Are you worried about somebody you love right now? The pandemic, the end of the holiday season, and social unrest have caused a roller coaster of both worries and emotions. People are hurting. Socially distancing has been difficult, especially for people with a substance use disorder. Sadly, as more stress unfolds globally, more people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. People in recovery are relapsing, as well. Reaching out to them will help them realize they are not alone. Now is the right time to reach out and check on the people you love, especially those who may be lonely or struggling.
Set Up A Meeting
Check on a loved one if you haven’t heard from them lately. If you’re worried about somebody who is in recovery or who uses alcohol and/or drugs, don’t put it off. Send a text to your loved one. Ask them if they have time tomorrow to chat, preferably on a video chat service like Zoom. You probably want to be able to make eye contact when you’re talking. If they don’t want to use video chat, then, of course, a regular call is another check in option.
Ask them when it works for them and make sure you are on time. If they don’t show up or answer the phone, you’ll have to text them again. Try not to judge them – people with addictions carry a lot of guilt and shame, which can cause them to avoid people. They may wake up with every intention to call you and then get wrapped up in their addiction.
If you’re worried about somebody and miss them, make sure that’s the way you start the conversation rather than asking them upfront if they are drinking and using drugs. You may also have a loved one who is not using drugs or alcohol but may be depressed. Some people may have stopped taking their medications for various reasons.
Check On Them and Having the Conversation
Listening and not judging are essential in helping you understand what’s going on. When you check in with your loved one, it’s about openness and communication.
Here are a few important tips for making sure your conversation is meaningful:
- Pay attention to your surroundings, and make sure you have privacy. Turn off any distractions such as music or TV. You want your loved one to feel safe and comfortable.
- Listen actively. Ask how they are doing, and then pay careful attention to their response. Ask questions to show you are listening. Checking in means letting them speak.
- Start with the small stuff, like you would at any other “normal” time in their life. Ask how they’re dealing with the pandemic, how they feel, etc. Talk about your own experiences, too. Check on your loved one and remember, it’s a conversation, not an interrogation.
- Let them know you love them! Ask them if there is anything you can do to help! Don’t offer money, but offer to look things up on the internet or help them troubleshoot their software to go to an online meeting.
- Don’t judge them if they are using. People have had difficulty coping with financial loss, deaths, fear, and other issues during the pandemic. Addiction is a disease – it’s not about you, even if it hurts you!
- Talk about mental health. Many people in recovery have mental health disorders that they used drugs to self-medicate. Your loved one may be struggling. Make sure to have the phone number of a local suicide or crisis hotline.
- Don’t panic. If your loved one uses drugs or has turned to drink, it may feel like an emergency, especially if they have relapsed. Panicking doesn’t help anyone! Ask them what they want to do about their drug or alcohol use. Are they willing to go to a meeting? What about considering detox and treatment? Are they willing to go to an online therapist?
- Offer your help, but don’t overextend yourself. If your loved one needs to find a detox or treatment center, you can look up the information for them or make a few phone calls. But you are not responsible for the entire process.
- Learn about and encourage harm reduction. Check in to make sure your loved one follows through. They may have trouble getting clean and sober. It’s not easy to do, even in a pandemic. But don’t give up on them. You can practice harm reduction by asking them to check in with you every day. If they are using drugs, make sure they keep an opioid-reversal drug such as Naloxone with them. (Even if they are using cocaine or meth, this is important! Fentanyl is tainting a lot of street drugs and causing overdoses.)
- Continue to encourage them to check in with you in the future. Keep in touch and show you care. There IS help available for everyone who needs it, but reaching out is hard. One day your loved one may finally decide they need help.
Getting Help for Addiction
If you or somebody you love is fighting addiction, you’re not alone. Getting help is the first step to reclaiming your life. You’re not alone, and support IS still available. We work with veterans, CEOs, and others from many walks of life, all with one thing in common. They want to get clean and sober but aren’t quite sure how to make the changes they need to live a healthier, more fulfilling life in recovery.
We help you start your path to recovery discreetly, and all calls are confidential.
Give yourself a chance by calling us at 619-452-1200 to learn about your options.