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Dealing With a Loved One’s Addiction

Editor Dan Schimmel, LCSW, CAP
Created On
Updated On

When you have a loved one that is suffering from addiction it can be a huge strain on yourself and your family. It is important to remember that before you can help your loved one in their battle,  you must first help yourself to be sure you are mentally and physically able to give them the support that they need to get sober. You can not force your loved one to get help, they have to be ready and willing to accept the help that is offered to them, along with the on going support you are willing to offer them throughout their recovery.

Support For You

Not only does your loved one need support throughout his/her recovery, you do too. Dealing with a loved one’s addiction can be stressful to say the least. You, and your family, can turn to support groups like Al-Anon (designed for the family and friends of alcoholics) or Alateen (designed for teenagers and preteens who are affected a alcoholism in their family) for help. These are free groups, that are open to the public, with meetings offered on a weekly basis all throughout the United States.

Understanding Your Loved One’s  Problem Addiction

Al-non and Alateen support groups will help you to better understand your loved one’s problem with addiction. Many spouses, children, parents, and close relatives of an addict will feel as if they are responsible for their loved ones addiction. These support groups will help you to realize that you really are not responsible for it. No matter how hard you have tried in the past to get your loved one to stop, you will begin to understand why you can’t make them get sober. Your loved on is living with a disease, they must be ready to get sober in order to be successful in their recovery. You will also develop new effective ways to cope as your friend or family member faces the consequences of addiction, and hopefully when they enter into treatment to begin their recovery.

How To Help Your Loved One

If your loved one is not ready to get the help they need to get sober, despite your offers to help, it may be time for an intervention. This is where family and close friends gather with the person with addiction to discuss the issue. Typically the intervention process will be lead by a specialist, helping everyone to make their feelings and concerns for their loved one’s addiction clear. The specialist will also help your loved one to understand the danger of his/her addiction, making treatment readily available if he/she is ready to accept.

There are two types of interventions use; tradition and contemporary.

  • The traditional intervention approach, those holding the intervention begin by asking the the person suffering from addiction to be quiet and simply listen. The addict simply has no say in the discussion, and is often given an ultimatum to in a way force them into accepting help and treatment.
  • The contemporary intervention approach, allows the person with addiction can voice concerns without fear of reproach. This approach uses various devices to gain the interest of the person with addiction so that the family doesn’t have to cut ties or support.

Regardless to the intervention approach used, they will share common elements. Intervention allows family and loved ones of the addict to recount how the problem with addiction has affected each of them. The objective of intervention is to confront their loved one with the consequences of the addiction, helping them to overcome their denial and accept the help that is being offered to them. This is a very delicate process, it should be preformed with the support of an intervention specialist to help ensure things go smoothly and your loved on gets the help he/she needs.


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