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How Can I Help a Family Member Struggling with Addiction?

by Landmark Recovery

April 22, 2019

Many individuals may wonder how can my family help an addict when they are struggling with an addiction. Families can feel helpless and may not know how they can assist their loved one with the disease that they are suffering from.

However, the family component is one of the most important aspects when it comes to recovery. Family support can be the difference between achieving long-term sobriety or relapsing and falling back into the downward spiral of addiction.

There are a number of ways to help a family member or loved who is struggling with addiction, or a loved one who has recently gone through treatment.


How Family Members Can Help an Addict

Two young adults sitting together outside

It may be obvious that your loved one has a problem with drinking or substance abuse, however, they may not realize it themselves. It may be up to you to open your loved one’s eyes to their substance abuse. This can be difficult as many will take offense to people being critical of their lifestyle, but your loved one’s safety is the most important thing and if their substance use puts this at risk, it needs to be discussed.

One of the best ways to help your loved one overcome addiction is to prevent relapse after treatment. Addressing triggers that may cause urges to use again and avoiding them is one of the best ways to prevent addiction. However, many people in recovery will experience a relapse, the important thing is to help your loved one get back on track if one of these episodes does occur.


Staging An Intervention

The best way to go about talking to your loved one or family member about their substance abuse is through an intervention. If you need to learn about what’s an intervention, there are great sources that can help you and your loved one. While some interventions can be intense, and even hostile in some cases, they can still be successful in helping your loved one understand that their vices may be hurting family ties.

Setting up an intervention is key to helping the event go smoothly. You’ll want to gather family and friends who have been affected by your loved one’s substance abuse and discuss what you will talk about on the day of the intervention. Remember, when the intervention takes place, do not raise your voice and keep a peaceful mood. You want to remind your loved one that you are doing this because you care about them. It is also important on the day of the intervention to listen to what your loved one is saying. Don’t just drown them out with words, make sure that they are being heard too.


Seeking Treatment

After an intervention, your loved one may agree to go into treatment, however, if this doesn’t happen it is important to keep talking to them about their substance abuse issues to try to push them in the right direction. With that said, if you loved one does want to accept treatment you’ll need to find a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that can provide them with the care that they need.

Depending on the severity of your loved one’s illness, your loved one may need to go through a detox program to safely go through the withdrawal process. Similarly, going through this early part of treatment will make it easier for your loved one during the next step of recovery when they will be exposed to a variety of individual and group therapy sessions to learn more about addiction and help create a sober support network.

Many treatment centers have begun to use family therapy as a tool that can be used to heal the family ties that addiction has weakened. Along with providing a time for open dialogue between family members it also gives everyone a chance to learn more about addiction, relapse, and the long road of recovery. Not only will everyone become more educated about the nuances of addiction and recovery, it gives the family an opportunity to understand what they can do to help post-rehab.


Helping After Rehab

How can a family help an addict? Getting them to join an IOP group after rehab is a good way to help prevent relapse.

Addiction is a lifelong disease. Just because someone you know has gone through rehabilitation and may currently be sober does not mean that they don’t feel urges to use again. In fact, many people who go through rehab end up relapsing. With that said, family structure can help those who are newly sober stay off drugs or receive treatment following a relapse.


Preventing Relapse

It should be noted that relapse, while it can be a normal part of recovery, is still very dangerous and can even turn out to be deadly. This is especially true if a person uses as much of the drug as they did before quitting. Their body is no longer adapted to their previous drug use and overdoses are likely to happen if this is the case. Because of how dangerous drug relapses are, it is important for family members to promote a safe environment to help their loved ones avoid slipping once again into the throes of addiction.

There are many ways to help prevent relapses for those you love. One of the best ways to do this is to promote a healthy lifestyle. Whether it is yoga, hiking, weight lifting, or more, exercise is a great way to help keep someone’s mind off of other things. Likewise, keeping your loved one away from triggers that may give them urges to use again is a good way to prevent relapse. Avoiding parties, and getting rid of things around the house that may be triggers, such as beer or liquor bottles is a good way to promote sobriety in the household.

It is also a good idea to get your loved one’s close friends involved in their sobriety as well. Friends can help to keep your loved one sober and help them avoid being around stimuli that creates urges and cravings to use again. If your loved one’s friends are aware of the journey that your family member is on, they can help provide the social support and structure that long-term sobriety demands.


How To Help After Relapse

Relapses do happen. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 40 to 60 percent of people who go through drug treatment experience relapses. With that said, just because someone relapses does not mean that they don’t want to be sober. As mentioned before, recovery is a lifelong effort and, for a lot of people, relapse is just a speed bump on the road to recovery.

If your loved one does experience a relapse, it is important to get them into treatment once again to promote the sobriety that they can achieve. Many might be apprehensive to do this as some may not think it will work. However, the fear of relapsing again should not get in the way of trying treatment again.

“A return to drug abuse indicates that treatment needs to be started again or adjusted, and your friend might benefit from a different treatment approach,” said NIDA.

The role of the family is to support your loved one as they deal with one of the hardest things in their life: sobriety. It is important to show that you are there for them and that you care about their well-being. Having someone show support and love toward them especially during the early months of sobriety can be the difference between treatment sticking or a relapse.


In Conclusion

As mentioned before, drug and alcohol recovery is something that your loved one or family member will deal with throughout their entire life. Sobriety doesn’t always stick, in fact, many people need to go through treatment multiple times and many people will experience a relapse. It is important to stick by your loved one during the ups and the downs of sobriety. At Landmark Recovery, our staff and facilities can help your loved one achieve initial sobriety and can help provide them with access to sober support tools and people that will promote long-term recovery. Landmark is here to help your family. If you would like to learn more about a personalized treatment plan, please visit our website and reach out to our admissions staff today.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.