9 Tips to Entice a Valentine to "Lean In" to Addiction Recovery from Gateway

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Keeping a relationship healthy and filled with romance is enough of a challenge without the snare of alcoholism. Indeed, more than 75 percent of victims of domestic violence report their assailants had been drinking or using illicit drugs at the time of abuse.

Keeping a relationship healthy and filled with romance is enough of a challenge without the snare of alcoholism.

“An act of concern and support may arouse a renewed sense of personal power in others, which changes their perspective from ‘feeling forced’ or powerless to change to ‘feeling confident’ or capable of change,” explains John Larson M.D., Gateway.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment reminds couples that selfless act of love can rekindle an unwavering sense of purpose in their Valentines. Without a doubt, the power of love can help people unhook from alcoholism and/or drug addiction and "lean in" to their recovery.

“An act of concern and support may arouse a renewed sense of personal power in others, which changes their perspective from ‘feeling forced’ or powerless to change to ‘feeling confident’ or capable of change,” explains John Larson M.D., Corporate Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Building self-confidence and sense of purpose in Valentines requires genuine respect and judgment-free affection from reliable “agents of change.” To help encourage an exploratory approach versus a confrontation about substance abuse concerns, Gateway offers nine tips:

1. Get smart about effects of alcoholism and drug abuse as well as potential substance abuse treatment options to help facilitate productive discussions.

2. Timing is extremely important. Choose a time when he or she is sober and the mood is calm.

3. Set a caring and supportive tone for the conversation--anything less may backfire.

  •     “You haven’t seemed to be yourself lately. Is everything okay?”
  •     “What can I do to help alleviate the situation?”

4. Use open-ended questions to elicit underlying feelings.

  •     “It’s not uncommon for people to drink alcohol to try to appease their tough thoughts and feelings. What are some memories and feelings that trigger drinking?”

5. Talk less, listen more. Listen and respect everything he or she has to say, and resist interrupting.

  •     “What are some of the things that make you happy when you’re not drinking?”
  •     “What are some of the not-so-good things about drinking?”

6. Use affirming statements to demonstrate understanding and to validate a loved one’s feelings. Validating a person’s feelings—no matter what he or she has to say—can help encourage self-guided change.

  •     “You are under a tremendous amount of pressure so it’s no wonder you feel so overwhelmed.”
  •     “That must have been devastating. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

7. Take with a grain of salt any accusations of blame or verbal abuse, and refrain from engaging in arguments.

  •     “I understand this isn’t easy to talk about so I’m going to let that one go.”

8. Substance abuse rattles one’s self esteem so be sure to express he or she deserves better, and is capable of achieving whatever change is desired.

  •     “I’m not giving up on you. You are the most amazing person I know.”

9. If shut down, don’t take it personal. Rather, just listen and try to withhold frustration or it may be more difficult for him or her to open up later.

“Planting the seeds of recovery from addiction is a delicate balancing act requiring patience and unconditional love but it’s not impossible,” says Larson.

For more insights and tips about helping a person take on addiction issues, check out Gateway’s Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse at RecoveryGateway.org/Roadmap.

About Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment
Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provide substance abuse treatment services for adults and adolescents at drug treatment centers throughout Illinois and the St. Louis Metro East area. Gateway’s outpatient and inpatient treatment centers are licensed by the state of Illinois and accredited by The Joint Commission. Each year, Gateway’s professional clinicians help thousands of individual's successfully complete treatment. To learn more about Gateway’s free, confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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Kymberly Vasey
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