Family and friends:

There are many ways families are impacted when their loved one is a person with substance use disorder, and members of the family can respond to the situation in a number of different ways—from wondering if they caused it, thinking they can fix it, or believing they can control it. Some suffer silently, afraid to voice their concerns because of silent scorn, possible abuse or fear of losing their loved one. And others do their best to manage and mitigate the damage by cleaning up messes that aren’t theirs to clean up. This can stem from shame or embarrassment or trying to protect the family’s reputation. All of these reactions come from thinking you’re responsible, in some way, for your loved one’s addiction—and that you should be able to control it or fix it.


Education is the key—learning about addiction and its impact on family members, and understanding why it’s important to get help for yourself even if your loved one isn’t ready or interested in getting help. Most communities have support groups designed for family members, such as Al-Anon, and these groups provide a safe place to talk about what you’re experiencing and to learn from others who are facing similar challenges. Online support groups, blogs, books and videos can be really helpful, too.


No matter where you turn for answers and support, the biggest takeaway is knowing that you’re not alone. Millions of families have been where you are—and have found a way to reclaim their own health and happiness.