Got a Drug Addicted Family Member? Here’s How to Deal

Got a Drug Addicted Family Member? Here’s How to Deal

Learning how to deal with a drug addict can be frustrating, scary, and even make you feel powerless. Drug addiction is a difficult and far reaching problem with numerous effects on the life of the addict and the lives of those surrounding them. In this article, we will discuss and learn how to deal with a drug addict in way the preserves relationships and encourages the addict to make progress.

Understanding Drug Addiction

To know how to deal with a drug addict effectively, it's crucial to grasp the fundamentals of addiction itself. Addiction is a chronic disease that alters the brain's functioning, causing compulsive drug-seeking behaviors and a loss of control over substance use. The changes in the brain's reward system make it challenging for individuals to quit using drugs, despite the negative consequences they may face.

Some Side Effects of Addiction

Living with a loved one who is battling drug addiction can have significant effects on the entire household. It's essential to acknowledge and address these impacts to create a safe and healthy environment for everyone involved. Some common effects of addiction on the household include:

  • Anxiety and stress: Addiction can create a constant state of worry and tension within the household.
  • Financial problems: Substance abuse can lead to financial instability and strain on the family's resources.
  • Inconsistencies in rules and routines: Addiction often disrupts the household's structure, leading to inconsistent rules and routines.
  • Emotional turmoil: Loved ones may experience feelings of guilt, anger, embarrassment, and sadness due to the addiction.
  • Physical and security danger: If the person with addiction is currently intoxicated or seeking drugs, there may be an increased risk of physical harm to themselves and others in the household.

Establishing Safety Measures

When dealing with a drug addict who is actively using drugs, ensuring the safety of yourself and other vulnerable family members should be the top priority. Consider implementing the following safety measures:

  1. Set clear boundaries: Establish rules and expectations for behavior in the household. Clearly communicate the consequences of violating these boundaries.
  2. Protect vulnerable family members: If you have children, elderly relatives, or pets in the household, take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Consider temporarily asking the loved one with addiction to leave the home if their behavior puts others at risk.
  3. Have a response plan: Prepare for situations that may escalate, such as an outburst or potential violence. Identify supportive friends, family members, therapists, or even the police who can provide backup if needed.

Restricting Access to Money

People with addiction may go to great lengths to obtain money to fuel their substance abuse. Taking steps to restrict their access to money can help prevent enabling behaviors and protect your financial stability. Consider the following measures:

  • Remove the loved one from personal bank accounts and credit cards.
  • Consider opening a separate bank account for yourself as a precaution.
  • Be cautious about providing financial assistance, as it may be used to support their addiction.

How to Deal With a Drug Addict Through Treatment

Treatment is a crucial step in overcoming drug addiction. While individual therapy may be a starting point, more intensive interventions may be necessary. Encourage your loved one to consider the following treatment options:

  1. Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation: Depending on the severity of the addiction, your loved one may benefit from a residential treatment program or an outpatient program.
  2. Psychotherapy: Individual counseling or group therapy can provide essential support and help address the underlying issues contributing to addiction.
  3. Nutritional counseling: Proper nutrition plays a vital role in recovery. Encourage your loved one to seek guidance from a nutritionist or dietitian who specializes in addiction recovery.

Prioritizing Self-Care

Supporting a loved one with drug addiction can be emotionally and physically draining. It's crucial to prioritize self-care to maintain your well-being and resilience. Here are some self-care strategies to consider:

  1. Take breaks: Find time for yourself, even if it's just a few minutes each day, to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  2. Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
  3. Seek support: Connect with friends, family, or support groups who can provide understanding and empathy during this challenging time.

Joining a Support Group

You are not alone in this journey. Joining a support group can provide you with a sense of community, understanding, and guidance from others who have experienced similar challenges. Consider the following support groups:

  1. Al-Anon: Al-Anon is a support group specifically designed for people who love someone with a substance use issue. It offers a safe space to share experiences, gain insights, and learn coping strategies.
  2. Codependents Anonymous: Codependents Anonymous focuses on breaking free from codependent behaviors and developing healthier relationships.
  3. Individual therapy: Seeking therapy for yourself can provide a space to process your emotions, gain perspective, and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Living with a Person in Recovery

Recovery is a continuous journey, and it's important to support your loved one even after they have completed a rehabilitation program. Here are some tips for living with a person in recovery from drug addiction:

  1. Rebuilding trust: Trust may have been damaged during the addiction phase. It's crucial to work on rebuilding trust gradually, with open communication and consistent actions.
  2. Continued support: Encourage your loved one to attend support group meetings or therapy sessions to maintain their recovery and provide ongoing support.
  3. Educate yourself: Stay informed about addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention strategies to better understand and support your loved one's ongoing journey.

Additional Resources


Supporting a loved one battling drug addiction requires patience, understanding, and a commitment to their well-being. By educating yourself about addiction, establishing safety measures, encouraging treatment, prioritizing self-care, and seeking support, you can play a vital role in their journey to recovery. Remember, addiction is a complex disease, and professional help may be necessary. Your support and love can make a significant difference in their lives, offering hope and the possibility of a brighter future.


NIDA: Drug Addiction’s Effect on the Brain

SAMHSA: Why Drug Addiction is a Disease

NCBI: The Neuroscience of Addiction

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