How to Deal with a Drug Addict in the Family

Addiction is a terrible disease. It gradually eats away at the very fibres of what makes a person who they are. The consequences of addiction often extend beyond the addict themselves. It is difficult for both the addict and their closest family and friends to cope with the daily grind that addiction brings. Supporting an addict isn’t easy. In fact, often the best thing to do can be completely counterintuitive. We all feel a natural desire to protect and to help those that we love, but when faced with a complex disease like addiction, things need to get worse before they get better.

If you suspect that someone in your family is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs then the main emotion you are likely to feel is worry or concern; worry for their health and wellbeing, and concern that addictions have the potential to spiral out of control at an alarming speed. In order to effectively help a family member to face their addiction, and come out the other side, you will need to be prepared for a long and difficult battle. There are no simple answers where addiction is concerned, but there are a number of things that you can do in order to make the journey easier for both you and them.


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Remove Triggers

There are two components to any addiction. There is the physical aspect of it, which manifests as withdrawal symptoms when the addict’s drug of choice is removed, and there is the psychological component. The psychological component is much harder to break, and this is where the crux of addiction lies. An addict can be kept away from their drug of choice until physical withdrawal subsides, but they then must contend with the underlying issues which drove them to addiction in the first place - and these are more difficult attachments to break.

Triggers are a big part of this. These are the specific places and things which cause the addict to crave their drug of choice. They can be something as simple as a particular place that the addict associates with being high, or they can be specific people who have featured prominently in the development of their addiction.

Legal Aid

Should your family member find themselves on the wrong side of the law due to their addiction, they will need some form of legal representation. This can be a scary process for everyone involved. However, both you and your family member will feel a lot better knowing that they have someone to represent their interests legally. Hiring a specialised drug defence lawyer is a good move. Remember, your family member is entitled to free legal aid when being interviewed by the police and you or they can nominate a solicitor to represent them for free; you do not have to rely on a duty solicitor being assigned.

Be Prepared for the Long Term

Different drugs have different relapse rates and different safety profiles. Some addictions can easily be life-threatening, while others limit their impact to general quality of life issues.  In either case, it will take a long time before the addict is free completely of their addiction.


Dealing with a drug addict in your family isn’t easy. It puts a great deal of strain on relationships and takes a significant investment in both time and emotion to overcome. However, for those who are willing to find a way, there is always a path to recovery.

Yorkshire Dad

Part-time daddy and lifestyle blogger. Father of 2 boys under 2. Golfer, scare-fan, tea-lover, traveller, squash and poker player. I write on the @HuffPostUK http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/karl-young/

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