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How Involved Should You Really Be With An Addict In The Family?

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

April 8, 2019

Addiction does not have an easy fix. It often involves complex underlying mental health issues and changes in the brain that cannot simply be switched off. Asking yourself whether or not you are ready to maintain a relationship despite a whole host of challenges during the addiction and into recovery process is an important step to take.

When someone you love is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it can leave you facing some tough choices about your level of involvement. Those facing addiction fair better when loved one’s aid in their recovery. They can also be instrumental in the success of an intervention. At the same time, you may face challenges, unlike anything you’ve faced with this family member before including manipulative, violent, or dishonest behavior, and instability.

Your level of involvement with a member of the family facing addiction may be aided by getting educated in the addiction and how it will impact the person you love, setting clear boundaries ahead of time that you stick to, and maintaining your own well-being, a support system outside of that involved with the person coping with addiction.

Get Educated On Addiction Behaviors, Treatment Options can connect you with resources to help you navigate the complexities of addiction. Getting help from an addiction professional in your area, as well as researching the addiction your loved one is facing will help you better understand the ups and downs, and processes surrounding addiction, issues related to bottoming out or withdrawal, and types of treatment.

Knowing what to expect will help remove some of the fear and taboo in helping a loved one with addiction, while also giving you tools to connect an individual facing addiction with treatment options available to them. And the process doesn’t end with treatment. When an addicted loved one finally seeks out recovery options, co-recoverers must cope with a variety of issues including moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, underlying issues relating to the addiction, mood fluctuations, and any lingering health issues.

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Set Clear Boundaries Before And After Treatment For Addiction

Boundaries are tough, especially when you’re worried about a loved one. That said, setting clear boundaries that are communicated with the addicted individual will help when things get tough. Communicate consequences, should those boundaries be crossed. Boundaries might include preservation of your physical or emotional state, or those of a child or another loved one associated with the addicted person.

An addicted family member should not be defined by his or her addiction, but it is important to keep in mind that they are functioning in an altered state. The addicted brain functions differently and centers associated with reasoning and decision-making are often impaired. This means the addicted person may not even acknowledge the addiction or may make excuses or blame others.

Without inflicting judgment, clearly communicating boundaries and consequences will help you maintain your sanity and well-being throughout the process; it may afford you the freedom to remove yourself from the situation when needed. This care for oneself does not indicate a lack of love or support, but an awareness that you are unable to control the course of your loved one’s life and you need to look out for your own.

Avoid Codependency

Codependency can develop when one person relies heavily on the other in a non-mutual relationship. A drug-dependent individual often faces the fear of abandonment or isolation and will shame their partner or caregiver into staying involved, even when involvement proves detrimental to their partner or caregiver’s health and well-being. These behaviors are compounded when the other person in the relationship placates the addicted individual or tolerates their behaviors and ignores fundamental physical and emotional boundaries.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Support groups designed to help family members of those struggling with addiction, along with family and professional support can help give you continued insights into what is normal and what to expect. These supports can also aid you in setting up intervention if that proves necessary. Recovery from addiction means those supporting the addicted individual are co-recoverers. As such, support is an essential tool in keeping those involved with the addicted individual focused on maintaining sanity and well-being throughout the process.

If you live with the addicted individual and have set clear boundaries about violence or other unacceptable behavior, then have a plan in place to relocate if those boundaries are compromised. Determining your level of involvement in an addicted person’s life really involves knowing how to remain safe while preserving your well-being.

How Involved Should You Be?

Drug and alcohol-dependency can be as painful for the co-recoverers as for those suffering from addiction. Stress can manifest in headaches, back problems, anxiety disorders, stomach problems, and more. Determine what level of support you will likely be able to maintain without compromising your own life, and, unless boundaries are crossed, stick to it. Consistency of support will benefit the addicted individual, as well as the co-recoverer.

Remember that your involvement is all about support and should not represent an attempt to control the other person or force them into treatment. Only the person in need of help can determine when they are ready to seek help. Making options available to them or hosting an intervention led by an addiction professional are acceptable ways to show appropriate support.

Get The Support And Guidance You Deserve

If someone you love is facing addiction, you’ve made the first big step in acknowledging it. The best time to reach out for help is today. is here 24-7 with information that can help you as you begin this process of educating and preparing yourself in supporting the addicted individual. Contact us today to speak with someone in confidence and get connected with treatment options and the professionals who can help you help the person you love.

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