The Only Way To Treat Addiction Is To Talk About It

In therapy, especially in working with families, the topic of money is a frequent, if not constant, point of conversation.

That’s why whenever I see a news story about the subject of families and money, I pay attention. This column, in the New York Times recently, brought up a point that’s easy to support, based on years of experience. Silence, as the headline puts it, is not “golden” when it comes to families and money. Talking about finances is the only way to prevent hostility around that topic.

That also applies to another important part of the work I’ve done – addiction.

Time can be the greatest enemy when a member of your family is struggling with addiction. The biggest detriments to success can be avoidance or procrastination or a combination of the two.

It’s very difficult for anyone to talk about addiction and a loved one. The feelings of shame and the culture of stigma are challenges for anyone to overcome. But it’s imperative.

So, in therapy, I work to make sure that the subject gets “on the table,” with those closest to it. It’s part of my job to help get it talked about and get plans in the works to address the condition, so that it doesn’t linger, unspoken.

This is a danger of addiction that doesn’t get thought of often enough – the risk of avoiding the subject when you know, for certain, that a loved one is affected. Only through conversation with a trusted therapist can any solutions begin to emerge. Letting a situation linger, hoping it will get better, is an approach that, while tempting, will never be effective.

Qualified professionals will protect confidentiality and work with you to ensure that any necessary conversation remains safe. Whomever you choose, it will always be essential that you choose to bring the subject to the point of conversation.