importance of family support for sobriety

The family dynamic has been challenged and changed for thousands of years through different ethnicities, trials, and tribulations. This is a type of relationship that stands as a priority above all. Blood is thicker than water- isn’t that how the saying goes? Everybody and their family have a specific dynamic that makes the relationship “special”, and there’s no denying that. Love is what generally encompasses any family relationship whether it is extended or immediate.

How Your Involvement Can Help

When your family member is in rehab, fighting for sobriety, there will come a point when you may need to become involved.  Most professional rehab programs include the family of the individual in their recovery process because research shows that it reduces the risk of relapse. When it comes to families dealing with addiction, it’s crucial to work together. 

Typically, during the first month of rehab, family members are invited to the rehab facility for a “family education program” or family day. At that time, you are able to assert any concerns, questions, and feelings associated with your family member.

Benefits of Family Involvement

Taking part in family therapy or family workshop is helpful in several ways including:

  • It allows the counselors to obtain information from the family, observe how the members interact, and learn more about family variations.
  • It encourages your family members to continue with their treatment program because they know they have the support of their family.
  • It provides your family member an opportunity to learn how the whole family has been affected by their addiction.

How To Support a Loved One in Recovery – 5 Dos and Don’ts

Approximately one in ten Americans have recovered from a substance use disorder. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to support these members of our families due to the stigma and silence that still surround addiction and recovery. Here are a few tips:


  1. Use nonjudgmental words. Avoid calling them addicts or even recovering addicts. Use the term “a person in recovery” or a “person recovering from substance use disorder.”
  2. Remember that it’s okay to show concern and care. Don’t be afraid of bringing up their feelings and experiences. They’ll be more comfortable if you can talk to them comfortably.
  3. Communicate directly. But state your thoughts in a loving way. Don’t use accusing phrases like “are you using again?”
  4. Offer to help but don’t “babysit.” Ask if you can help but don’t do all the work for them. 
  5. Start a conversation about their recovery experience.  Let them know they can be open and honest with you.


  1. Be confrontational or questioning. Ask questions but don’t accuse.
  2. Nag. It’s important to trust them. When they know they are trusted and supported, they become more reliable.
  3. Treat them like children. Treat them with the respect you would want. Hold them accountable just like anyone else.
  4. Soften your own boundaries. Continue to have boundaries to keep yourself well while showing your love and support for your family members.
  5. Trying to rescue them. Just because they’re in recovery doesn’t mean that you need to save them from their own mistakes.

Families Dealing With Addiction

However, attached to any batch of love usually are worry, doubt, and existential fear. When any family member of any sort watches their loved ones begin to struggle with substance abuse – it knocks the breath out of them. The thought of somebody you care about immensely throwing their lives away hurts to watch. Each family member will generally develop their own methods to cope with the addiction. And those methods can range from sympathetic to dangerous such as:

  • Ignoring the problem
  • Keeping away from the family member
  • Enabling the person so they stay in a good mood, not lashing out at people
  • Attempting to control the person
  • Using substances themselves

When it comes to helping loved ones- especially that of family, there must be a cautious way to go about it to not allow ourselves to get sucked into the gravitational pull of the disease. When it comes to family support, there is a fine line between giving the help needed and enabling for the help wanted.

How To Help A Family Member With Addiction?

If you’re wondering how you can help your family member with a drug or alcohol abuse problem, here are some answers to questions you may be having. Families dealing with addiction need to know when it’s time to get help. 

Am I overreacting to their substance use?

You are not overracting ig you have begun to notice problems in their: 

  • Work 
  • Relationships
  • Social functioning
  • Legal issues 
  • Self-esteem
  • Health
  • Finances, or 
  • Self-respect

If they continue to use substances even though such behavior is a problem shows that their substance abuse is more important than the problems it causes. A person who won’t discuss the issue or consider that there might be a problem is a strong sign that there is a problem.

How soon should I start to do something?

Books, movies, and magazines frequently show people who “hit bottom” before they can be helped. This is a myth. Nobody needs to bottom out before they can be helped. Early identification of the problem is much more effective for treating substance abuse. Early identification occurs at the first sign of a problem. That is, before:

  • A traumatic event
  • Dropping out of school 
  • Lost or damaged relationships
  • Lost jobs
  • Ruined health

Identification can be done through a healthcare professional screening, an employee assistance professional, or a family member. Depending on the results of the test, the next steps could be:

  • Learning to cut back
  • Further evaluation
  • Professional treatment

Generally speaking, all people are better able to work on recovery if their substance use problem is discovered and confronted early. 

How do I bring up the subject?

family supporting eachother

You may be worried that starting a discussion with the person will cause them to take drastic steps. They might drop out of school, make a scene in front of everyone, start using excessively, or retaliate against you. But it could be a very productive experience. These guidelines could help your conversation:

  • Don’t try to bring up the subject when they are under the influence.
  • Don’t be under the influence of yourself.
  • Choose a time to talk when you can have a few minutes alone.
  • When you start, tell them that you care about them.
  • List the negative behaviors you’ve seen and tell them you’re worried.
  • Do not try to guess, explore motives, or judge. Stick to the main point.
  • Do not expect a drastic change in thinking or behavior immediately.
  • Remember–there is no quick fix. Be prepared for the long haul.

How Can I Make Them Understand They Need Help?

Experts have recommended that you develop and repeat a consistent, positive message. For example: “We care about you and want you to get help.” Make it clear that substance abuse is a problem for you and others who care about the person. Avoid blaming and arguing. Expect to be met with:

  • Denial
  • Distortion
  • Avoidance
  • rationalization

How Do I Help Them Get Treatment?

When you mention the word “treatment” for substance abuse, most people think of detox and long-term residential care. The truth is, treatment may include one or both of those things and many other options. And the type of treatment is dependent on how severe the problem is. Nevertheless, all treatment starts with screening. Families dealing with addiction need to consider professional help, like Coastal Detox.

You might believe that you need to choose just the right program for your family member in order for treatment to succeed. However, many experts believe that there are several different programs that can lead to success – if the person is willing to take help from others and work on their recovery. Families dealing with addiction should work together to find the right treatment. 

Hakuna Matata

Family support for an addict who’s actively using and family support for an addict family member in recovery are two entirely different things. On one hand, you’ll have a loved one that is like a hurricane of problematic events, or on the other hand where your loved one is themselves and can be loving and supportive right back. The choice lies within them though.

Being tolerant and providing family support is a big deal and takes a lot of time and patience. As just previously mentioned, your loved one is the product of their own decisions, but having that aid and moral support along the way can make a gigantic difference in how they perceive themselves through substance abuse. It’s safe to say that most addicts and alcoholics didn’t wish to become one and end up being confused about how they got to that point.

Family is Foundation

Addiction causes nothing but turmoil in most family dynamics. It’s hard to provide family support to somebody who provides no rational resolution. Addiction is one of the only diseases in existence that will try to convince the person it consumes that it doesn’t exist. However, this does not justify the actions of an addict or alcoholic and the where-with-all they have while you try to give them family support.

Deep down inside, most persons dealing with substance abuse are aware of all the negativity in their lives- they’re just in denial about it. Usually, they just do not want to deal with their chemical dependency or they are not sure how to. This is where having family support to intervene or even just point out the truth can be the difference between life and death for some. Knowing how to help a family member with addiction is crucial.

Support is Support- Everyone Needs It

Everybody needs support at some point in time or another. Families dealing with addiction should come together and overcome this disease. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, contact us today. Our team of specialists is waiting to help figure out what options are best for you or your loved ones.