Supporting an Addict or Alcoholic: A Guide to Helping A Suffering Loved One

Legacy Healing Center Blog

Watching a loved one suffer from drug or alcohol addiction can be devastating and painful. For most families with an addicted loved one, addiction takes a great toll on the well being and mental health of the entire family. Often times, the family will experience fear, codependency, excess stress, and overwhelming obstacles.

If addiction has ravaged its way through your family, finding the best possible care for your loved one can be confusing and frustrating. With so many treatment options available, the process can be overwhelming.

At Legacy Healing Detox in Pompano Beach, FL, we understand that many families need some guidance on how to deal with a loved one who is suffering from addiction

Understanding Addiction

Understanding the ins and outs of addiction can be difficult if you haven’t experienced it yourself. It is important to know that there are two key aspects that make up an addiction – physical dependency and psychological obsession.

Physical dependency occurs after prolonged drug or alcohol abuse. Over time, the brain and body become dependent on a substance in order to function. If the substance is abruptly removed from the body, a person who is physically addicted will experience withdrawal symptoms. The second aspect of addiction, the psychological obsession, is even more baffling than physical dependency. Psychological obsession is characterized by an individual’s craving for and emotional dependence on a substance. They may experience strong desires to drink or get high and believe that they cannot endure life without a substance in their body.

Addiction is a disease, and as a disease, it is chronic. This means there is no miracle cure for drug addiction and relapse is possible. However, instead of looking at relapse as a failure, it can be seen as an integral part of each person’s journey as it allows individuals to learn from their mistakes. Addiction is something that must be treated on a daily basis, through psychotherapy, support groups, counseling, and the adaptation of healthy lifestyle changes.

Avoid shaming your loved one for relapse or asking them, “why can’t you just stop?” After all, there are a variety of issues that frequently underlie the disease of addiction. Instead, when your loved one is ready to get treatment, be open to the idea of participating in family therapy to better understand and support your loved one.

Signs of Addiction

Signs of addiction may be difficult to spot in the beginning, but as an individual’s addiction progresses, the signs will become more evident. If you are unsure whether or not your loved one is suffering from addiction, here are some signs that point towards addiction.

  • Finding drug paraphernalia in their room or personal items
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Declining work or school performance
  • Lack of interest in usual hobbies and activities
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Persistent financial struggles
  • Mood swings
  • Irrational behavior
  • Friends or family suddenly missing money or valuable items
  • Constricted or dilated pupils
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Increased acne
  • Depression, anxiety, or paranoia

Helping Convince a Loved One to Go to Detox

Addressing addiction among loved ones is never an easy conversation, but it is essential to your loved one’s recovery. Finding out that your loved one is suffering from addiction, you may enter into panic mode and obsessively try to gain control of the situation. On the other hand, you may feel responsible for keeping your loved one safe. However, you are not responsible for the situation and there is a huge difference between enabling and helping an addicted loved one.


Enabling your addicted loved one can involve loaning them money, providing them with shelter, bailing them out of their consequences, and lying to others to cover up the addict’s behavior. All of these actions only foster your loved one’s addiction and allow them to keep using without facing any consequences. If nothing bad ever happens, many addicts will continue to live a life bound by addiction.


If your loved one is suffering from addiction, setting and sticking to boundaries will help put an end to enabling behaviors. When all of their resources have been exhausted, they will be more likely to get help. If your loved one still refuses help, you can maintain your boundaries and consider an intervention.


In the midst of the chaos you may be facing, it is important to take time to de-stress and take care of yourself. Rather than persistently begging your loved one to get help, you can reassure your loved one that you will be ready to help when they are willing, and in the meantime, make sure to take care of your own well-being.

Treatment Programs

When dealing with your addicted loved one, it is important to have a plan in place and be familiar with the different treatment options that are available to help. Being educated and prepared will help you act quickly when your loved one is ready to get help.

Residential Treatment


Residential treatment is the ideal treatment setting for those with severe substance use disorders. Clients will live in houses or apartments owned by the treatment facility, participate in groups during the day and activities or meetings at night, and be provided with around the clock care. This type of environment can be extremely beneficial to those who suffer from addiction as they will be separated from old people, places, and things that may be triggers for them.

Partial Hospitalization


Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) are settings where clients live in a residential setting for a certain amount of time and are offered integrated addiction treatment and mental health counseling. They may also have access to medical staff and on-site therapists.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment


Intensive outpatient (IOP) does not require clients to live on the facilities grounds. Instead, clients will spend the majority of their day participating in therapy and living in a sober living or at home. This can be a great program for those who work evening jobs or have night classes.

Outpatient Treatment


Outpatient treatment is a step down in care from IOP. Clients will typically spend a couple of hours 2-3 days a week in a group therapy setting. This is ideal for those who cannot take off of work or classes to get treatment or have other important obligations. However, at the lowest level of care, the client may not get the treatment they need if their addiction is severe.

Getting the Help You and Your Loved One Needs


Speaking with an addiction professional can help you determine which kind of care will be best for your loved one’s recovery. At Legacy Healing Detox and Center in Pompano Beach, FL, we understand that addiction touches more than just the person suffering, but it can hurt family and friends as well. For this reason, it is important that families participate in the treatment process in order to allow the addict and the family unit to heal as a whole.

If you have a loved one who is suffering from addiction, contact our addiction professionals at Legacy Healing today to see how we can help.