How Families Can Help an Addicted Loved One

By on December 18, 2017

Helping a loved one through a period of addiction is difficult even under the best circumstances, and the circumstances are rarely ideal. People suffering from addiction may be in denial about the severity of their situation, and they may be too embarrassed to ask for help. However, their friends and loved ones should still offer help and support whenever possible.

Whether you are first broaching the topic of addiction or providing support for someone who has been struggling with addiction for some time, the best way to do so is with patience, love, and care.

Get Educated

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Learning about addiction can help you understand what your loved one is going through and why they’ve taken this path. Knowing more about the chemical and psychological causes of addiction and how to combat them will also help you to support your loved one in the right way and give them a sense of hope for the future. Educating yourself and other family members about addiction can help you to avoid blaming the addict by looking holistically at the many causes and effects of addiction.

Use Your Head

It’s important to keep your cool and approach the issue of addiction logically. Though you may feel angry at and disappointed in the addict, avoid yelling or name-calling. It will be difficult for both of you, but shouting and becoming angry only leads to resentment and damaged relationships in the long run.

Avoid Triggering the Addict

If possible, keep your home free of your loved one’s drug of choice, whether that’s alcohol, prescription painkillers or some other trigger. This can be especially difficult over the holidays when people tend to socialize with alcohol, but removing these substances from your addicted loved one’s home will help them on the path to recovery.

Help your Loved One Relax and Stay Healthy

Addicts often use in response to stress or anxiety. Do what you can to reduce these negative feelings. Prepare regular meals and eat them as a family, enforce reasonable bed and wake times, and plan fun activities that help the addict get his or her mind off the situation. You may also want to encourage them to take up yoga or meditation to help them relax, or exercise regularly to maintain good physical and mental health.

Don’t Provide Excuses or Cover

One of the hardest things you may have to do is allow an addict to face the consequences of their addiction. Before the addict can fully realize the seriousness of their addiction, they need to see how damaging the problem really is. Don’t shelter the addict from angry friends and family members who have been wronged. If the addict is facing legal or financial trouble, it may even be better in the long run to allow them to face and fix these problems with your support.

Go to Therapy or Group Meetings

Therapy and support groups are a great tool for addicts, but they can help members of their support system too. Attend family therapy sessions to better understand the addict’s needs and develop systems to support them. It may also be easier for your loved one to attend difficult therapy sessions if you are there to provide a good example.

Protect Yourself

Addicts have the potential to hurt their loved ones deeply. No matter how much you want to support your family member, set healthy boundaries. You can’t provide support if you are in danger yourself.

The road to wellness is long and difficult both for the addicted person and those who have chosen to stand by them. However, with proper support, many addicts are capable of making a full recovery and living a healthy life.


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How Families Can Help an Addicted Loved One