Helping a loved one

It is painful and difficult to care for a child, parent, partner, family member, or friend who is experiencing challenges with drinking or taking drugs. You feel anxious for them to find treatment or frustrated that you can’t do more to get them there.

Our Care Specialists are here to help. We have expert knowledge about the treatment landscape and provide guidance for finding support.

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Image of a father and son hugging, representing helping a loved one with substance use disorder
Image of a banner with a white bottom, black top, and fade in the middle
Image of a father and son hugging, representing helping a loved one with substance use disorder

The difficult conversation

When your loved one feels ready to call us, we will listen to them and help them consider some steps they can take to start their treatment journey. Bringing up your concern with your loved one can be challenging, but there are some helpful ways to go about it.

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Choose a time to talk

Discuss when both of you are calm and when your loved one is not high, hungover, or experiencing a withdrawal. If they seem upset about their substance use or are talking about wanting to make a change, this would be a good time to chat with them about it.
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Keep it brief

We don’t want them to tune out of the conversation. Have an idea of the important things you want to talk about beforehand, so you can keep it short and simple.
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Stay positive

Tell your loved one that you called us at Navigator, and explain why in a positive way. For example, “I’ve been worried about you, and I was hoping they could help me support you better.”
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Avoid negative communication

Your loved one may feel attacked and become defensive if you use ultimatums or criticisms.
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Support your loved one

Tell your loved one how much you value and care for them and that you understand what they’re going through. For example, “I believe that you deserve a better life”, “I know this is really tough for you”.
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Suggest calling Navigator

Ask your loved one, “Is now an OK time for you to do something for me — to call the people at Navigator?” Suggest it in a positive way: “What would you think about speaking with the people I spoke with at Navigator?” Or “Would you be willing to give Navigator a call, to see what they have to offer?”

These guidelines are based on the empirically supported approach known as Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT).
See: Meyers RJ, Wolfe BL. Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening. Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2004.
Smith JE, Meyers RJ. Motivating Substance Abusers to Enter Treatment: Working With Family Members. New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 2004.

Getting support for yourself is good for you and your loved one.

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How to explain what we do at Navigator

We listen carefully to their story, needs, and concerns so that we understand their full situation
Our goal is to explore what your loved one is going through, how their life is impacted, and what they hope to achieve
We’ll ask specific questions so we can offer the best options to suit your needs and your loved one’s situation and concerns
We are here to offer help. We will not pressure your loved one. We respect that this is their choice and their timeframe
We will not disclose their information. We understand that your loved one may wish to keep their treatment private
If your loved one is interested in receiving help, we’ll provide a local option that matches their needs and insurance coverage

Assure your loved one that there are no obligations.
This is only an initial conversation, not a commitment to go to treatment.

When you speak to a Navigator Care Specialist, your personal situation will
always be treated with the utmost care and respect.

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We provide
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We practice
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We embrace
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We inspire
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Support when
you need it

Reaching out to others for support can help keep things from becoming overwhelming. You are always welcome to call a Navigator Care Specialist for confidential guidance on how to support your loved one.

It could also help to connect with fellow friends and family of people managing substance use. Take a look at our support and resources page to find some networks to help you get started.

Image of two women having a discussion at an SUD treatment center