4. Communicating Effectively with your Relative and Setting Limits

Tips for communication with your relative


Choose an appropriate time

Choose a time:

    when the person is not using substances. 
    make sure you are both calm and not emotionally vulnerable.
    ensure neither of you is in a hurry.

Choose a neutral place

Choose a place:

    that is not associated with using substances or with fights
    where you will be safe.

Listen and validate

    Listen attentively to the other person.
    Do not interrupt.
    Do not judge.
    Paraphrase what you have heard and seek clarification when necessary.
    Verbalize the feelings, thoughts and actions of the other person that make sense to you.
    Communicate understanding of the other person’s perspective.

Take responsibility

    Use “I” statements when talking about your feelings and needs.
    Acknowledge your part in the problem.
    Offer to contribute to solving the problem and to compromise when possible.

Be specific

    Avoid sweeping negative statements about the person who has a substance use problem.
    Avoid general statements such as “you never” or “you always.”
    State how you would like the person to behave.

Be positive and calm

    Word your requests in a positive way.
    Speak in a calm tone of voice.
    Avoid critical, sarcastic, demeaning or blaming remarks.

Download this Tips for communicating with relative activity.