How to Care for a Loved One with an Addiction

When an addiction threatens to ruin a loved one’s life, it’s terrifying to watch. The person you love may become obsessed with drugs or alcohol and neglect the things that were once dearest to them. Favorite activities may become a thing of the past. Work and school may be neglected or stopped altogether. Relationships grow distant or strained. Though this may be a painful time, addictions can be overcome.

The Elephant in the Room

Addiction to drugs or alcohol often gets out of hand progressively, becoming more acute until the negative consequences grow obvious to you. Unfortunately, those consequences may not be obvious to your loved one. Denial is extremely common.
Before an addiction becomes an elephant in the room, trying to have a heart-to-heart with your loved one is an important first step. In some cases, this conversation starts to road to recovery. According to the Mayo Clinic, when denial is a problem, a heart-to-heart may not be enough, and an intervention is needed.


Interventions are important because people in denial may reach negatively when confronted about their addictions. They may claim they have things under control. In some cases, people grow defensive and angry when their addictions are brought to light. The substance use itself may also cause paranoia and overreactions, making speaking about the addiction difficult.
An intervention helps because it is carefully planned by a group of people, including friends, family, and addiction professionals or religious counselors. During the intervention, attendees discuss in what ways the addiction has become harmful to both the addicted person and others. The intervention suggests a course of treatment based on a prearranged treatment plan. Members of the intervention also prepare in advance what each person will do if treatment is rejected.

Detox Programs

When treatment begins, the first step must be detoxification. During this time, your loved one withdraws from the substance. For safety, detox should be conducted in a detox center, where the symptoms of withdrawal can be treated and your loved one made comfortable, as explained by The Lakes Treatment Center. Around the clock care and medical supervision are needed for successful and safe detox.


Once your loved one completes detox, he or she enters rehabilitation. Rehab focuses on treating the underlying reasons for the addiction, developing skills for overcoming addictive impulses, and providing a supportive environment where addictions and solutions can be discussed without fear. Rehab provides clients with the skills and beliefs they need to overcome addiction.
Once the rehabilitation process is completed, your loved one will need ongoing support. Aftercare programs are an enormous help, as is the love and support of friends and family. Most people who stop an addiction want to remain substance free, even if they struggle at times. Having support during difficult times can make all the difference.