Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

How to Help Family Members Who Struggle with Drug Addiction

Drug addiction has been growing exponentially in recent years. Most of us know at least one if not several people who are struggling with this issue. Because it affects a person’s health, finances, and relationships, family support can play a crucial role in helping someone who is addicted to substances get the help they need.

Show Compassion

Avoid constantly criticizing people struggling with addiction. They know they have a problem, and most experience shame and guilt on a daily basis. While you don’t want to pretend that everything is fine, you can show empathy and understanding while not enabling the addicted person’s use or misuse of lethal substances. Listen when they want to open up about their addiction and show that you care.

Be Honest

Don’t sugarcoat an addiction problem. Discuss it openly and directly with the loved one. Avoid downplaying the situation or suggesting that it will get better by itself over time. It is not helpful to threaten an addicted person with homelessness, hunger, or illness if you have any contributory control over those things, such as giving the person a ride to homeless shelter or taking him or her to the doctor. But you can explain, when the situation is right, that these things can happen when an addiction remains uncontrolled.

Offer Support

Partner with the addicted loved one and offer to help within your means. You cannot likely afford to pay their rent or utility bills outright, you could offer to help the person fill out paperwork that would qualify him or her for financial assistance. You can help to explain legal documents if the person has an upcoming court hearing for any reason. You might also accompany the friend or family member to the doctor’s office for an evaluation or help the person find out about addiction assistance programs.

Consult Addiction Specialists

Encourage your friend or relative to contact an addiction specialist. This might be someone who works on a substance abuse hotline or who provides counseling for addiction. You might also suggest the addicted person consult a doctor for help, which may include a referral to an opioid addiction professional for in-patient or outpatient rehab assessment. Helping an addicted person find specialized help may literally be lifesaving to help prevent an overdose.

Addiction damages a person’s health and life circumstances. Providing ethical support while maintaining good boundaries could help someone find valuable resources to deal with addiction.

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