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Substance Abuse and Addiction - For Family and Friends

If someone close to you has had a drinking problem, you know how hard it can be. You know how living or dealing with someone who abuses or is dependent on alcohol can change and even destroy your life. You're an important part of your loved one's treatment and recovery. Your emotions and life may change too, and taking care of yourself is also important.

Encourage treatment

It can be very hard to live with a family member who has a drinking problem. It's best not to try to control, excuse, or cover up the person's drinking. Instead, encourage your family member to seek treatment. Find a good time to talk to the person.

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Help with treatment and recovery

When the choice for treatment has been made, you play an important part. You can help your loved one stop drinking and help repair the damage done to your family or relationship. Here are some things you can do:

  • If you drink, decide whether you want to keep alcohol in the house. Having alcohol in your home might make it harder for your loved one to stay sober.
  • Be involved and patient. Attend recovery meetings with your loved one, and be supportive. Know that it may take a long time for you to trust and forgive the person and for the person to forgive himself or herself.
  • Be aware that your loved one may seem like a different person after he or she is sober. You may find it hard to get used to this person. You may need to rebuild your relationship.
  • Understand that you have the right to know how recovery is going, but ask about it in a respectful way.
  • Help your loved one plan for a relapse. Most people relapse after treatment. This doesn't mean the treatment failed. Try to help your loved one see relapse as a chance to do better and to keep working on skills to avoid drinking.
  • Focus on the positive actions your loved one is making.
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