Parents, spouses, children and other loved ones often, for good reason, have no idea what to do when a loved one suffers from addiction. All too often, loved ones are in denial until the issue blows up and becomes a crisis. At which point, frantically, they seek for immediate solutions to a substance issue that is a long time in the making. If you think you’re loved one is dealing with a drug or alcohol issue, try to identify it early and intervene quickly. As a society, we need to stop waiting till “Stage 4” of addiction before we seek help, treatment, and recovery for our loved ones.


So, what can you do if you suspect your loved one has an alcohol or drug problem? What steps can you take? Here are some basic suggestions:


  • Intervene early. Do not wait for the problem to become “bad enough” or reach a “crisis situation.” Early intervention and getting help before the issue progresses is vital.
  • Talk about it. Don’t hide it. You will be shocked to discover how many people close to you have dealt with the same issue themselves or in their family. Talk with your family, friends, school professionals, or other healthcare professionals about the issue.
  • Get a professional assessment or evaluation, then listen to the recommendation of the professional
  • Seek your own help and support. Addiction can overwhelm the healthiest of family units, therefore getting help for your loved one will leave much unresolved trauma and issues for the parents, spouse, children, or other family members. Seek out help from professionals, family recovery coaches, or community support groups
  • Through that ongoing help and support, learn to hold healthy boundaries.
  • Empower, don’t enable. Enabling is doing for your loved one what they are more than capable of doing for themselves. Empowering is guiding, teaching, coaching, supporting, and helping them learn to do things for themselves. 
  • Understand: Addiction thrives in comfort. Few individuals that suffer from substance use disorder and addiction will begin to seek recovery until they have become uncomfortable in some way, whether that be physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially or in other ways. The discomfort is what begins the process of seeking change, then recovery, then health and quality of life.


Addiction is a chronic, progressive, potentially fatal illness that requires long-term care, monitoring and support. It is a brain disease that requires professional treatment services. It is a health issue, not a character flaw or a moral issue. Speak up, talk about it, discuss it, consult the help of a professional, get an accurate diagnosis and evaluation, and then listen to the suggestions of the independent, objective professional. Once your loved one is receiving help, get ongoing help and support for yourself. Families recovery together and family units that all seek recovery aid their loved one with substance use disorder in finding recovery themselves. 

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

family confronting loved one about substance abuse

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