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5 Steps for Coping With a Loved One’s Addiction 

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More than 5.8% of American adults are dependent on alcohol, and 11.7% use illicit drugs.  Coping with addiction when it involves your loved one isn’t easy, and it impacts the whole family in many ways. This is a common problem among millions of families today.

Typically, these individuals have families who suffer lifelong issues as a result of their loved one’s substance use.  Spouses, children, extended family, friends, and employers are not immune to the devastation a person with addiction can cause.

Coping With Addiction: Impact of Parental Substance Use on Young Children

Coping With AddictionResearchers at Harvard Medical Institute affirm that parental substance use can impact a child’s development and life outcomes.  According to the study, these children may also develop behavioral problems, such as drug or alcohol abuse.

Today, more than one in five children live with parents who have substance use disorders (SUDs).  Many of these children are lacking basic physical, emotional, and psychological support from their parents.  

The children are three times more likely to experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse than their peers.  As a result of parental substance use, children may suffer a range of adverse effects such as:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Lack of confidence
  • School delinquency
  • Social awkwardness
  • Learning disabilities 
  • Developmental delays
  • Substance use at a young age

According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, Understanding the Diverse Needs of Children Whose Parents Abuse Substances: 

“Although most research has focused on parental alcohol involvement, the effects of parents’ illegal drug use on their children have also been examined. Among these indicators of parental substance use, evidence of a substance use disorder and more frequent consequences and dependency symptoms appear to be the strongest and most consistent predictor of child impairment.”

Other factors may account for the correlation between parental substance use and a child’s academic performance and behavioral issues.  For instance, the parent may be struggling with mental health disorders in addition to their SUD.  

Coping With Addiction: What to Do for Your Loved One

If you have a loved one who is struggling with substance use, you’re likely looking for ways to cope.  Getting treatment for your loved one is a major concern and you have many questions about what you can do.  

First of all, it is important not only to support the addicted family member but also to care for yourself and other family members. You may find these 5 tips useful in your efforts to enjoy a balanced family life.

  •  Learn more about addiction.

Learning the facts about addiction can help you stop playing the blame game.  Understanding the complexities of how addiction happens is the first step in letting go of resentment and anger toward your loved one. 

  •  Join a community of supportive peers.

Seek out people who are struggling with the same kind of problem.  Attend programs that provide help for families of addicted persons.  Interacting with others in the groups will lessen your feelings of isolation and provide useful tips and advice.

  •  Attend family therapy sessions.

Family members have a hard time speaking openly to their addicted loved one.  Attending family therapy sessions helps people work through their conflicts and learn to communicate more effectively with each other.  

  •  Managing expectations is key.

Everyone has expectations for themselves and for the other family members.  If you expect your addicted loved one to change, remember that it is a complex process.  A person’s mind and body have to be rehabilitated from the damages caused by drugs or alcohol.

  •  Don’t be an enabler.

You may be an enabler without realizing it.  An enabler is someone who thinks they are protecting their loved one from the consequences of their substance use.  But, this only makes it easier for the person to continue their drug or alcohol use.  

Examples of enabling include:

  • Avoiding conflict with the loved one.
  • Minimizing the extent of the addiction.
  • Believing the situation will get better.
  • Taking on the person’s responsibilities.
  • Providing money, shelter, and transportation.
  • Making excuses for their behavior. 
  • Sacrificing your own needs.

Families that are coping with addiction involving a loved one often suffer anxiety, stress, anger, guilt, fear, depression, and embarrassment.  As a result, the family dynamic breaks down and will continue to deteriorate unless the addicted loved one seeks professional help.

Design for Change Recovery Will Help Your Loved One Heal

When a family is struggling with the challenges imposed on them by coping with addiction, they need more than sympathy.  Instead, they need solutions.  

At Design for Change Recovery, we understand the complex problems surrounding addiction in families.  For lasting recovery, we offer an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on healing your loved one mentally, physically, and spiritually.

As part of our comprehensive program, we offer Family Therapy sessions to help family members understand their role in their loved one’s recovery.  They learn how addiction affects their loved one from a psychological, medical, and behavioral standpoint, and how they can help them overcome the challenges.

Our customized treatment plan is designed to target the specific needs of a client to ensure the lasting change they desire, both for themselves and for their loved ones.

Learn more about our unique treatment approach by contacting our Lancaster, CA facility today.  


  • – Harvard Study Pegs How Parental Substance Abuse Impacts Kids
  • – Understanding the Diverse Needs of Children Whose Parents Abuse Substances
5 Steps for Coping With a Loved One’s Addiction