How to Deal with an Addicted Member in the Family


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Dealing with addicted members in the family is always a difficult task. There are some important issues to explore when someone you love is harming themselves through addiction.

Are You Part of the Problem?

People use various addictions to avoid painful circumstances or feelings, especially their feelings of anxiety, stress, loneliness, and emptiness. Is there some way that you are contributing to their pain? While you are not responsible for how someone deals with pain, you are responsible for anything you are doing that may be contributing to it. Some of the ways you might be contributing are:

  • Being judgmental toward the addicted person in an effort to control them regarding their addictions or regarding other behavior.

  • Care-taking the addicted person by covering up for them or doing things for them that they need to be doing for themselves.

  • Being discounting or dismissive toward them, when they try to share their feelings with you about something you might be doing that is difficult for them.

  • Telling yourself that you are responsible for them, rather than taking loving care of yourself.

Accepting Your Lack of Control

Regardless of how you might be contributing to the problem, the addict's choice to act out addictively is still 100 percent their choice, and you cannot control this. When you do not accept your powerlessness over another's choices and behavior, then you might stay in situations that are detrimental to you, trying to get the other person to change.

Staying Tuned to Your Own Feelings and Needs

Are you focused on the addicted person rather than on your feelings and needs? Are you putting yourself aside in your attempts to help them? Are you abandoning yourself in your efforts to get them to stop abandoning themselves and harming themselves?

Dealing with addicted members in the family is always difficult. There are some important issues to explore when someone you love is harming themselves.

Taking Loving Action

If you completely accept your lack of control over the other person and stop care-taking them or judging them, and if you tune into yourself and discover that you are distressed as a result of this relationship, then you have some hard decisions to make.

It is very important to understand that whatever is truly in your highest good, is also in the highest good of all. When you take loving care of yourself, you open the door for others to take loving care of themselves.

What are some of the loving actions to take regarding the addicted person?

Here are some actions you can take:

  • Join the appropriate 12-Step group to help you move out of enabling the addicted person and get out of enmeshment with him or her.

  • Get professional help to heal your need to control through your care-taking or through being judgmental.

  • Contact a professional who does interventions and bring together all the people who are sad about the situation and are willing to stop contact with the addicted person until he or she goes into a treatment center or gets some other form of good help.

  • Decide for yourself that you will no longer be involved with the family member as long as he or she is acting out the addiction. This means leaving the relationship, which may be a very hard thing to do. You may need professional help to take this action.

  • Accept the person as he or she is, completely accepting that the addiction will continue, and learn to take care of yourself within the situation.

When you completely realize your lack of control, then you can open up to learning about the loving action to take in your own behalf.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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