violence.
8. Use "I" statements not "you' statements. Don't criticise or name call, verbal abuse won't help. State how you feel, how their addiction affects you and what you want to change. Here is one examples of how to get started.
"I feel really upset that you are using drugs/ drinking/ using pornography/ gambling as much as you do. I am worried sick about you and I am angry that your behaviour is affecting me and our relationship.
When you drink/ drug/ act out you treat me badly, you become angry and abusive and I feel scared, lonely and angry with you. I am angry that you have taken money from our accounts to pay for your problem and that you have lied to me. I find it difficult to trust you anymore.
I hate seeing you like this and I hate living like this. I want you to get help for your problem. I know you think you can beat if on your own and you have tried really hard to stop. You need help.
In future if you are drunk / stoned etc I will not spend time with you. I will not accept your abusive behaviour when you are affected by your problem and if you are violent I will leave and report it to the police..
I care about you and I want to see you happy and healthy again."
Then just listen, don't interrupt. It is up to them now to arrange help, not you. do not get caught up in their blame or remorse.
Groups like al-anon, or nar-anon are really helpful for family and friends of addicts. Living with an addict often results in co-dependent behaviour. You need to look after yourself now and stop trying to fix the addict.
Here are some links that may be helpful to family and friends of addicts.
Al-anon & alateen (English / Spanish/ French)