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Resistance of Loved Ones Wanting to Talk About Addiction

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Addiction can be a difficult thing to talk about, but also to accept. Although we may have admitted to ourselves that something needs to change, our loved ones may not always be willing to see it. It’s quite common to experience resistance in family and friendship groups, both to talking about addiction and accepting it is real.

Resistance can happen in any relationship, be it a parent or partner, a friend or a sibling, and quite often it is because they don’t want to admit that there is an issue, a big issue, that needs addressing. There can also be factors at play that people aren’t fully aware of, where they try to hold on to the status quo, because however unsatisfactory, it is also what’s familiar. There are different kinds of resistance that we face when discussing addiction. While there is no one size fits all approach, here are some of the more common barriers we have seen. 

Denial is the first and most common of the things we see. Often, people say things aren’t as ‘bad’ as they ‘should’ be in addiction. When many people think of the end of the road in addiction, there are the homeless, the ones with nothing left, or even those on the brink of dying. While that is true in some cases, there are also millions of high functioning people with families and jobs who  are on the road to addiction, and who  need help. We sometimes have a tendency to say, ‘you’re not that bad’ and that can actually be really damaging. If someone thinks they have an issue and wants to discuss it, that is a massive step for them and should be respected.

Another is shutting-down or avoidance. Some people will refuse to have these conversations, perhaps because they are too painful to go through, or because they don’t want to admit that there is something wrong with their loved one that needs to be addressed. Silent treatment, withdrawal from friendships and relationships, are common ways that people handle these feelings. 

There are many different reactions to speaking about addiction, and these are just a couple of them. But, if we want to overcome addiction, then we need to have more open conversations. We need to have a willingness to talk and to listen, as well as accepting that some people are not at the stage where they are ready to talk about it yet. 

The most important thing is that if you think you have a problem, then you should seek help, no matter what anyone else may say. As part of our programmes, we offer group and family support, so you could open the floor up to loved ones who were feeling that resistance and struggling to accept an addiction close to home. 

We need to change the narrative that we have around addiction, but that is a collective effort that needs to happen together. We hear and see a lot of stigma and stereotypes that make us think that unless someone is the lowest they have ever been, visibly, then there cannot be something wrong. 

The stereotypes we hold and think of are perhaps the most damaging here, when really, there is no one face of addiction, or one way that it should look. There are so many people battling with their own minds, and addiction is a mental illness, something that we cannot always see. 

So, how can we help those around us to face that resistance? It isn’t our job, it is our job to look after ourselves and our own mental health, facing our addictions as we need to. But, if we talk more openly about it and share what is going on in our mind, that may go a way towards helping others understand that addiction looks different in all of us.You may find it obvious that someone is suffering, and in others, you would never know, so it is important to make sure we are learning and listening without judgement. 

Help Me Stop offers addiction support through a non-residential Dayhab programme and our Online Rehab service too. Most of our team members have been through addiction and are in long-term recovery, so they know what you’re feeling and what you’re going through. 

If you have any concerns or questions, or perhaps you want to discuss your own addiction and recovery options, please get in touch for a confidential chat. We are compassionate and we don’t judge. Let us be here for you when you need us. 

Call the team on +44(0)208 191 9191 or send an email to and we will get back to you. 

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