The Challenges of a Loved One's Addiction

This article and connected links are for those navigating the challenges of addiction. When a loved one struggles with addiction, it’s difficult to watch. You have no doubt witnessed their self-destructive behaviour and their gradual decline. 

You see their excessive drug or alcohol use extending far beyond social norms. In many instances, you may feel powerless to do anything about it.

What typically occurs when you attempt to intervene and suggest they seek help? You most likely get an earful of comments like, “It’s none of your business” or “I don’t have a problem, don’t worry,” among other variations. 

Moreover, we often hear that families cannot do anything unless the addicted person wants help or has hit rock bottom. While this notion holds some truth, it isn’t the complete picture.

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A Guide to Drug and Alcohol Interventions

Supporting a Loved One Struggling with Addiction

When navigating the challenges of addiction and supporting a loved one struggling with addiction, family members have various options to consider. Addressing the individual’s behaviour can take different forms, and the extent of action often hinges on the severity of misuse and the specific substance involved.

Assisting someone begins with a certain level of knowledge, particularly understanding the “when” and “how” factors. We’ve compiled a series on drug and alcohol intervention to help friends and family members understand when and how to do so. You can access these articles in the Intervention Series Menu or read on.

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Enabler Defined

First Step in
Helping Someone

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How Substance Misuse Affects Everyone

Regularly using illicit drugs, whether on a daily basis or binges, has a ripple effect that impacts the individual and those in their social circle. Initially, a person may fail to recognize the harm in their actions, believing that occasional consumption of substances like cocaine, marijuana, or alcohol is harmless. And in most cases, it is. However, this casual use can escalate into a more frequent habit.

As a person continues to use drugs or alcohol, their tolerance builds, necessitating higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This escalating pattern can push an individual closer to the clutches of addiction. This new condition brings about a host of conflicts and disturbances among the people connected to the individual misusing substances. Consequently, family and friends begin to experience the challenges of addiction.

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Dos & Don'ts


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Substance Misuse Alters Behaviour and Relationships

The individual’s consumption noticeably alters their behaviour, prompting concerns from family and friends. The user will likely become increasingly secretive and occasionally withdraw from social interactions. Their life becomes more unpredictable and bewildering. Eventually, this cascade of issues leads to fractured relationships, turmoil within families, disruptions at work, and more.

Siblings see that all the attention is on the substance misuser. The parents are distracted at work because they know their son is doing something destructive. They fear that sooner or later, they will need to bail him out or visit him in the ER, or worse. 

Maybe school grades start to slip, and in other circumstances, the boss is concerned about accidents or too many “no-shows” at work. Good long-time friends stay away. The person now finds themselves alone or hangs with a “new crowd.”

The challenge of addiction is also our attempt to reason with the person, encouraging them to seek help, but they often remain unresponsive. You may find yourself wondering why they can’t simply quit. Deep down, you understand that it’s not that straightforward, even if you believe they should be able to stop.

When All Else Fails: The Tough Decision

In Supporting a Loved One Struggling with Addiction

The other avenue to overcome when supporting a loved one struggling with addiction is best applied when all attempts have failed. In many cases, the inability to offer assistance is not due to your limitations but rather the person’s resistance to accepting it. They find it difficult to accept help for whatever reason there is.

When all else fails, one option is to enlist the assistance of a drug or alcohol interventionist to facilitate a family intervention. However, even if this endeavour proves unsuccessful, one final step remains: withdrawing all financial and emotional support. It’s essential to include a stipulation that contact remains an option for the misuser if they decide to seek help.

While it may initially appear unsympathetic, sometimes it’s the most effective approach to help the individual gain clarity. At first glance, it may come across as unfeeling. Still, in reality, addiction can potentially impact the entire family, both financially and emotionally. It is another reason why taking such measures can be necessary.

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Five Steps
Through Denial

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Seeking Guidance for the Challenges of Addiction

The above is not always as simple as it looks. Each case has its own set of circumstances and particular issues to overcome. For assistance, you can contact our experienced referral and consultation counsellor. 

They are there to help guide you and can bring hope and potential solutions when supporting a loved one struggling with addiction. There are ways to stay above it all.  

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Very kind and informative. It encourages me to continue supporting a beloved family member who has been through this problem.
Cyn C.
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Very very helpful in a time of desperation. I highly recommend using their service. They have the knowledge and experience. When one place did not work out they very quickly recommended another which worked out perfectly.
Lisa B
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Well, I'm not the best with words. I will do my best. My agent, Susan is the best person I've ever dealt with- she's been so professional, and patient and kind- and no one will ever understand how much she's helped me so far. My journey is not over yet, however the guidance I'm receiving is helping me so very much and I cannot thank you enough. Keep up the great work and thank you for being there for myself and my loved one- as I get the info I give to my loved one.
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Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

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