Learning to Talk to a Recovering Addict

One of the hardest lesions I’ve had to learn over the years is how to sit down and have a serious conversation with those in recovery. I’ve had numerous occasions to experience this and in most cases walked away with more doubt in my thoughts process than those of the user. There is a somewhat simple reason for my misunderstanding. As a parent, or friend we act just as that. We are trying to introduce a broad scope of what is forward in the addict’s life. The one addicted is more in tunnel vision mode. They are at some stage in recovery and depending how determined they are to continue that path are focused on one thing only. To live for the moment and stay focused. Those things that you see as problem issues approaching, only create turmoil in the life of the user. Turmoil or stress is one thing they try to avoid at all cost.

The user has spent time totally focused on how to avoid those people, place and things that might tempt he or she to return to that past life full of nothing but misery. They have chosen to select those things to avoid and let hamper them in any way. To point out the known issues you see as they go forward only create stress and can also a total turn off to what you are lecturing. They become overwhelmed with all your saying. If they are truly in recovery they move to where they are at this moment or day. If they are happy and pleased with what they are doing and feel they are following the steps that have been taught and continuing the things necessary to maintain their sobriety. Your intervention or thoughts may have little meaning.

You are only trying to help them avoid pitfalls that you yourself may have found in your own life. You are sincere in your wishing only to help them. They know you are trying to help but for whatever the time period, they have had it driven into their head each day, what they must do. Once you realize the mindset of the user, you may be better apt in discussions. You move forward with baby steps as some say. This healing process is slow and those involved are in constant learning mode.

If conversations lead to arguments and bad feelings, step back for a moment and give yourself time to think who you are and where your user is.  Don’t be ashamed to apologize for things you may have said or misunderstanding what your loved one is telling you. I believe I’ve mentioned my son has told me I will never fully understand drug addiction as I have never been a user. Therefore, I leave many of my concerns to his lessons learned, his sponsor, recovering friend and his own good judgment.  My part is to continue to love and support.

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