When it comes to the people we love and care for, often we let behaviours slide out of fear of offending or losing those connections. This is an overview to help you motivate your loved ones to seek a healthier lifestyle on their terms.
- Use empathy
Remember when you were learning at school, would you respond better to the teacher who guided you, or the teacher who yelled at you? Try to remove stigma. Be kind and caring. Focus on positive terminology and minimise explaining all the negative things that they already know.
- Support the change process
Engage your loved one at a time when they are ready to talk, support their healthy behaviours and let them know that you will support them unconditionally. Remind them that any past negative behaviours do not define who they are, and their future can take any direction they like.
- Be consistent with communication and behaviour
Ensure you are ready to support your loved one. Supporting them one day and then admonishing them tomorrow will not encourage sustained change. Role model healthy behaviours. For example, if you are supporting someone to seek recovery from alcohol, do not then offer them a beer with dinner. Have a glass of water instead.
- If your loved one opens up to you, listen
Often our loved ones will try to let us know why they are behaving in certain ways. This is an opportunity to listen, not fix. You may hear things you do not agree with, but try to remain involved and objective. Addictions are often the consequence of other factors in their lives. Try and understand why they feel that way. Don’t get defensive, let them just express what’s on their mind.
- Unconditional support
Your loved ones like knowing they are loved and cared for even at their worst. Supporting a positive recovery involves accepting the good and the bad. However, this does not mean you have to accept consistently unhealthy behaviours. Reward healthy behaviours with love and attention, try not to give attention to unhealthy behaviours. This does not mean to ignore them.
- Set boundaries
Let your loved one know what you will and won’t accept while they work on their recovery. Draw the lines in the sand early and then follow through. The behaviours you accept set the standard for future behaviours. This step can be assisted by professionals in the field.
- Allow them to proceed into recovery their way. Be a guiding light, don’t do it for them
Encourage your loved ones to find a path to recovery that suits them. They may feel ashamed asking for help, or fear being reported to the police. Remind them that it is okay to ask for help and try to remove shameful feelings. Offer ideas and services but encourage them to seek recovery in a way they think will work best for them. This will help them to feel validated and supported. This means even if you feel there are better alternatives, still letting them make their own choices and putting your own opinions aside.
To learn more about PsychMed’s addiction treatment programs, please visit https://psychmed.com.au/alcohol-drug-programs/