Distinctly Montana

Montana Substance Abuse & Treatment

Substance abuse does not only affect the user mentally and physically, it clouds their perception and makes communicating with them very difficult. Even if not addicted, many people tend to find difficulty communicating and wind up misunderstanding each other, resulting in shouting matches and fights. So imagine what it's like communicating with someone whose actions and words are being controlled by a substance. Being around people who have an addiction isn’t always easy and communicating with them doesn’t usually happen naturally. You may often find yourself walking on eggshells, worried about saying the wrong thing. 

Addiction creates confusion within the addict and those around them. To have better communication with an addict, you might have to go through trial and error several times before you come up with a way that opens the channels of communication. It is advisable that you consult with professionals for advice. In Montana, USA, for example, they provide free rehabilitation services in a number of centers. You’ll find that this is because the number of addicts in Montana in particular has gone up considerably. According to the State Crime Lab in Missoula, the number of people testing positive for heroin and meth has gone over 143 percent in the past 3 years. The problem has escalated to the point where even the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome has risen- meaning these infants are plagued even before they’re given a chance to live. The drug problem in Montana is indicative of how fast the drug scene is growing worldwide and how much of a serious problem it is that is slowly getting out of control. But the silver lining is that the options for rehabilitation are increasing and so are the efforts for effective treatment. This is great because you can consult with the people at the centers or even go there and have a talk with someone who can guide you on how you can proceed in communicating. This could be very useful as they can also guide you on how you can eventually have the addict check themselves into rehab at some point.

Here are a couple of tips on how you can move forward in communication:

Be Kind

People do not choose to become addicts. Probably the biggest problem that people have when dealing with someone with a substance abuse problem is that the symptoms of addiction are everything society rejects; lying, stealing, aggressiveness, etc. Addicted people often expect others to belittle and criticize them. Being kind and compassionate will not necessarily stop their addiction, but it is a means of showing you accept them as they are and are not looking down on them. 

Be A Listener

You will have a better chance for good communication if you listen rather than talk at a person. A person suffering from addiction doesn’t want to be preached to and they might open up when talking to someone who is not criticizing or interrupting them. When you listen, it helps them to put their guard down and you may discover what the core issue is.

Check Your Actions

If you know the person has an addiction, such as alcohol for example, it’s certainly not the best of ideas to talk to them about it over a bottle of wine at dinner. Your actions are just as important, if not more important, than your words. While the addicted person can be very unpredictable in their actions, you need to be the opposite and be consistent in your behavior towards them. Don’t take addicts by surprise by words or actions that may derail them as this will cause them stress. Until they have the coping tools they need to deal with stress or anger and other emotions, you need to keep the upper hand in staying calm and displaying the correct behavior.

Support Change

Usually we tend to believe that it is only the addict that needs to change; but the truth of the matter is, anyone dealing with an addict also needs to change. If you’re not addicted and compare yourself to an addict, you will probably come out with the conclusion that you’re a better person. Truth be told, if you don’t change and support the change a patient with an addiction is trying to make, you will not advance towards recovery. That’s why the best rehab programs to treat alcohol dependency do not only treat the addict, but also offer programs to

help families. Once the addict starts to benefit through counseling and other means offered in these programs, they will have a different view of ‘change’ Their fears will lessen when they see you are willing to make changes, too.


Provide Support

Remember that your main job is to provide support – not fix the problem. There are professional people better equipped to put the substance user on the road to recovery. Your job is to support and encourage when an addict makes proper choices; even if you don’t agree with the means. You might have a different view on how the addict can get better, and that view may differ than the addict’s own strategy. As long as both of you are receiving the desired outcome of getting the addict recovered, then that’s fine. But you should be clear and firm about what is unacceptable in their behavior. It’s important to let them know that you do not condone or support their addiction, and make it clear that you will not be the enabler, only their support in getting through this ordeal.

Directing Anger In The Right Direction

Regardless of how much you love this person, there will be times when your anger gets the better of you. You have to learn how to separate anger towards the behavior of the addict, and the individual themselves. It’s absolutely normal to get angry and frustrated at the behavior, which is different than getting angry at a loved one for being an addict. The person you love is still there, but being completely controlled by drugs. Speaking about love, you might be thinking that if they love you, the addict should be able to quit. The truth is, love has very little to do with the ability to overcome substance abuse. Quitting has a structure to be followed and is about learning new skills to cope with what is going on around you. It’s a process that has a beginning, but doesn’t really have an end as it’s a work in progress. Loving the addict is important, but it’s not a magic cure that will turn everything around.

It is known that substance abuse is a family disease; if only one person is addicted, all family members are affected. You will need to find better ways to communicate. When you understand that their addiction is a disease and it doesn’t mean they don’t love you, and doesn’t mean they have chosen drugs over you, you’ll be better able to communicate. It may never look like it, but it’s true that every addict wants to quit. Your kindness, support, understanding and love are all needed. When paired up with professional help, the ability to lead a drug-free life is very much in reach.

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