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Overcoming Addiction: How Family and Friends Can Support Recovery

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Watching someone struggle with addiction can make you feel powerless. But family and friends play a tremendous role in interventions and healthy recoveries.

Discovering someone you love is suffering from an addiction can be devastating. Feelings of fear, anger, and sadness are common as you try to piece together what to do next. Supporting someone in confronting and overcoming their addiction is a difficult process, but ultimately it has positive impacts on a sustainable recovery.

Because addiction is a complex illness that involves both the body and brain, professional treatment is critical in a successful recovery. As you work with your loved one to move forward into treatment, there are a few key points to remember along the way.

The Road to Recovery is Rocky

Though you may have identified that someone you love is struggling with addiction, they may not have accepted this. It is important to expect that your interventions may be met with resistance, denial, or hostility. This can be due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Denial that an addiction is present
  • Lack of desire to change their behaviour
  • Fear of consequences of acknowledging the addiction, such as losing a job, family and friends, or even facing legal repercussions
  • Embarrassment or feelings of shame
  • Aversion to seeking professional help (“I can handle it on my own” attitude)
  • A feeling that the addictive behaviour is necessary to deal with another issue that seems more problematic

Expecting immediate change, or threatening or criticising someone to try and force a shift in behaviour is counterproductive. Overcoming addiction is a process, and takes time, effort, and ongoing support. A good starting point in talking to your loved one is to prioritise trust and honesty in your conversations, while also respecting their privacy.

Put an End to Enabling

In the course of dealing with a loved one’s addiction, you’ve probably tried to help in a variety of ways, with some methods being more effective than others. Understanding the difference between supporting and enabling is an important part of providing the right kind of help. Enabling protects a loved one struggling with addiction from facing the full consequences of their addiction, and allows the addiction to continue unchecked. Some examples of enabling include:

  • Denial – refusing to accept that an addiction is a serious problem that requires treatment.
    “It’s okay, he’ll know if he gets to a point where he needs to address it”
  • Justification – attempting to minimise the addiction by considering it a temporary problem, or that it is necessary given other stressors or situations.
    “She’s just got so much going on at work and at home – it makes sense that she needs to have a few drinks to relax”
  • Silence and avoidance – not communicating fears or concerns about an addiction, which can signal that there is no problem.
    “If I bring it up, it might permanently damage our relationship”
  • Allowing addictive behaviours – attempting to keep someone struggling with addiction “safe” by allowing them to engage in dependent behaviours at their homes – which also allows the addiction to continue.
    “If she’s going to use, I’d rather have her do it in a safe place where I can help her if she needs it”
  • Assuming responsibility – taking on the daily tasks or other obligations of someone struggling with addiction, thereby buffering that person from the full effects of addiction.
    “If I don’t pay his bills, he might lose his apartment”

By confronting and overcoming enabling behaviours, you can create space for open, honest communication and interactions with family members or friends struggling with addiction.

Building Trust is a Must

Damaged trust is a common and devastating byproduct of many addictions. It is also a critically important component of providing strong, effective support to someone battling an addiction. Trust can be established by: 

  • Using clear but respectful language
  • Actively listening
  • Being patient
  • Practising empathy
  • Being accountable for your own mistakes

Maintaining this model with someone impacted by addiction can be difficult. There will be times when despite your best efforts, hard-gained trust will be broken and the process of re-building that trust will need to begin.

You may also have to look at your own behaviour, particularly if you are also struggling with an addiction or facing impacts to your mental health. These challenges often underscore a need for you to seek professional help and support through this process.

Professional Treatment is Essential

You may be questioning why the person you love can’t quit, especially if their dependency is impacting other areas of their life. Many misconceptions about addiction exist, particularly around the idea that dependency occurs because of a lack of willpower. Addiction is recognised as an illness by the medical industry. Like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, a variety of environmental, biological, and social factors play a role in causing the addiction.

The biological changes that occur in the brain during addiction are what cause the loss of control over the addictive behaviour and make it increasingly difficult to stop. This is why it is necessary for people struggling with dependency to enter professional treatment. Addiction is complex, and requires highly qualified medical care in order to treat and manage it over time.

You can help by becoming informed about potential options for treatment, and identifying what types of treatment you think would be helpful for your loved one. Considering whether in-patient or out-patient addiction treatment would be most effective is a good starting point in thinking about next steps in your loved one’s recovery.

How The Dawn Can Help

The Dawn is the only residential mental health retreat in Thailand.

The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a uniquely designed Thailand rehab and wellness facility offering comprehensive, tailored in-patient programming to help people overcome addiction. Our renowned six-week Signature Addiction Programme is delivered by a team of compassionate, Western-trained counsellors and therapists and targeted towards people struggling with a variety of addictions, including:

  • Alcohol addiction 
  • Drug addiction 
  • Prescription drug addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • Dual-diagnosis

The fundamental objective of our programme is for clients to achieve and maintain long-term recovery by equipping each individual with a personalised set of coping tools to use when dealing with life’s challenges – extinguishing the desire to use again. 

Dual-diagnosis of a mental health condition and addiction

Most people struggling with an addiction also have other emotional health issues that come into play either as a byproduct of their addiction or as the main cause of their addiction. Our multi-disciplinary clinical team is made up of both addiction specialists and mental health experts who will tailor a plan that will address all your issues.

Family consultation and coaching

We recognise the effects of addiction go beyond the person struggling with a dependency. Families also bear significant impacts, even though they may not be fully aware of it. Towards the end of your loved one’s stay, we will also work with your family either on-site or remotely through a series of educational and clinical consultation sessions. These sessions will strengthen your loved one’s long-term recovery, and promote healing within the entire family unit.

Escape your triggers in Thailand

Located in a serene, riverside setting in Chiang Mai, Thailand, The Dawn offers a boutique-like atmosphere far away from triggers – the people, places, or things that contribute to an addiction. Licenced by the Thai Ministry of Health and offering 24-hour on-site medical care, The Dawn provides a safe, peaceful environment where clients can detox and focus completely on their mental and physical wellness and recovery.

We know how difficult it is to watch someone you love struggle with addiction. You don’t have to do it alone. Call us today and learn more about how we can support you and your family as you work with your loved one through the journey of recovery.

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