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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Adkins

How to help an adult loved one struggling with addiction

Updated: Mar 12

It’s probably not shocking to learn that nearly half of all Americans have a family member or close friend that is, or has been, addicted to drugs/alcohol. It’s also probably not shocking to learn that roughly 10% of U.S. adults have had a drug or alcohol problem at some point in their lives. What can be shocking, however, is learning that you have a loved one who is struggling. You never truly think it will happen to you until it does – and it is of utmost importance that you be a support person for your loved one in their time of need.

What would be most helpful along this journey for you and your loved one is to deeply understand what’s going on, how you can help, and maybe some things you shouldn’t be doing. Here are some helpful tips on how you can help an adult you love that is struggling with addiction:

  1. Get educated. The best way to begin helping someone is to understand what they’re going through. Research the type(s) of drug(s) they are using, the basic nature of addiction, and anything else you can get your hands on. This will ultimately allow you to make informed decisions about their care and how you can help them.

  2. Establish a set of boundaries, expectations, and consequences – but lead with love and care. We realize this is not an easy feat to take on. While you should not enable or allow your loved one to manipulate you, it would be in both parties’ best interest for you to lay down some ground rules. If you are going to be their support person, they should respect your wishes. Go into as much detail as necessary and communicate any important “why’s” and let them know you’re doing this because you love them and want them to get better.

  3. Get support where necessary. We’ll say it again – this is not an easy feat for anyone to take on. You shouldn’t be expected to do it alone! As the support person, you will probably need support as well. A number of different therapies or support groups would be beneficial to both you and your loved one. Set the example and be encouraging.

At Adult Family Health Services, we can support you and your loved one through a variety of options. Do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns – we are here to help! You can learn more about us and our services here.


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