I'm always telling you how when you're dealing with an addicted loved one, you need to:
I know you're thinking, "Okay, but when do I get to say what I think and feel? When do I get to confront them with the truth?"
There are many things you can do, but the biggest one is learning how and when to confront someone with an addiction.
One of my first jobs was in a psychiatric hospital, and this hospital dealt with the most severe mental health problems. They had a unit for teenagers who were seriously struggling with suicidal thoughts, addiction, and psychosis.
This is where I spent a lot of time in my early days as a counselor, and I learned a lot of lessons, and it's where I learned about therapeutic confrontation from a therapist named Cindy S.
One of the things I had to do as a baby intern was to walk around the hospital and pull patients aside. My job was to get their history from them and write a three-page lengthy assessment. As part of that assessment, I'd have to call the person's family members and ask them what they thought about the situation.
One of the first times I called one of these teenagers' parents, the parent was fussing, saying that the teenager was complaining about the therapist, Cindy S., saying how she said and did mean things.
I listened, took some notes down, and said I'll check into it and then got off the phone because, at this point, I hadn't even met Cindy S. So I started asking the staff about her, "this parent said this about the therapist. What do you think?"
Their response was, "yes, Cindy S can be pretty contentious. She's direct, calls it like it is, and sometimes people get upset about it. In my baby counselor's heart, I thought, "Oh gosh, I can't believe she was so terrible, she's out of bounds."
Bottomline: pick the most significant things you want to go head-to-head against.
It's true, I'm super friendly to my clients, I'm surprised they don't kick me out of the addiction counselor clan. I'm validating, and positive, and I see their strengths, but I'm direct when someone tells me something I know is just pure BS, and I will call that out.
I might say something like, "Hmm, I feel like there's more to that story." or "Are you sure about that?" or "Tell me a little bit more. I feel like there's some more behind that" and sometimes I'll flat out say, "I'm not believing you. What else you got?"
IT WORKS! Not only does it work, but I feel solid that I would be much less effective and successful at helping people if I didn't do this because people want to know you're aware of the situation and conscious about what you're trying to pull on them. They respect you more and like you more as long as you follow the rules about confrontation.
#1- Ask yourself why you want to call this person out on this particular issue. When I hear something I think might be fishy, I don't call it out immediately. I specifically pick and choose when to call someone out and when not. When you're getting ready to do this, you need to think, Am I wanting to call this out because I'm angry and tired of being treated like an idiot? If that's the case, go ahead and do it however you want to, but you have to realize when you do it this way, you're doing it for your agenda. You're not doing it to help your loved one.
If you've asked yourself this question and decided that you're calling it out because it's important and needs to be called out and not for your sake, we can get things moving in the right direction and on the right track.
#2- Never do the calling out or confrontation when you are upset. Don't confront someone in the heat of the moment. Let it settle, let it roll around in your brain a little bit, and think it through before you call it out because when you're emotional, you won't be able to think straight, and you're more likely to make a mistake, get defensive, or be reactive.
#3- Do this very sparingly. Be brief, say it quickly, and do not go on and on about it. Don't lecture about it, and don't turn it into a huge argument.
#4- Don't ask a question when you know the answer. If you know they were drinking, don't say, "Were you drinking?" say, "Hey, I saw that you were drinking." Stay calm but direct. Make a statement. It's not necessary to wait for a response from the person. Do the drive-by confrontation. This way doesn't leave room for a big argument or reactiveness or defensiveness. You set it out there and move on.
This allows them to process the situation, and decide how to react to your confrontation.
This is a crucial strategy you must do from time to time, and it is very effective. That's why it's paramount to do it the right way at the right time. As you can imagine, that involves effectively dealing with your anger about the situation.
(The Invisible Intervention, Rapid Relationship Repair, Recovery ToGo, RecoverU, Motivational Masterclass)