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How To Support A Loved One With An Addiction

Sitting by and watching a loved one struggle with addiction is very difficult for more people. No one wants to see their loved one consumed with addiction as their drug of choice becomes the only thing important. Unfortunately, many people have good intentions, but ultimately, their “help” is not helpful at all. Therefore, finding support for an addicted loved one requires knowing what to do and what not to do. 

Signs Your Loved One Needs Help

There are several key signs to watch for that often indicate your loved one needs help, including: 

  • Changes in behavior: Signs of substance abuse can include sudden changes in attitude, mood swings, or erratic behaviors. These can range from becoming more isolated to being unusually secretive or having angry outbursts that are uncharacteristic of your loved one. 
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Your loved one may start neglecting their daily responsibilities, such as missing work, school, appointments, and other obligations from using or addiction-related activities. 
  • Financial issues: Financial problems can surface due to the expense of substances, losing their job, draining bank accounts, or taking out multiple loans to support their habit. 
  • Legal troubles: Drug-related crimes become increasingly probable if your loved one is involved in drug dealing or gets a DUI. 
  • Changes in physical health: A decline in physical appearance and neglecting personal hygiene, accompanied by uncharacteristic sleepless nights, nose bleeds, injection marks, frequent hangovers, or flu-like symptoms after alcohol or drug use, can also provide signs you loved on needs help. 

Support for an Addicted Loved One: Steps to Take

#1. Having a Conversation:

The first step to supporting an addicted loved one is to have a conversation. You should show genuineness when speaking to the person about their addiction and let them know that you care and are willing to help in any way you can. 

Make sure to be upfront and not be afraid to express concern for the well-being of your relationship with the person. Gently suggest that they look into ways of recovering from addiction by seeking out professional treatment or support groups. 

Take the time to have this conversation when they are sober and most likely to be more receptive. Most importantly, remember to practice patience if they do not respond well or are defensive. 

Even though it’s normal for loved ones of addicts to feel anxious and impatient toward an addict’s behavior, remember to remain patient throughout the conversation until a suitable long-term solution can be identified, allowing them to pursue recovery.

#2. Educate Yourself on How to Deal With Addiction

Begin by educating yourself on the facts and figures of addiction and the neuroscience behind it. Knowing how addiction works will help you gain insight into why your loved one is struggling with their dependency and better understand what they are going through. 

Part of your education should include learning more about the effects drugs and alcohol have on a person. For example, physical effects can cause changes in eating habits, weight loss or weight gain, or long-term effects, like increased risk for certain diseases.

Psychological effects include depression, anxiety, mood swings, and difficulties sleeping. Additionally, be aware of behavioral changes, such as emotional outbursts, aggressiveness, anger, or violent tendencies. 

#3. Practice Tough Love

Sometimes the best way to help a loved one struggling with addiction is through “tough love.” This means setting firm boundaries and expectations for how you interact or communicate. You must also establish clear consequences, such as not providing money to support their habit, not making excuses, or covering for them. 

#4. Don’t Enable

Enabling refers to a pattern of behavior in which a person allows for another person’s addiction by making excuses for them or by making it too easy for the other person to continue their negative behavior. It is often done out of fear or love and is an attempt to keep the peace within the relationship without addressing a problem that may exist.

As such, enabling does nothing to help your loved one. Therefore you need to avoid this practice by maintaining personal boundaries. Pay attention to your physical, emotional, and mental health by saying “no” when necessary and respecting yourself first. 

Do not do things for the addict that they should be doing themselves. Enabling will only reward their unhealthy behavior by allowing them to continue using without facing any consequences. 

More importantly, you need to accept reality. Many people struggling with substance abuse may have difficulty seeing how their actions hurt themselves and those around them. It is essential to accept the reality of what you can see instead of trying to inflate false hope or the promise of change if certain conditions are met. 

#5 Get Support for Yourself

Connect with family support groups that can help provide valuable resources to help you learn about enabling behaviors, addiction, and what other families are going through. Sharing experiences can be a valuable source of support and comfort. 


Supporting an addicted loved one takes patience, understanding, and commitment. It is not easy to do on your own without educating yourself and seeking help and support to avoid enabling your loved one’s addiction. However, it can be worthwhile to help somebody you care about realize they need help. 

Customizable Gender-Specific Rehab in Columbus, OH

At Ohio Addiction Recovery Center in Columbus, OH, we offer help and support for people that want to help their addicted loved ones. We provide access to resources, support groups, and more, as well as gender-specific rehab once your loved one decides to get help. For further information, contact us today. 

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