Understanding addiction

Supporting recovery and self-care

Many treatment professionals consider substance use disorders to be family diseases. To help everyone recover and cope, family may be asked to take part in treatment. This may involve going to a family education program or to counseling for families or couples.

As you and your family member recover, remember:

  • You are participating in treatment for yourself, not just for the sake of the person who used substances.
  • Your loved one’s recovery, sobriety, or abstinence does not depend on you.
  • Your family’s recovery does not depend on the recovery of the person who used substances.
  • You did not cause your family member’s substance use disorder. It is not your fault.

You still may have hurt feelings and anger from the past that need to be resolved. You need support to understand and deal with these feelings, and you need to support your loved one’s efforts to get well.

You cannot do someone else’s recovery for them.

If you think your family member or friend might be addicted, you cannot fix the problem by yourself, or force them into treatment. If the person is initially not willing to be helped, learn more about drug addiction for your own knowledge, and see if there are resources or information that might convince them to seek help.

Everyone acts differently when they start treatment. Some people are very happy to be getting treatment at last; others suffer a great deal while they adjust to a new life and attempt to live it without alcohol and drugs. They may be sad, angry, or confused. It is important for you to realize that these are normal reactions and to get support for yourself.

(Page published: October 2019)