I’ve surveyed a lot of people who take drugs to find out why they take them and the answers are varied. But typical answers often include relaxation, creativity, escape from boredom and social inclusion. I understand all of these, because who doesn’t want to feel relaxed, creative, interested and included?
The issue with drugs isn’t the positive effects which are the reason people take them, it’s the negative effects which destroy lives and families. These side effects include addiction, reduced mental ability and energy, criminality, paranoia, psychosis and other mental health issues.
The problem here is that the urge to get high and feel the benefits of the drug, make a person either blind to or willing to accept the negative effects that go along with the drug. Because of this, one of the least effective ways to talk to a drug user or addict is to only focus on how bad the drug is, because if you don’t recognize how the user thinks they are benefiting from the drug, they will feel they are just being nagged and instantly the user zones out.
So what have I found works? Ask them how they feel the drug helps them—persist until they honestly answer you (typically they will start out by telling you that they know it doesn’t help them—but if you persist and really listen they will eventually tell you how they think it helps) and when they tell you, you have to acknowledge how they feel. This can be HARD. It goes against all the urges you will have to tell them how bad the drug is. But ask yourself, has repeating to them how bad drugs are stopped them using before? Probably not. Now, I am not suggesting you agree with them that drugs are good. All I’m suggesting is that you acknowledge them—you say that you understand how they feel. The reason to do this is that they want to be right and telling them they are wrong will just make them push and argue that they are right. This is a kind of reverse psychology—you want to allow them to be right so they can become less defensive and willing to at least look for themselves at how right they really are.
Once you’ve done that, then you can start to discuss with them other ways they can receive the benefits they feel they get from drugs. There are hundreds of ways to become more relaxed, creative, interested and included, that don’t have the negative effects of drugs. Exercise, healthy eating, long walks, travel, hobbies, and many other solutions exist that won’t destroy their wellbeing and their families lives.
If you want help applying this to a loved one, or if you would like help getting yourself or a family member off of drugs, get in touch with us.