Help for Families of Addicts

Monday, October 24, 2022 | By Andrew Bramlett

Family facing abuse due to addiction

Every family has its own unique bond that can provide support during substance abuse issues. Family plays a significant role in the recovery of a person with substance use disorder.

If your loved one has an addiction, you may have questions and concerns, including how to deal with this situation in the best way possible for everyone involved. 

Identifying A Problem

It’s not always an easy task to identify substance abuse issues in a loved one. Generally, substance abuse begins with recreational use in a social setting, which devolves into abuse. 

The signs and symptoms someone experiences are also dependent on the substances they abuse and their individual body chemistry. 

Common physical signs of addiction can include: 

  • repetitive speech 
  • pupils being too large or too small 
  • excessive sniffing and runny nose 
  • ashen skin 
  • weight loss or weight gain 
  • lack of personal hygiene 

Typically behavioral symptoms of substance abuse include: 

  • missing work, school, or other responsibilities 
  • missing important engagements 
  • isolating or secretive behavior 
  • sleeping too much or too little 
  • legal issues 
  • relationship issues 
  • financial stress 
  • constantly talking about substance-related topics 

Generally exempted emotional signs of drug and alcohol abuse: 

  • irritability 
  • defensiveness 
  • loss of interest in favorite things 
  • easily confused 
  • blaming others 
  • diverting attention 
  • avoiding the topic when someone brings it up

If you are still questioning whether your family member has an issue with drugs or alcohol, there are three distinct ways to become more certain. If you’re loved one experiences the three Cs of addiction, they’ll likely:

  • Lose control over the amount and recurrent use of substances. 
  • Have extreme cravings that force them to use them.
  • Continue to abuse substances despite adverse consequences.

What Can Be Done To Cope With A Loved One’s Addiction?

One of the best ways to cope with your loved one’s addiction is to start an open conversation. When someone you love is drinking too much, using drugs, or struggling with a mental disorder, your acceptance and support can be the key to getting them into treatment. 

Starting an open, non-judgemental conversation can help them take the first step toward healing. Here are the steps to consider when you’re ready to talk: 

  1. Pick an appropriate time and place. We strongly recommend a private setting with limited distractions, such as your home or out on a nature walk. 
  2. Express what worries you, and don’t beat around the bush. Ask them how they feel about their behavior and express what makes you concerned. 
  3. Acknowledge how they’re feeling and actively listen. Listen to understand, not to respond. Remain open to what they’re going through. 
  4. Offer you support. Help them locate and enroll in an appropriate treatment service.  Reassure them by telling them that substance use disorders are treatable. 
  5. Don’t rush it. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Continue to reach out and offer to listen and help. 

What Are The Addiction Recovery Steps?

It’s crucial to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to help someone overcome their substance abuse. It will take time and patience and potentially some relapses. 

Generally, there are thought to be five steps to addiction recovery: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. 

Find Family Addiction Resources Near You

If you or a loved one is struggling with family issues due to drug or alcohol abuse, Journey Pure is here to help. We can offer free substance abuse assessments and recommendations to treatment programs near you. Contact our addiction treatment helpline for more information. 


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Parents and Families

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders

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