How to Support a Loved One During Substance Abuse Treatment

In the United States, 46% of adults have had a family member or close friend that is addicted to drugs or has been in the past. Drug addiction, past or present, affects more than just the person with the addiction. When we have a loved one going through substance abuse treatment, there are many ways that we can offer support and care while they get treatment. Do you want to learn more about steps we can take to support our loved ones during treatment?
Keep reading this guide for the top things we can start doing to help our loved ones as they recover from substance abuse disorders.

Get Your Own Support

As we help our loved ones recover from substance abuse issues, we must learn to take care of ourselves first. Substance abuse disorders not only affect those using the substances but also everyone that they are close to as well.

Seeing our loved ones deal with substance abuse can be stressful and overwhelming. Because of this, many of us put the needs of our loved ones above our own and will do anything to help them recover. Prioritizing your loved one’s needs over your own can result in burnout, mental health difficulties, and other issues. To prevent this, we must take care of our own needs to be better equipped to help our loved ones take care of their needs.
There are many support options for family members and friends of addicts, so finding these resources can help us through the process.

Remember That They are Human

We must also remember that our loved ones are human, even if they mistreat us while using substances. Addiction is like many other diseases. While it is totally normal for us to get frustrated with our loved ones during their recovery, it is not alright to disown them or treat them like a monster. Shaming our loved ones will not help them recover and will only lead to worse problems.

Establish Open and Honest Communication

Establishing open and honest communication is essential when we support loved ones going through addiction recovery. While it can be frustrating, having open communication can help us set healthy boundaries with our loved ones. For example, we should always use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. This way, we will not be blaming our loved ones but instead talking about how their actions make us feel. When we work to improve our communication, we also need to find ways to improve non-verbal communication. We can do this with body language and other forms of expression.

Learn More About Substance Abuse

There is so much we do not know about substance abuse, like many other chronic illnesses. However, the more we learn about substance abuse, the better we can support our loved ones and help them through their recovery. We must learn more about their specific substance use disorder, the types of treatment available, and more. This way, we can provide sound advice to our loved ones if they turn to us for help. By learning more about substance abuse disorders, we can also learn how to prevent substance abuse problems in the future.

Don’t Threaten or Criticize

Establishing trust is critical when helping someone overcome a substance abuse disorder.
Using criticism or threats is one of the easiest ways to destroy trust with our loved ones. Even when trying to help, it is essential to understand that causing them additional stress can make things worse.

Similarly, as they recover, we cannot use our love and comfort as a weapon against our loved ones. Saying things like, “you would quit if you loved me,” is more destructive and will cause more harm than good. Instead, we can set healthy boundaries and respect their privacy to help build and maintain trust.

Expect Roadblocks and Difficulties

While it may seem easy to discuss substance use problems with our loved ones, there are often many roadblocks and difficulties along the way. Whether our loved ones don’t believe they have a problem or simply don’t want to change, we cannot force them into sobriety.

Instead, we must expect these difficulties along the way. There is no overnight solution for overcoming addiction. It requires a lot of effort and support, especially in the early stages. Expecting these difficulties will make it easier to prepare for them so that we can offer our loved ones the best support possible.

Don’t Expect Immediate Change

Finally, we mustn’t expect our loved ones to change immediately after substance abuse recovery. Recovery is a lifelong process that may have many ups and downs. While our loved ones may do well with their recovery, they may also slip up and make mistakes over time. Even if our loved ones relapse, we must keep each of these principles in mind and continue to support them on their journey to sobriety.

Learn More About Substance Abuse Recovery Today

Substance abuse is a lifelong process that requires external support. By following these tips, we can find ways to be there for our loved ones as they recover from substance abuse disorders.
If you need substance abuse help, Comprehensive Wellness Centers can help! We provide substance abuse recovery programs and mental health assistance to help you or your loved ones make a full recovery.

Contact us today to get started on the road to recovery and to learn more about our programs.

Medically Reviewed: June 23, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff

Clinical Team

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Content on this page has been reviewed by CWC Medical Staff for accuracy.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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