5 Steps to Help a Family Member with Addiction


Substance abuse is an epidemic that affects children and adults alike. It is a disorder that can hurt your relationships, career, and health. Discovering that a family member is addicted can cause confusion and anger.

Keep reading to discover how to help a family member struggling with a drug addiction.

How to Tell if a Family Member is Addicted to Drugs

When a family member is abusing drugs they may appear withdrawn, in poor health, or engage in risky behavior. Substance abuse affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether legally or illegally obtained, drugs can interrupt your livelihood and fracture a family.

Here are some common signs of drug addiction:

  • Requiring more of a drug because of a built-up tolerance
  • Becoming ill, depressed, or experiencing tremors when not taking the drug
  • Becoming more withdrawn and appearing less at social or recreational activities
  • Not upholding work, school, or life responsibilities
  • Stealing or borrowing money to pay for drugs
  • Going to more than one doctor for a prescription
  • Sleeping an abnormal amount
  • Drastic weight loss
  • Diminished health or hygiene

How to Help a Family Member With an Addiction

Recognizing a problem is just the first step. Here are some tips on how to help a family member with an addiction.

1. Gather Knowledge on Addiction and Treatment Options

Once you’ve determined that there is a problem, you’ll want to educate yourself on what addiction is and isn’t. Movies and television can give you preconceived notions about substance abuse and who it affects.

Answering the question “What is substance abuse?” and learning who it affects and why can help you get your family members the right treatment options.

For some, a facility with 24 hr care is the best option. For others, out-patient treatment may be the way to go. Find a facility that uses proven methods for addiction treatment.

2. Discuss the Situation with Trusted Family Members

Speak with other trusted family members if you feel that someone you love may be struggling with substance abuse. They can confirm or assuage your suspicions. Helping an addicted family member can be stressful. Involving another party can alleviate the stress and introduce new, more effective manners of coping.

3. Have a Discussion with the Addicted Party

Use compassion when discussing the concerning behavior you’ve witnessed. Avoiding blaming or shaming them for their substance abuse. It’s possible that they have been trying to cope with it and have lost a handle on their substance use. Us language that is encouraging and provide options for them to seek help.

Let them know that you support their recovery efforts and that you care for them.

4. Maintain Your Family Life and Daily Routines

The road to recovery is not traveled overnight. When caring for another person, remember to maintain your routines. This will help to reduce stress and maintain a positive outlook on the situation.

Join a support group for family members of people with substance abuse issues. Others in similar situations can help you and your family cope with the anger, frustration, and confusion caused by addiction.

5. Set Healthy Boundaries

Last but not least, remember to set boundaries for what you will and will not accept from your family member.

Let them know that you support their recovery but you will not enable their drug use. Setting boundaries helps to maintain control of your life and helps loved ones struggling with addiction to choose to get help. Talk to a counselor for advice on how to cope with the addiction of a loved one.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The best you can do for an addicted family member is to get help. Talk to a qualified professional before speaking to your loved one about their substance abuse. They can give you advice on finding the best path to help your family members make a full recovery.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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