More than 23 million adults in the United States have struggled with substance use disorder (National Institute of Health). This means that not only are millions of Americans struggling with the disorder, millions more are significantly impacted. According to a recent study, over 45 million individuals are impacted by substance use disorder. That means that 1 in 3 households suffering from the effects of this devastating issue (The Edge Treatment). Loving someone that struggles with substance use disorder is extremely difficult. From struggling to find the words to say, to not knowing the best way to truly help them find recovery options that might work – you can sometimes feel helpless.

While the growing focus on increased treatment options and recovery services continues, the conversation around families and other impacted individuals must be built upon as well. If you know someone who is struggling with substance use disorder, then this post is for you. Here are 5 ways you can support your loved one as they work towards long-term recovery.

5 Ways to Support Your Loved One With A Substance Use Disorder

Love Them Without Enabling Their Disorder
When you love someone who is actively struggling with substance use disorder, you may feel responsible for caring for them on many levels. While it may seem helpful to provide for your loved one monetarily, or by offering up a place for them to stay, it can often be more helpful to have healthy boundaries in place.

Boundaries can be difficult to set, so here are some alternatives that that might help:

  • Offer to buy groceries, toiletries and other amenities rather than giving money
  • Help them find a housing option that offers them a safe place to stay without compromising your safety
  • If they are open to it, connect them with a CPRS who can help meet their needs and provide professional support

Encourage Them To Create Healthy Habits
Creating healthy habits when you’ve been struggling with maintaining recovery can seem impossible. Having compassion for your loved one as they begin to navigate a healthier lifestyle is one incredible way to show your support. Remaining supportive of these habits is a very effective way to support their recovery.

Take Care of Yourself
Loving someone who struggles with substance use disorder can feel all-consuming, and takes a heavy emotional toll. When you’re watching someone you care for struggle so much, your own health and wellness can seem insignificant in comparison. It’s important to remember to stop, and care for yourself as well.

Need to take a step back from the situation? That’s okay. Does it feel difficult to open up about your experience? Family and loved ones of someone struggling with substance use disorder can often feel unheard and misunderstood. Consider attending an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting. These gatherings are a safe place to share your story with others who have similar experiences. You can also participate in a 12-step program geared towards loved ones.

Do Your Research
Substance use disorder is complex – every individual has different struggles. It’s important not to assume anything about an individual’s experience but to instead seek to understand what substance use disorder is, and how it manifests from person to person. Looking for more information on substance use disorder? Check out our blog for more posts about substance use disorder.

Avoid Blame
Having a relationship of any kind with someone who struggles with substance use disorder can be complicated, and the past is often filled with emotionally charged interactions. From heavy conflicts to small glimmers of hope, it’s easy to remember all of the hurt that has been caused by watching your loved one struggle. Try to remain neutral and supportive when interacting with your loved one and avoid engaging in any damaging exchanges. Your loved one likely already feels ashamed. Try to minimize that shame as much as you can and encourage open communication about their disorder.


You Deserve The Support You Offer To Your Loved One

Caring for someone who is actively struggling with substance use disorder is incredibly difficult. The emotions that come along with this journey are overwhelming, consuming and downright difficult to process. Have compassion for your loved one that is struggling, but also have compassion for yourself. You are more likely to be able to support your loved one in a healthy way if you’re caring for yourself first. 

Continue to do the challenging work of supporting and caring for your loved one, and utilize some of the resources listed above. It’s helpful to find a safe space to share your experiences when your family and friends can’t offer that. There is an entire network of support waiting for you when you’re ready.


Wondering How To Support Your Loved One Today?

Learn more about how we are helping individuals with substance use disorder and the services we offer here. We’re happy to talk further about how we can support your loved one as they pursue recovery, and work to find or develop the best program for them.



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