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Supporting Right: Communicating With Loved Ones in Duress

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Urges, cravings, anxiety, depression, panic, and more are all incredibly intense feelings that are difficult to navigate throughout addiction recovery. Fortunately, a person’s supports often play an integral role in helping process them. Communicating with loved ones under duress, whether anxious, depressed, or otherwise mentally and emotionally tried, is an essential skill for helping a loved one process these profoundly uncomfortable emotional states. Doing so can also help an individual maintain their hard-earned sobriety during these difficult times.

Communication Is the Key to Success

Communication is the lynchpin of all types of relationships. Practical communication skills are paramount to connecting with personal friends, developing familial relationships, and even navigating professional atmospheres. Learning the right way to communicate in each situation makes a huge difference, and helping a loved one under duress requires dedicated communication skills.

One may have to change how they speak or act to effectively communicate with a loved one in such an emotionally fragile atmosphere. The presence of urges, cravings, stressors, and more are all challenging to process, and anxiety and fear are common. Learning to communicate appropriately during this time is essential for helping rather than hurting and ensuring that loved ones have the resources and support to navigate these trying times safely.

Stay Calm

Feelings of anxiety and duress are stressful events for all, and it is paramount that supports remain calm to assess and provide the necessary care. It is impossible to make the most educated decisions as a support if one is equally stressed and anxious about the situation as the loved one in need of help.

Taking a few seconds to calm oneself and practice breathing techniques can provide the time and clarity needed to effectively analyze and address the situation. This is helpful for providing the best support to a loved one struggling with intense urges, anxiety, or even panic.

Keep a Soft Voice

Even the most caring of words can be misconstrued if projected in an inappropriate tone. Speaking loudly can add to feelings of anxiety, frustration, or fear, regardless of the words spoken. Ensuring that one can communicate in a soft, supportive tone is paramount before raising one’s voice in the situation.

Keep Questions Simple

Duress and emotional turmoil can present many intense emotions, and open-ended questions can be tough to process. While questions like “how are you feeling?” may seem appropriate, they can also be difficult to answer. There can be a mix of complicated emotions, stressors, thoughts, and more, all coinciding. 

Instead, asking more direct, simple, even yes-or-no questions can be more effective at gleaning information from a loved one. “Are you feeling anxious?” or “Do you need to leave?” can be very helpful. They put slight pressure on those experiencing these emotional turmoils while still providing support with enough information to take further action.

Avoid Accusations

Times of emotional turmoil are very confusing to navigate, and accusatory language can worsen the situation. Even those going through intense anxiety, depression, or panic may know that their thoughts or perceptions are illogical but will still experience the feelings engendered regardless. Accusations can unnecessarily worsen or complicate a situation while providing little actual support.

Don’t Act Unless Prompted

Times of emotional duress can distort one’s perception, and even innocuous, innocent, or helpful gestures can be misinterpreted. Acting without being prompted can add additional confusion to the situation. In some cases, this can mean clearly and calmly explaining what one is about to do, such as reaching toward an individual to help physically support them only after receiving permission or explaining how one intends to help. It is essential to wait for some acknowledgment before taking these kinds of actions to avoid misinterpretations.

For some, a simple, subtle nod may be all that is needed. Waiting for this confirmation can help strengthen relationships and ensures that however one is supporting, it is not being misconstrued while putting some agency in the hands of those experiencing such a stressful time.

Know Your Limits

Supports are integral to a loved one’s emotional health and sobriety, and they play an important role each and every day. Supports are not professionals, and it is critical to know what one can handle and what one may need assistance with. 

Contacting dedicated professionals or treatment facilities helps individuals navigate a particularly trying time and helps decide the next steps that can be taken to ensure their safety and sobriety. For some, a return to residential treatment may be most effective, while others may need some tips to get through the moment and then address the situation in outpatient therapy

Knowing one’s limits can also ensure that they are getting the best support possible, and there is nothing wrong with contacting professionals to navigate a fragile situation. Recovery from addiction and any ongoing mental health disorders is a complex process. Getting the right help for the problem is one of the most vital things a support can do in any given situation. 

Supports play an invaluable role in addiction recovery as they aid those battling addiction in several ways. However, being an active support also means facing stressful events and trying times yourself. Knowing how to navigate fragile situations in a safe and informed manner is crucial. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, located in Santa Ana, Ca, we champion the supports who are able to help loved ones through the trials of addiction recovery. We will work with you to educate you as much as your loved one throughout detox, residential, or outpatient care. We are committed to creating a safe environment within the facility as well as strengthening families and supports. For more information on how we can personalize a program for you or your loved one, call to speak to one of our caring, trained staff members today at (714) 492-1119.

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