How Can I Support My Loved One Who is Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol?

Contrary to what many believe, addiction doesn’t just impact the individual who is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse — addiction is a serious, life-threatening disease that affects the addict’s family, friends and co-workers.

If you’re loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and you want to help them, here’s some tips on what you can do, and what you should avoid.

What to do to to help support your addicted loved one:

  • Be honest. Let your loved one know that you’re aware of their substance abuse issues, and that their drug and alcohol use is having a negative impact on not only their health and wellness, but your relationship with them.
  • Focus on building trust. It’s all too common for addicts to engage in behaviors that erodes trust with their families and friends. While you can’t control their behavior, you can let them know through your own behaviors that you are a trustworthy, reliable person who has their best interest at heart.
  • Be compassionate. Substance abuse disorder is a disease, and people living with substance abuse deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. While certain choices can lead to an increased risk of developing substance abuse issues, nobody chooses to be an addict.
  • Educate yourself. Take the time to learn about drug and alcohol addiction. The more you know what your loved one is dealing with, the better you’ll be able to support them in their recovery efforts.

What not to do when you’re loved one has substance abuse issues:

  • Blame. While it can be tempting to point fingers, shaming, blaming and criticizing your loved one for their addiction will only dissolve the trust you’ve developed with them, which is counter-productive to their health and wellness.
  • Expect instant results. If your loved one chooses to enter a drug and alcohol treatment program, don’t fall into the trap of expecting a ‘quick fix’ for their substance abuse issues. Addiction is a lifelong, chronic condition that can’t be ‘cured’, but rather is treated, through ongoing interventions, treatments and self-care.

Realize that you’re not alone

And keep in mind that you’re not alone. Drug and alcohol addiction is far more prevalent than you might realize. According to a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, at any given time approximately 4% of American adults have an active drug use disorder, and one in 10 have had, or will have, a serious substance abuse problem.

Here at Baystate Recovery Center, we don’t just treat people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol — our family support group can help you learn about addiction, make connections with other families, and develop practical coping strategies that make it easier for you to support your loved one.

Contact our addiction specialists today to learn more about how we can help you and your loved one along their recovery journey.