When discussing relationships of any nature, there are two key components to establishing a solid personal foundation while simultaneously building the relationship into a longstanding
bond. These components are trust and communication.
In order to enter into a relationship with someone, whether it be a child and parent or choosing a sober support, there must be a fundamental level of trust to ensure that you will not be hurt by the other individual.
Once the relationship is established, effective and honest communication allows the relationship to work through difficult situations and build depth by discussing any and all topics.
This constant dialogue allows those within the relationship to share various emotional experiences that enables the relationship to grow and flourish. But do not be mistaken, communication can be difficult at times, and even result in disagreements and conflict.
However, this is when the first component of trust helps both people in the relationship work past the issues, trusting that the other person has their best interests at heart.
As a loved one to a recovering addict, one of the top questions on your mind is probably: How do I effectively communicate with the recovering addict in my life?
If there is trust between yourself and your addicted loved one, then establishing and maintaining an open channel of communication requires patience and persistence.
Why Communication in Substance Abuse Recovery Matters
As previously stated, communication works to build a relationship, effectively address misunderstandings, and encourage both parties to remain open and honest.
When dealing with an addicted loved one, consistent communication decreases feelings of isolation in both the addict and yourself. By actively initiating daily communication, regardless of the topic or the purpose, you are establishing a habit of constant dialogue that will inevitably lead to important interactions and disclosure of feelings.
Be prepared to avoid verbal conflict if your loved one is dealing with excessive emotionality or experiencing exacerbated symptomatology. The fact of the matter is that recovery is hard, and the process of maintaining sobriety can increase feelings of stress and anxiety within your loved one.
However, by establishing an effective channel of communication, you can be better informed when your loved one is experiencing a difficult day and give them a bit of space to process their emotions.
Communication Skills in Recovery to Practice With an Addict
Implementing effective communication skills is an essential component to establishing consistent and substantive dialogue with your addicted loved one. They can increase both the method in which you communicate and whether or not your loved one feels safe to disclose personally sensitive information.
Consider communication skills like anything else in life: you have to practice the techniques in order to become good at them. These include:
1. Being mindful of your loved one’s individual space
This technique helps to establish an appropriate tone at the onset of the conversation. Making sure not to infringe on your loved one’s personal space allows them to feel comfortable and secure throughout the interaction, which typically results in them feeling less restricted and more open to engage honestly.
2. Understanding their non-verbal cues
One of the most important factors in communicating with others is our nonverbal communication. You are aware and in control of the words you speak, but you may not notice the nonverbal cues you’re sending. Your loved one does, however.
That is why monitoring your body language and actions, such as fidgeting, rolling eyes and clenched fists, is essential to conveying to your loved one that you are ready and willing to communicate in a loving manner.
3. Applying active listening
Communication goes far beyond the words you speak; it also includes how you receive and interpret the information you are hearing. Listening is an active process that involves analysis and processing the information that’s being provided, including cadence of the person speaking, the tonality of their voice, and the actual words they use to describe their feelings. Actively listening enables you to digest all of this information and compose an appropriate response.
4. Using positive body language
There are a number of techniques that can be implemented in order to convey positive and supportive body language. Watching your loved one and mirroring their actions can help, as well as making sure not to cross your arms or turn away from your loved one as they speak. Positive facial cues also fall under this category and can aid in conveying optimism and empathy to your loved one as you actively listen to their issues.
5. Maintaining eye contact throughout the interaction
They say the eyes are the window to the soul. While this isn’t factually based, maintaining eye contact with your loved one does encourage open dialogue. It makes them feel as if you are actively participating in the conversation and genuinely ingesting everything they have to say. Eye contact increases a person’s investment in the conversation and shows them that you are not simply waiting for your turn to talk; you are taking everything they have to say to heart.
Achieving success in any conversation can be achieved when parties listen to and understand each other. By actively practicing these skills when you communicate with your loved one, you are increasing the likelihood that they will become increasingly more comfortable in their communications with you and include you in the conversations that genuinely impact their future well-being and sustained sobriety.
Holistic Addiction Therapy at Ranch Creek Recovery
As your loved one’s biggest advocate, we understand how crucial it is for you to help your loved one get clean and stay sober. If they are ready to get help, or you are seeking insights from addiction recovery experts, Ranch Creek Recovery and our holistic approach to substance abuse recovery can help.
Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us today.