How to Help a Loved One Through Addiction Treatment

Bethany Hatton created after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids.

As her grandson recovered from an overdose, the number of questions Bethany had about his illness swelled: how had his addiction developed? Could she and other family members have done anything differently along the way? And most importantly, how could she help him get better and ensure others in her family and community didn’t suffer the same fate?

Using the research skills she honed during her work as a librarian, she dedicated herself to searching the internet to find the most reputable, reliable information to share on her site.

Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction, she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.


Helping a loved one through addiction treatment is never easy, especially if you’re worried about their well-being. Many individuals who struggle with addiction aren’t even aware that they have a problem, or they may suspect it but not want to admit it to themselves. Some will become angry or defensive when confronted about their addiction, making it difficult for loved ones to help or, even worse, causing a disagreement that can quickly blow out of control. 

If you suspect a loved one is abusing substances, it’s important that you say something. Just as important as what you say is how you say it; no one wants to feel they are being accused, so being gentle and choosing your words carefully is imperative. Don’t bring “you” words into the conversation; instead, use “I” statements — such as “I have been worried about you lately” and “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” Don’t try to understand your loved one’s feelings or thought processes; this is especially important if you fundamentally don’t agree with their lifestyle choices. 

It’s also important to know what the different types of addiction treatment are. Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your loved one.

Know the Signs

It’s imperative that you learn and get familiar with the signs and symptoms of addiction. For instance, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, many individuals who are suffering with alcoholism exhibit these signs:

  • Temporary blackouts or memory loss. 
  • Recurrent arguments or fights with family members or friends as well as irritability, depression, or mood swings.
  • Continuing use of alcohol to relax, to cheer up, to sleep, to deal with problems, or to feel “normal.”
  • Headache, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, or other unpleasant symptoms when one stops drinking.
  • Flushed skin and broken capillaries on the face; a husky voice; trembling hands; bloody or black/tarry stools or vomiting blood; chronic diarrhea.
  • Drinking alone, in the mornings, or in secret. 

Know the Treatment Options

There are many different types of treatment available for individuals who are suffering with addiction, including 12-step programs, religion-based programs, and holistic approaches that encompass the individual’s well-being as a whole. Some people choose to do in-patient programs, which allow them to remove themselves from negative or unhealthy situations to focus on healing and getting healthy. If you feel this is the right path for your loved one, talk to them about how to get started. Click here for more info.

Be Supportive

Going through an addiction — and then making the decision to get help for it — is a huge life change that can come with many negative consequences. Some individuals suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress as they seek treatment, so it’s important to be supportive and show your loved one that you’re there to help them stay strong. The chances of relapse are likely to be greater when the individual doesn’t have a circle of support.

Don’t Use Guilt or Give Ultimatums

Most individuals who are battling addiction are doing so because they are deeply unhappy with some aspect of their lives, whether it’s present or past, and many already feel guilty about the way they’re treating their bodies or the consequences their behavior has on their family or work situation. Leave the guilt at the door and don’t give an ultimatum; this can make your loved one feel backed into a corner, which never leads to anything constructive.

Helping a loved one get through treatment is a long, difficult road for most people, but by showing your support and helping them get to a healthy place, you can help ensure that their recovery is successful. Try to remain patient and give them guidance when possible.

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