The wounds created by substance abuse are felt not only be the addicted individual but by the circle of people who love them. Those witness to the consequences of their loved one’s substance use may be in for years-long suffering, fear, and shame. They may themselves suffer financial hardships or become entangled in legal issues related to their loved one’s compulsive drug use. The addiction can impact every interaction between the individual and their family members and close friends, even if it is rarely discussed outright.
Family members and other loved ones of a person struggling with a substance use disorder may be at a loss for how to begin the conversation about getting help. Our family resource guides provided here can provide information on talking to a loved one productively and arranging treatment.
- Guide for Families
- Guide for Parents
- Guide for Spouses
- Guide for Children
- Guide for Friends
- Guide for Colleagues
In the guides above, you can find general information on addiction, as well as information on:
- Intervening when your child is using substances.
- Beginning a conversation about treatment with your loved one.
- Creating clear expectations and consequences.
- What to think about when you’re choosing a treatment program.
- What to know about your loved one’s time in treatment.
- How family therapy works.
- The role that family plays in recovery.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “family and friends can play critical roles in motivating individuals with drug problems to enter and stay in treatment.”1 This does not mean that someone else’s addiction is your responsibility, but it does mean that you can support your loved one and talk to them periodically about considering treatment or at least seeing a doctor. It also means that at the point that your family member does agree to enter treatment, your involvement in their recovery can be very beneficial.
Being involved in your loved one’s recovery can take many forms, including:
- Approaching them honestly about the need for treatment and helping them to find recovery resources.
- Visiting them in rehab and showing encouragement for the steps they’re taking to get help.
- Participating in family therapy with your loved one.
- Reading your loved one’s aftercare and relapse prevention plans and helping them take the steps that are outlined, such as attending regular meetings.
Addiction is a family disease, but the family can also be a huge part of recovery. In fact, the role of the family is increasingly seen as a large part of an individual’s recovery, and work on the family has become a main theme of many treatment approaches.2 While you are not the cause of your loved one’s addiction and you certainly can’t cure it, you can be an integral part of your loved one’s efforts to get and stay sober.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2004. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39.) Chapter 1 Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy.