How to Tell Others You’re an Addict

If you’ve recently decided to get help because drugs are causing problems in your life, you’re taking a big step toward getting sober. Admitting you have a problem with drugs and alcohol is another important leap forward. No matter who you’re sharing your news with, honesty is essential. Here is some advice for telling the people you care about the most that you plan to get help.

Telling Your Significant Other

There is a significant chance your closest loved one already knows you abuse drugs or alcohol, or at least knows something is wrong. In many cases, admitting you need help comes as a relief — in others, it leads to denials or further enabling.

Choose a time when you can speak with your partner quietly and without interruption. Be honest. Try something like, “I’ve tried before to quit, but I just keep using again. I want to get help so I can move beyond the feelings that lead to this behavior.” Accept that your partner may be angry or resentful — listen carefully, but stay strong. Getting sober benefits you both.

Telling Your Family

Parents, siblings and extended family members may also express relief or surprise. Don’t ask for permission — instead, present your news as a decision. For example, you might say something like: “Things might look okay on the outside, but for some time I’ve been dealing with a drinking problem. I’ve tried to quit but can’t seem to stop. Drinking [or taking drugs] is ruining my life. Treatment can help me get back on the right track.”

Talking to Children

Addiction is frightening to children and can cause long-lasting emotional damage. Getting help is the best thing you can do to improve your child’s life. Avoid sharing unsettling details of your addiction, and focus on the positive. For example, “You might have noticed that Mommy seems sick or tired a lot lately. I want to get better so I can be the best mom possible. I’m going to get help from a doctor for a few weeks, and you’ll be staying with Daddy and Grandma. I can’t wait to come back home and feel happy with you!”

Older children need a different approach. You could say, “I’m sorry I haven’t been myself lately. I want to get better, and set a good example for you. Mom and I decided that professional treatment is a good idea, so I will be away for a few weeks. When I come back, we can start fresh.”

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

No matter who you talk to about your alcohol or drug problem, be prepared to answer questions. Your loved ones may ask what substances you abuse and how often you abuse them. Children especially will want to know how long you’ll be away from home. Your partner may ask questions about financial matters or legal problems. Answer as honestly and gently as you can. Conversations such as these are often emotional and difficult, but with time and treatment, you can heal the wounds of addiction.

What’s Next?

12 Keys Rehab can help if you need more advice on how to tell your loved ones you are addicted. For more information on addiction and recovery, contact us today.

The Addiction Blog