How to Handle the Surprise of Discovering a Loved One’s Addiction

How to Handle the Surprise of Discovering a Loved One's Addiction

Learn how to handle this difficult experience in the most productive and healthy way possible

Addiction is a terrifying disease. For the addict it often develops slowly. For friends and loved ones, however, it is often a sudden, even shocking revelation. Feelings of failure, guilt, confusion, and fear are common. The friends and family members of addicts must learn how to process their own feelings about the addiction and develop new boundaries with their addicted loved one.

Addition Counseling for the Family of Addicts

Many people have heard of counseling and therapy for addicts, but these critical services have proven to be quite effective for the friends and family members of addicts as well. In fact, without the proper understanding of this disease and support that counseling offers, bystanders commonly fall into the following codependent patterns and traps:

  • Making excuses for their addicted loved one
  • Denial
  • Trying to help the addict in ways that actually enable their disease
  • Responding in panic, anger, or rage
  • Depression, feelings of helplessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Addiction counseling for the family members and friends of an addict helps in many ways. Understanding how addiction happens, how it works in the brain, how it can be treated and how it can affect friends and family empowers all affected loved ones to regain a feeling of perspective and control. This process is not about placing blame or making excuses. It is all about preventing collateral damage and supporting loved ones up so that they can provide the necessary help the addict will need in order to recover from the disease.

Life Goes On and Recovery Is Possible

Addiction counseling for bystanders also helps affected loved ones imagine and work toward a future in which drug and alcohol dependence no longer defines their identity as a family. As painful as the process of discovering an addiction is, it is important to understand and believe that recovery is possible and that you may play a critical role in it.

Every addiction story is different, and no two paths to recovery are exactly alike, but the most effective treatment programs usually offer the following elements to their patients:

  • Individual counseling
  • Support group meetings
  • Education
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Opportunities to serve others
  • Spiritual and emotional support
  • Relaxation, meditation, prayer, and holistic coping techniques
  • Family counseling
  • Aftercare

The process is long, and it doesn’t end when the addict completes rehab. Relapse is maddeningly common and can be a very real risk for months or even years. Effective counseling and education, however, will equip you to be a positive element in your loved one’s recovery and not a distraction or hindrance.

Don’t Walk This Road Alone

You may feel alone but you are not. Our toll-free helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is staffed by caring professionals with confidential answers to all of the questions you have. Whether you are looking for rehab for your loved one, family support for yourself, or access to local support groups, we can help. Call now.