Renaissance Ranch

Learn How to Speak to Others About Substance Addiction

Mar 25, 2022

Imagine you’re standing in the front of a room with an untold number of people staring at you. What is your first reaction? Public speaking is different for everyone. Maybe you’re comfortable talking in front of others, sharing information or stories. Perhaps the idea of getting up in front of people and discussing any topic, especially an issue like alcohol or drug use disorders, is intimidating, though. 

Speaking to an audience about a life experience or a substance use disorder (SUD) is challenging. You never know who will connect with you or who will disagree. A 12-Step meeting requires you to talk to others about complex events in your life. Yet, unlike talking in a 12-Step meeting, public speaking about an SUD occurs in a mixed crowd. Not everyone will share or understand the effects of alcohol or drug use. For this reason, learning how to talk to others about an SUD can help you provide information without feelings of anxiety or dread.

Speaking in a Meeting vs. Public Speaking

Perhaps you know what speaking at a 12-Step meeting is like. You understand you’re not obligated to speak. If you do decide to share, however, you’re in a safe, nonjudgmental space. The other group members are there to listen. 

Public speaking requires you to speak, and if you speak from the heart and with confidence, you can potentially help shape opinions and inform people who want to learn about substance addiction. 

The Importance of Speaking About an SUD

A person with an SUD isn’t weak or immoral. They have a disease that they can’t control. Your decision to speak about an SUD can guide some to seek substance addiction treatment. Your speech can also help break down barriers and erode the stigma of an SUD. If your address helps one person, that person can begin the process of becoming substance-free.

Share Knowledge Share Confidence

The decision to speak in public about an alcohol or drug use disorder is brave. Your willingness to share your experiences before and after substance addiction treatment is often motivated by personal reasons. Maybe you think you can help others as they search for ways to help themselves or a loved one with an SUD. Perhaps you’re involved in a program that educates children, teens, or adults about the dangers of substance use. 

Whatever your reason for speaking is, you will be put in front of people and expected to talk. Use your strength to increase self-confidence when you’re in front of an audience. One way to help you feel confident is to dress for success – put on your Sunday best or business casual clothes. An article in The Wall Street Journal found that how you dress affects how others see you and how you feel about yourself. A bonus to dressing up is when you feel confident, you can process abstract thoughts better.

Informing Others

If you have ever attended a conference, you know that listening to another person share their findings or story can increase your understanding of a topic. Do what a speaker at a conference does; practice what you’re going to say. You may also want to record your speech so you can listen to it and make any necessary changes. Additionally, if you feel your talk needs statistics or scientific support, take the time to do your homework. Finally, be prepared for any questions that may follow. 

Standing in front of a group to vocalize your knowledge and experience builds a bridge between you and people who want to know more. You have the potential to touch others’ lives. Because of your ability, strength, and willingness to broach a challenging topic, you make getting help easier for another. 

Sources of Reliable Information

Without public speakers, people may rely on social media sites or the internet to gather information. Unfortunately, these sources typically aren’t the most reliable for obtaining factual information. As a speaker, not only are you bringing a topic to life, you’re providing trustworthy and helpful information. In addition, while speaking to a crowd, you have the opportunity to engage with a group. 

Use your truth to guide you. Once you show your truth, your audience can invest themselves in your talk. Throughout your speech, you should create a sense of trust and approachability. The relationship you form with your audience can also help you gauge the audience’s acceptance, reaction, or disagreement with your discussion. Once you establish the crowd’s mood, you can modify your speech. The skill of reading and connecting with your audience can only occur in person.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Not every speaking engagement will go smoothly. Being prepared for the worst helps you stay in the moment and remain calm. Spend some time going over scenarios that involve accidents, technology issues, and embarrassing moments. Once you prepare yourself for the possibility of something going wrong, you decrease your chance of feeling out of control. Furthermore, take the opportunity to tour the room before you give your speech. That way, you’ll know the layout and can feel more at ease.

Public speaking puts you in the spotlight. While some can relish the thought of talking in front of an audience, you may not. Don’t let anxiety stop you from letting others know your truth. People want to learn about alcohol or drug use disorders. The decision to engage in public speaking events creates opportunities to build a relationship with your audience. Speaking your truth can generate trust and invest the listener in learning more about a substance use disorder. For some, your speech is the guidance they need to seek help at a substance addiction treatment center. You don’t know who you may guide to seek help. At Renaissance Treatment Centers, we work with you to understand your substance use disorder. Our approach of a male-only center provides the atmosphere necessary to focus on substance abuse issues. We base our care on gospel principles and the 12-Step approach. For more information, call (801) 308-8898.