Many addicts struggle with this. There is a much simpler way to look at this: When the time comes for you to get serious about getting sober, you’ll realize that you don’t want to go through this alone – and that’s the perfect time to tell someone, especially your parents, you’re an addict. If you’re ready to tell your family that you miss being a part of the family, that’s the time. When you want to make amends for the ways you have hurt or disappointed them, that’s the time. When you have finally worked up the courage to care about yourself as others care about you, that’s the time. It really doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.
Are You Over Your Own Denial?
Before you tell someone you’re an addict, you have to admit to yourself that you are one. Perhaps you’re one of those people who has been telling yourself that you’re just having fun, partying and you can quit anytime. Maybe you or a friend or two have been arrested for a DUI, so perhaps you think it’s normal that a person gets the occasional DUI. Or perhaps you have some friends who are doing or have done prison time for a “seemingly minor” drug charge. Maybe you think every person your age is out using substances or getting high as often as you do. Truth be told, these are the indicators that you’re in denial and as importantly, you’re running with the wrong crowd. There are some clear signs of addiction and if any one of these applies to you, you’re probably addicted:
- You rely on alcohol or drugs as your number one stress coping skill
- You don’t have time or money to exercise or eat right because of using drugs or alcohol
- You blackout from using or drinking
- You have missed school/work/family gatherings because of drugs or alcohol
- You have lost friends because of your habits
- You use or drink more than your friends
- The thought of giving up drugs or alcohol makes you nervous
- You are unable to have fun without drugs or alcohol
- A DUI or arrest hasn’t lessened your use
- You drink or use more than you plan to, even when you set a goal
- You “borrow” from family or steal to buy drugs or alcohol
When you can finally accept that you have a substance abuse problem, you must open your heart and mind to getting help.
To Get Clean, You Must Come Clean
Addicts are often surprised to learn that they knew about the addiction for a long time. If you’ve been kidding yourself that your family had no clue about your problem, you may be set for a rude awakening. Unless you live nowhere near them, chances are they have been suspicious, if not outright convinced that you have a problem. Maybe they’ve even asked you about the issue or offered help. None of that matters, now. Even if they already know it, it is important for you to say, “I have a problem.” If you don’t know how to tell someone you’re an addict, just start with the truth. First and foremost, tell them you want to be honest with them — and then really be honest. Let them know you have been giving your addiction a lot of thought. Share with your family the signs you have seen that your addiction has been costing you dearly. Tell them you know the addiction has cost you their trust in you and their ability to rely on you. Tell them how your addiction has affected your schoolwork or your ability to hold down a job. Tell them how your addiction has affected your relationships with others. Share with them how your addiction has cost you financially. It’s not necessary to share every explicit detail with your loved ones, however. They might be blissfully unaware of the details of your habit and related escapades. You can save those for another day. Just make sure they hear that you understand how your addiction has negatively affected your life and theirs.
When you tell someone you’re an addict, the important thing to do during this conversation is to emphasize your responsibility for all of these problems. It might be tempting to blame your mother for the fact that she was always so controlling or to blame your sister for outshining you in life. You might be tempted to say your father never really supported you or wasn’t there for you. You also might like to say that your friends are responsible for leading you down the wrong path and introducing you to a lifestyle that turned into an addiction. The most important thing you can do to convince your family you’re serious about addressing your addiction, though, is to admit that you have made the wrong choices. Attacking and blaming your family isn’t going to garner you the support you so dearly want and need at this time. You need to openly take responsibility for your own addiction. You made the choices on how to act, and you need to own it. By openly accepting responsibility for your role in your addiction, you will be less likely to put your family on the defensive. This is not to say that your family will be the picture of love and support. A family meeting with one or many members can turn into a session with a lot of crying, anger and yelling. Let everyone get everything out, but it’s okay for you to leave the meeting if it’s becoming too aggressive. All of the healing with your family doesn’t need to happen in one day. It’s important for you to keep in mind the reason for telling your loved ones about your addiction is that you want to come clean. You want to turn over new leaf, and you would truly love to have their support. You are not meeting with them to tolerate abuse from them.
Apologize for, however, you have wronged your family. If you treated them badly while under the influence or did not show up for a family gathering because you were too drunk to drive, or stole from someone to buy more drugs, say you are truly sorry. If you caused anyone to worry about your whereabouts or bail you out of jail, apologize. This is another step in taking responsibility for your behavior and making amends. These amends will be part of the recovery journey and when you tell someone you’re an addict, they will be watching to see that you’re following the recommended steps.
Share Your Action Plan
The next factor that is necessary to show your family you are serious about recovery is to emphasize that you have a solid plan. Once you tell someone you’re an addict, tell them how you will tackle your addiction. If you have already contacted a recovery center or joined a support group, share that. This will show them you are really serious about overcoming your addiction. If you have dropped old friends who aided your addiction, tell them. Let them know your concrete plans so they can recognize your commitment to change. You might find that one or more family members become so eager to help you that they begin doing immediate research on where you can get help. Even though you may have done some of this research on your own, allow them to help you, or at least feel like they are helping you. This is kindness on your part. Let them do their research. Let them make their calls. Recognize this is a sign that they are on your side and they want to help you get better. This is the support you need. If you have already made plans to join a recovery group or a center, you can still maintain your plans while being gracious to your family for the forgiveness and love they have shown you.
The Next Big Step
Once you have done your best to establish a support system for family or friends, you need to begin the journey of detox. You need to find an addiction treatment center that will help you in a method that fits you the best. At The District in beautiful Huntington Beach, CA, we have an experienced and compassionate team to help you detox. When you call us, we’ll evaluate your current situation. If you’re just beginning the journey, we’ll refer you to a Rehab/Detox center to first purge the substances from your body. Once that process is complete, we’ll likely be seeing you as residents of our IOP, PHP, or Sober Living programs. All of these programs, including sober living homes, follow what has proven to be the best path toward success. We recognize there could also be an underlying medical, social or emotional reason for addiction. This knowledge allows us to treat your addiction in a personalized and advanced manner for the greatest possibility of success. The District Recovery Community does not believe in a cookie-cutter method of treatment. We believe in you. We truly care about you and want you to feel loved and supported. We are familiar with the challenges you face, and we want to see you succeed with methods that make sense for you. We believe in the importance of family and know-how critical they can be to your success in getting clean. It’s our goal to involve the whole family in your recovery. Our team will take the time to get to know you and your specific situation, so you can get healthy and stay healthy. We offer counseling for you and your family to assist you and your family through the recovery process. We also will stay with you for 12 months following your recovery so you stay healthy. We know how difficult it can be to move forward after rehab, so we have many options to support your journey.
Get in Touch With Us Today
We are here for you and want to help you change your life! Call us at (949) 397-6095 or use the form below. The call is totally confidential, and you’ll be immediately connected with an Admission Expert who can definitively lay out your options.