woman-man-sitting-on-cliff

How to Stop Regretting Conversations with Your Addicted Loved One

Fact Checked and Peer Reviewed

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

“In an ideal world, we would like to think before we respond.  This can be difficult when you are dealing with an already emotionally charged situation with a person who is not thinking straight.”

Effective communication with an addicted person can be challenging for many reasons:

  • This person, if in active addiction,  may not be thinking clearly, let alone have the reasoning skills to have a meaningful discussion.

  • They may be trying to get an emotional response by pushing your buttons.

  • The addict is attempting to get you to accept responsibility for their problems.

  • They have a need and won’t take no for an answer

In an ideal world, we would like to think before we respond.  This can be difficult when you are dealing with an already emotionally charged situation with a person who is not thinking straight.

When being confronted with these circumstances it can be very helpful to be prepared with some brief statements to keep the conversation calm while allowing you time to give the response you can be comfortable with.

Consider the following stopgap responses.  When they tell you one of their stories or predicaments they are in,  you could try saying one or more if the following. While they may seem simple, it can leave the addict with little to come back at you with.

  • Wow!

  • How about that!

  • I wonder if there is some other solution (other than the one they are trying to get you to buy into)

  • I’ll have to do some research on that.

  • Do you have any ideas?  I am sure you can come up with some.

  • That is one solution (if they give one that is less than ideal)

  • I know you understand I need to focus on __________ right now.  (let them know their problem is not the only thing in your life that demands attention)

  • You are ____ years old and I feel you must do this on your own.

  • You are ____ years old and I feel I must limit my involvement.

  • I need more time for a response

  • I need to think about that

  • I need to rethink that (if they say something like you already said yes, or you didn’t have a problem with it before)

  • I will get back to you

  • I need 24 hours before making important decisions

  • I have done the best I could.  I know you understand

  • I did what I could do at the time

  • I don’t think that would be helpful

These responses can give you the time you need to come up with a response to whatever they are coming at you about.  I know from my personal experience, many times I have been caught off guard or just so irritated at the whole conversation and just want it to be over that I give in without really understanding what that might mean in the long run.  In the end, I am usually frustrated with myself. These responses have given me more time to really figure out what I am willing to do, if anything, to help.

Other strategies that may work as well:

  • Pause, don’t respond at all until you have an answer you are comfortable with sharing

  • Repeat back to them their response (sometimes it helps them see how unreasonable they are being)

  • Avoid triggers (they know what to say to get us upset)

  • If you can anticipate their response, say it before they do

  • Instead of saying what you won’t do, say what you are willing to do

Try using one of these responses or tactics and then move onto a different topic or end the conversation.   Hopefully, it will help alleviate heated discussions or arguments if you are in better control of your thoughts.

 

Karen Damian has a son in recovery and feels that it is a privilege to share the ups and downs of addiction with other parents.

Get more advice, tips, and tricks by subscribing 
to our weekly newsletter.