How to Cope with a Loved One’s Substance Abuse


Substance abuse is a disease, but its symptoms are so subtle that they often pass unnoticed, especially when it comes to socially acceptable drugs such as alcohol. It is particularly difficult for the addict to see and acknowledge the problem, and it is often the people around them that notice it first. If you are suspecting that a loved one has a substance abuse problem, it is important to take action as soon as possible, for both their sake and yours.

  1. Make sure you are safe

It is very common for addicts to abuse the people in their lives, either physically or emotionally. This doesn’t mean that addicts are bad people, but the substances that they consume can severally affect their behavior, making them aggressive and even violent. If you feel that the loved one who suffers from an addiction could pose a risk to your emotional or psychical wellbeing, you should put some distance between yourselves. Putting yourself first doesn’t make you selfish; it makes you rational. Moreover, you might be able to help your loved one even more if you keep some distance, because this will allow you to be more objective and more rational.

  1. Help them see the problem

As we already said, the symptoms of substance abuse are very subtle, as they mostly manifest themselves on a psychological level. As such, people who suffer from an addiction, will have a hard time accepting their problem, and they will have an even harder time overcoming it. Nonetheless, acceptance is the first step, so you need to talk to them about this as soon as possible. If your loved one is not an aggressive or violent person, a private talk might be your best option, because it will make them less defensive and more willing to talk about the problem. However, if the person in question tends to behave in an aggressive and unpredictable manner, a group intervention is a safer and more efficient approach.

3. Understand recovery process

The more you educate yourself on substance abuse, the more prepared you will be to support your loved one through their recovery problem. It is important to understand that the goal is not just to stop abusing the substance in question, but to fully recover from both the physical and the psychological addiction. So be open-minded and explore with your loved one the best recovery programs. If you do some research on, you will see that substance abuse manifests itself different with each individual, and in most cases, these problems are based on a mental health problem, be it depression or something more severe. As such, you need to be prepared to support your loved one through the full recovery journey, from getting over the addiction to overcoming the problems that got them addicted in the first place.

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