How to Deal With a Loved One’s Addiction

When someone you care about is struggling with addiction, life is anything but easy. You may feel like you’re losing the person you know and love, and you may also feel deeply hurt by their decision to keep hurting themselves and others with their substance abuse.

But it’s important to keep in mind that addiction is an illness. Specifically, the American Psychiatric Association states that addiction is a brain disease that leads to changes in brain structure. This is what causes its sufferers to have such intense cravings, and it is also what makes drug abuse so challenging to quit. 

While this illness is difficult to control, it can be overcome with the right rehab program and continuing care. You can help your loved one get the treatment they need by communicating effectively and taking actions to prevent the situation from causing more devastation. Read on to learn how to go about this as safely and effectively as possible.

Identify the Problems Their Addiction Is Causing

If you’re going to have any chance of curbing their drug abuse, you’re going to need to clearly convey to your loved one how their addiction is affecting everyday life. It’s one thing to say “Addiction and drug abuse are bad”, but chances are they are already aware of the stigma. Instead, it is much more effective to go into detail about how your loved one’s behavior is actually having a negative effect on your life. 

While every situation is different, many family and friends are affected by addiction in the following ways:

  • You feel used and manipulated emotionally and often financially (in some cases, physically).
  • Trust has dramatically decreased or no longer exists.
  • Important events are missed, and plans are often canceled.
  • You are becoming depressed and anxious over constantly worrying about their health and safety.
  • If children are involved, you fear the long-term emotional effects on them.

Before you take any decisive actions, it’s a good idea to write down all of the ways your loved one’s addiction has affected you (and others). Have it with you when you do talk with them in order to stay focused and level headed. 

What to Do When Your Loved One Is Struggling From Addiction

You will need to talk with your loved one and express your concerns about their substance abuse. Depending on the situation, you may want to do an intervention with other family members and friends there for support. If your loved one can see just how their addiction has been affecting others, they are more likely to accept help and attend a rehab program.

There are many ways you can ensure that this goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Talk to your loved one at a time when they are likely to be sober and as clear minded as possible. 
  • Stay calm and speak directly, without becoming angry or raising your voice.
  • Consider bringing in the help of a professional for an intervention to keep things focused.
  • Have everyone participating in the talk / intervention write down what they want to say ahead of time.
  • Be prepared with real rehab program / addiction treatment options for your loved one. 
  • Stay positive, and make it clear that you still love them, and that there is still hope if they agree to getting help.
  • Be safe. Sometimes drug abuse can cause people to behave irrationally or violently, even if they would not do so otherwise. Always have backup with you, as well as a list of emergency numbers you can contact if need be.

how to deal with a loved ones addiction

Don’t Neglect Yourself

Throughout everything, you need to make sure you are still taking care of yourself. It’s common for family members and friends to start neglecting themselves in order to devote all their efforts to helping the addicted individual, but this only allows the substance abuse to have more power.

Make sure you are getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep. You may also feel better equipped to handle the challenges of each day by seeing a therapist or counselor. Your health and wellbeing will also help serve as an example to your loved one of what a life without substance abuse can be like. 

What If My Loved One Doesn’t Get Help?

Your loved one is still their own person, and ultimately it is their decision — and theirs alone — to go to rehab for their addiction. While the good news is that they are more likely to accept help when you are able to effectively communicate with them, the truth is that there are cases where loved ones will refuse despite our best efforts. 

But if this is the case, that doesn’t mean that you have no course of action left. In addition to confronting your loved one about their drug abuse, you will therefore need to decide what you will do should they refuse to seek treatment. Tell them what will happen in this case, then follow through. This can be exceptionally difficult to do (especially when it includes cutting them off emotionally or financially, etc.), but it’s the very definition of “tough love”. In many cases, people do come back around and reevaluate their decisions once they see how serious their family members and friends are about them seeking help. 

We’re Here for You Through Coping With Drug Addiction in Your Family

At our addiction treatment center in Malibu, Rise in Malibu, we understand how difficult it can be to have a loved one who suffers from addiction. Whether you have questions about how to deal with your loved one’s addiction, or you would like to explore treatment options for them, we invite you to reach out. Our team offers a wide range of comprehensive substance abuse treatment plans, and we believe that everyone has the power to become sober again with the right care. 


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