Ways to Tell If a Loved One Has Addiction and What to Do

Ways to Tell If a Loved One Has Addiction and What to Do

Thursday, April 23, 2020 | By Cooper Samp

Addiction doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process. In some cases, family members do not notice the subtle changes that occur daily, monthly or weekly– or how family members adapt to these transformations. Here are 7 steps you can take to see through the confusion of addiction and find help for your family members.

Notice your own behavior

Try a quick check. Do any of these behaviors sound familiar?

  • Playing detective and trying to find where your loved one is concealing alcohol or various other drugs.
  • Regularly checking up on your loved one.
  • Delaying plans with friends or family because you’re not sure what state your loved one will be in

Making excuses for your loved one’s habits or absence

With the very best of intentions, families often tend to handle the worry and chaos of substance abuse by suppressing, looking for scapegoats, and taking on various other undesirable behaviors: fixation, denial, enabling or blaming.

Acknowledge the indicators of addiction.

Professionals have determined distinguishing physical and behavioral indicators of addiction to alcohol or other drugs.

You need to also understand that people with an addiction sometimes attempt to stop on their own. You’ll see indicators of withdrawal and patterns of reuse if so. Withdrawal from heavy and continual use of drugs can be damaging; clinical supervision is needed in many cases.

Remain removed, but with love.

When encountering a loved one’s addiction, remember this: You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. You can attend to the concern of alcohol or drug addiction with your loved one, but any behavioral change is up to them.

Think about co-occurring mental health issues

Around 8.9 million people have co-occurring disorders; they have both a mental health and a drug use disorder such as depression and alcoholism. The connection among the two is intricate, but therapy is effective when medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and alcohol and drug counselors function as a team to untangle and identify the issue and tailor care.

Do not judge

Addiction is a disease. If your loved one had a cardiovascular disease, would you stand back and criticize him for his diet or absence of exercise or weight control? Most likely, you would certainly rush to help. Alcohol and drug addiction is much like heart, diabetes, and cancer disease. If left unattended, it’s just as serious.

Start the discussion and maintain expectations low.

It’s difficult to recognize what to say or do, but come from a place of non-judgment and compassion and everything else will run its course. It may not happen overnight but this is the most effective way to convince your loved one to recieve help. You might literally be saving a life.

Keep these guidelines in mind for your discussion:


  • Bring up the problem when the individual is sober
  • about: occupation, children, sports, physical health
  • Write down what you want to say in advance so you’re prepared
  • Express your concern in a caring and honest way
  • Have a support person with you or available by phone
  • Discuss the effect the drinking or drug use has had on whatever he or she cares most 

Do not

  • Bring up the issue when the individual is drunk or high
  • Do this alone
  • Offer solutions; you are not a chemical dependency specialist
  • Use a condemning tone
  • Attempt to modify behaviors
  • Despair or take it personally if the discussion ends negatively; you have planted a seed

Begin with a professional evaluation when your loved one is open to professional assistance.

Coalition Recovery and various other addiction treatment facilities have professional staff who perform addiction screenings and assessments. An assessment is the very best method to analyze the problem, develop the facts, and determine what kind of treatment or other services will best bring about long-term recovery and sobriety.

With care and support, your family can work through the chaos you’ve experienced and start rebuilding relationships based upon honesty and responsibility.

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