When family members or loved one’s abuse drugs or any other substance, it affects everyone they know. Their addiction can have emotional, psychological, financial, and environmental effects on the people who care about them most. One of the biggest struggle’s families face is when and how to help. There is a fine line when it comes to enabling and getting the help your family member needs.

Addiction is known as a “family disease” because of how deeply it affects everyone within a family. All it takes is one family member to have an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol for the functionality of a family to go down the drain. Many families struggle to talk about their loved one’s addiction and how it is affecting them, because it is not easy to discuss such personal topics. But that is the very reason that you must bring the issue to light. Not taking the time to address a family member’s addiction and the impact it is having on the rest of the family can be a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, many people who have questions about their family member’s drinking and/or drug abuse struggle to figure out how severe the problem is. Most addicts know the exact ways to hide their addiction from loved ones. This causes a domino effect the causes the turmoil in the family to grow. It can be easy to make excuses for certain behaviors and actions to normalize the family member’s substance abuse and/or deny that it is as serious as it is. That is why it is important to have a handle on the signs of addiction and substance abuse. Some of the symptoms or behavioral changes include:

·       Anti-Social Behavior

·       Becoming increasingly Secretive

·       Relationship Problems

·       Deteriorating Health or Patterns of Behavioral Change

·       Financial Changes

·       Neglecting Responsibilities

Once you have identified that there is in fact a problem to address, make sure you educate yourself as much as possible. It is not enough to tell your family member that you think he or she needs help. Chances are they have already been told this. It is most beneficial and effective when you are educated on the disease of addiction and what treatment options are available for your family member. It might seem like a large task to gather all that info on your own, but there are many resources that you can use to do so, such as SAMHSA.  

With addiction comes frustration. What you do not want to do is place blame, because honestly, who is to blame? Placing blame only makes an addict feel worse and can cause them to slip deeper into their addiction. People who are struggling with addiction are ashamed and frightened. They see themselves doing things that are out of character, but they feel powerless to stop. Some people struggling with addiction are so afraid to face their emotional terrors they would rather destroy themselves with substances.  It is important to keep a level head and know when it makes sense to seek outside help.

To help someone you know who you think may have a substance use problem, you first need to get assistance from a neutral party. You do not ever want them to feel ganged up on or that they are being tricked into something they are not ready to do. You always want to make sure that your family member feels comfortable. Seeking help from a sober coach, a licensed substance abuse counselor or other treatment scenarios is your best option. Experts believe that any number of programs can lead to success – if the person is willing to accept help from others and invest energy in working on recovery.

The biggest thing to remember when helping a family seek addiction recovery is not ever give up on them. You must remember that addiction is in fact a disease. Remember that recovery is still an everyday, lifelong responsibility. Know that there will be several great days and sometimes many difficult ones. The road of recovery is not one that is straight, rather one with lots of curves, hills, and bumps.