acquiesce - March 12th, 2021

How to Help a Family Member Suffering from Addiction

Speaking to your family member about their addiction can seem awkward and intimidating, especially if you are unsure of how they may respond. This can make it hard to know what to do or say, especially if you aren’t entirely sure that they are suffering from an addiction. Below is some advice on how to recognise and understand an addiction, how to approach your loved one and advice on getting help.

Recognising an Addiction

Recognising an addiction in a relative can be very difficult, especially as many signs of an addiction are similar to those of a mental health problem. It is important not to outright accuse them of having an addiction just because they exhibit some of the following signs as you may be wrong or end up pushing them away. Below are some examples of signs which may indicate an addiction.

Behavioural Signs of Addiction

Behavioural changes may be the first signs of an addiction that you notice in your relative. Each person’s symptoms may differ, particularly depending on what they are addicted to. Those addicted to alcohol will have different symptoms to those addicted to drugs or gambling for example. Below are some common behavioural signs of an addiction:

  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work, college or school
  • A loss of interest in things they once enjoyed e.g. hobbies
  • Withdrawing from social occasions
  • A lack of attention to personal responsibilities
  • Lack of care for family or personal safety
  • Dishonest and secretive behaviour
  • Engaging in negative behaviour or failure to stop using a substance despite the consequences
  • A lack of physical exercise and movement
  • Agitation or lack of communication with loved ones
  • Steal or sell belongings to gain money to fuel their addiction

Psychological Signs of Addiction

When a person is suffering from an addiction, their usual psyche may be altered or seem completely different. These psychological signs can often push friends or loved ones away due to their negative nature and can leave those with the addiction feeling isolated. As difficult as it may be, recognising that these psychological signs are a result of an addiction can help you to remember that your relative may not actually mean what they say if they have hurt you. Some examples are:

  • Regular and extreme mood swings
  • Poor judgement and lack of care for personal wellbeing
  • Increased temper or anger
  • Lack of sleep and tiredness
  • Memory problems
  • Paranoia and stress
  • Becoming defensive during conversations
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth
  • Become agitated or irritated often
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Addiction can also manifest itself as an increase in any existing mental health problems

Physical Signs of an Addiction

These may be the last signs you notice in a person as your relative may not display these signs until much later on into their addiction. Examples of physical signs are:

  • Fatigue, tiredness and exhaustion
  • Disturbed sleep patterns or insomnia
  • Lack of care for physical appearance
  • A decrease in personal hygiene
  • Weight loss or gain

Understanding Their Addiction

It is natural to feel upset or annoyed at your loved one’s addiction, particularly if it has impacted you personally. If you feel bitterness towards your relative as a result of betrayal or an argument caused by their addiction, allow yourself to cool down first before approaching them again. Setting your own limit on how involved you wish to become in helping them with their addiction is an important step to protecting yourself from being hurt or betrayed again.

How To Approach Your Family Member


  • Speak to them when you’re both sober
  • Arrange the conversation in a private and familiar location in case you or your relative become emotional
  • Allow plenty of time for the conversation to take place
  • Discuss how their addiction is impacting those who they care most about 


  • Be judgemental or critical
  • Interrupt them, give your loved one time to speak and explain how they feel
  • Give up,  these conversations are difficult and it may seem like you’re getting nowhere, however, the patience and understanding of a family member or friend is one of the leading reasons why those in recovery sought professional help

Getting Them the Right Kind of Help

At Acquiesce, we provide a discreet, highly supported and safe environment within the community for your relative to recover in. Without being hidden from the real world, our urban recovery model allows individuals to gain all the tools and experience necessary whilst maintaining a carefully monitored level of autonomy and responsibility over their own recovery. This makes the transitional period from treatment a much smoother process, resulting in a more sustainable recovery journey.

Our programmes are designed to accommodate each individual’s existing commitments and responsibilities including family and work arrangements. Find out more about our available rehabilitation programmes here.

Supporting Yourself

We offer a range of family support including psycho-education, visits and update calls on your loved one’s recovery. Evidence shows that including family as part of the treatment programme can be an important factor in the effectiveness and success of the treatment. It also helps you to gain a greater understanding of addiction and can provide you with recognition of your relative’s current responses and provides alternatives to help them manage their issues.

For any more information about the help we can provide here at Acquiesce, give us a call today on 01204 771940, or alternatively request a callback from us here. 

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