It’s hard, for example, if you’ve been to the hospital three or four times because your friend is in there for alcohol poisoning. You probably know that if your friend is going to live, the drinking and drug use has got to stop.
And you might know that he or she needs substance abuse treatment, but your friend might not be willing to accept it quite yet.
However, because you’re watching your friend destroy his or her life, you might want to get the message of substance abuse treatment across – soon! If you’re in these shoes, you might want to talk to your friend in a way that respects his or her inner authority.
For instance, Dr. Michael Pantalon, author of Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone To Do Anything – Fast, provides the following suggestions. These pointers are based on a therapeutic method called Motivational Interviewing.
This is a form of therapy that drug counselors use with recovering addicts. It seeks to evoke an individual’s intrinsic desire to change. It does this by exploring his or her ambivalence to changing behavior, given the pros and cons of using drugs or drinking. Exploring and resolving this ambivalence is the goal of this type of drug addiction treatment.
For instance, an individual might love to drink or use drugs – it feels good, it’s fun, and it gives them a sense of power and inner security. However, at the same time, they might see how drinking gives them a hangover, gets in the way of concentrating at work, and causes alcohol poisoning and trips to the hospital.
The inner struggle of wanting to quit because of its consequences versus wanting to keep drinking because it’s a way to cope with life is the ambivalence that needs to be resolved.
Of course, most people are not trained therapists, but you can utilize the principles of this therapy in the way that you talk to your friend. For example, if you were to engage in a safe, relaxed, and open conversation with your friend, you might try the following:
Don’t tell your friend about how you feel
- Instead, listen to the thoughts and feelings of your friend. Listen for what he or she is communicating underneath the words. Then, when you respond, repeat back to your friend what you heard in your own words. This process strengthens trust and respect. Your friend will feel heard and understood versus being pushed or coerced into anything.
Don’t tell your friend why he or she needs to stop
- Rather than telling your friend what to do, ask questions to invite how his or her feelings about drinking. Ask about some of the consequences they experience. You might ask questions like “Have you ever done something you regretted while drinking?” or “What are some of the reasons you might want to quit?” You can also invite your friend to answer on a scale from one to ten, how ready they are to get help.
The point is to recognize that ultimately it is up to your friend to seek drug addiction treatment. You can facilitate that by empowering your friend versus expressing your anger or resentment or telling your friend what to do. In the end, he or she is going to do what she wants. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, encouraging your friend’s autonomy is the best step you can take.
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