How to Support a Loved One Suffering with Addiction

By Misty Long
Monday, February 11, 2019 at 12:13 pm in
mother setting boundaries with daughter

How can you support a loved one suffering with addiction?

Addiction does not discriminate against its victims. People of any age, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or socioeconomic status can be impacted by addiction. 

It can be excruciating watching someone you care for battle with substance abuse. You want to support them as much as possible without enabling them. You want to help them get the treatment they need and provide emotional support as they pursue a life free from the ravages of addiction.  

Here are some things to consider while you are trying to support your loved one battling with addiction.

Take care of yourself.

Before you can support your loved one, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. You may feel pressured to take care of the addict in your life and in the process lose sight of your own needs.

Taking time to take care of your body will boost your metabolism and provide strength to show up for yourself and your family. Drink plenty of fresh water, eat well and get enough sleep. Continue your hobbies or develop new ones. 

Taking care of your own mental health is vital. If you have a loved one in the throes of addiction, you are likely in an emotional whirlwind. From anger to betrayal to guilt and shame, your emotions can run the gamut. Talking with a therapist can help put things in perspective. 

Set boundaries. 

Setting boundaries and following through with them is essential when supporting a loved one who is battling addiction. 

With boundaries you are less likely to become entangled in the chaos of the addiction. You will keep the focus on your own well-being, and the well-being of your family members, and get off the emotional roller coaster. Free from the extremes of emotions, you’ll think more clearly and rationally, and be able to set healthy examples for your family. You will also give your drug addicted loved one reason to seek help.

Hold firm in your words and actions, and don’t make idle threats. In time, you may find you rely on your loved one less and less as you continue to stand strong. Eventually your loved one may be forced to accept responsibility for their actions motivating them to seek help. 

Educate yourself on addiction

Educating yourself on addiction can help you help yourself and your loved one. Addiction is a cunning disease that engulfs the whole individual and impacts everyone around them. Knowing the signs of addiction as well as how to set healthy boundaries is important. 

Get professional help with an intervention

If you plan to have an intervention, have a professional with you or engage in family therapy. Hosting an intervention on your own without the support of a professional can lead to the release of negative emotions without a way to manage responses. Having a professional available will help assist everyone in being heard. 

Attend family therapy sessions

Once your loved one is in treatment, attend the family therapy sessions if they are available. Just because a person is in treatment does not mean the emotional wounds from addiction disappear. Ongoing family-focused treatment is necessary for both the individual and the family to heal.

Attend support groups

An excellent way to learn how to help your addicted loved one is to attend support groups like Al-ANON and Nar-Anon. Here, families can get support and guidance from other families who have been through the cycle of addiction.

If you have questions, or need help, call us at 330-330-8777. We’re here to help.


Additional reading: How to spot addictive behavior

SAMHSA (2012) Alcohol and drug addiction happens in the best of families.
SAMHSA (2013) Family Therapy Can Help.