Dealing with Your Emotions While Helping a Loved One Who’s Addicted to Drugs

Young Teen Girls
Written by Christina Moore

Here are a few pointers on getting help for yourself as you cope with having an addict as a family member.

Dealing with an addiction in your family can be emotionally overwhelming. You recognize the signs of addiction in them, and see how it is destroying their lives – and unfortunately yours. You’ve likely tried several times to approach them on the matter and convince them to get help with little to no success.

What must be understood is that addiction is a family disease. While there is only one drug addict in the family, everyone who cares for them suffers from the disease as well. Failure to get help for yourself could lead to serious emotional distress and a decreased quality of life.

Below you’ll find a few pointers on getting help for yourself as you cope with having an addict as a family member.

Understand What Addiction Really Is

When a person begins to use drugs and alcohol, they are in full control of how much they use, how often they use it, and what types of drugs they use. While there are plenty of reasons why they may have started using drugs in the first place, often it is to block out unwanted emotion or events in their lives. Using drugs makes them feel good, sending waves of “positive energy” to the brain.

However, as the drug use turns to addiction, the user is no longer in control of their actions. They’ve been using it so long that the brain believes it needs drugs to feel good. Eventually, the need to use consumes the person’s life.

Educating yourself on what addiction is and how it affects your family member can help you to move on emotionally. To do this you will need to avoid self blame and realize what you can and cannot control.

Avoid Self Blame

Whether you’re the parent, spouse, or sibling of an addict, blaming yourself is often common. Did I not make a good example as they were growing up? Was I too hard on them about other things in their life? Maybe I shouldn’t have taken them to those wild college parties when we were teenagers? Do I demand too much of them on the daily basis?
Many questions come to mind as you try to rationalize their addiction, however, you shouldn’t be so quick to point the finger at yourself. Putting yourself down about the matter only makes things worse. While there are many reasons why your family member may have chosen to start using drugs, the addiction developed over time and is a direct result of their use…not your actions.

Realize What You CAN and CANNOT Change

It’s also pretty common to want to change your loved one. You might attempt to talk to them with the support of other family members, get them treatment by talking about rehab centers, and even assume the responsibility of “babysitting” them to ensure they don’t use again. While all of these actions are thoughtful, the truth is, you cannot help your family member until they can admit their addiction and seek treatment for themselves. Realizing that you have no power over their addiction or their effort to get help can often ease some of the stress and pain you’re feeling.

The good news is that you can change and help yourself. Regardless of what route your loved one decided to take on their addiction, getting help for yourself and getting some normalcy back in your life is a vital next step for your emotional well-being. To help yourself, you will need to do two things: continue to take care of yourself and seek professional help for your emotions.

Take Care of Yourself

According to the info guide at, your love and support is part of what will ultimately help your family member through long term recovery. However, if you’re not taking care of yourself, chances are you’re not going to be much help to your loved one. Now is the time to focus on you. Taking care of yourself should include things like:
– Exercising on the regular basis
– Eating well balanced meals at least three times a day
– Going out and being involved socially
– Carrying on with your daily routines

Life does go on, and neglecting yourself as you wait for your loved one to come around is never the answer. However, strengthening yourself and taking care of yourself makes it easier to provide support when they need it.
Seek Professional Help

The last step to helping yourself is seeking professional help. Though you’re not the one with the addiction, it has affected you emotionally. The only way to cope with those emotions and move on is to learn how to handle those emotions as they arise.

There are several options for getting help. The first would be to reach out to a therapist that specializes in drug counseling for families. They are best equipped to help you understand your loved one, and how to cope with your emotions. Another option for getting help is joining a support group for families. These support groups offer a different point of view that you may not receive from a therapist. It is filled with families and supporters of addicts. It allows you to share experiences, get advice, and see various stages of addiction and recovery from the family’s point of view.

The road to recovery certainly won’t be an easy one for yourself, or for your loved one. However, it is important that you don’t get so caught up in their addiction, that you forget to take care of yourself. If you’re at your wits end with trying to help a loved one get treatment for their addiction, it may be time to take a step back, and care for you.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

My main acceptance in life would be that “change” itself is a constant and regardless of opinion it is inevitable. Making peace with ones self and accepting the things we CANNOT change is key to living a full and happy life. Within those experiences we grow as people and learn.

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I have learned to appreciate all of my imperfections as it makes me who I am as a person and in reality “perfection” is all up for interpretation. In return I have taught myself to replace the old methods in dealing with situations and problems with ones that will deliver or elicit positive responses and solutions.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

I believe my core values or the personal rules I have set in place for myself and chose to live by have brought nothing but reward to my life as it has created my known presence to be one of value and those things remind me daily of my standards set if ever I were to steer off course.

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

Over analyzing every situation would definitely be a not-so-perfect quirk about myself, leading my mind to wander with thoughts of what-if’s, that usually are just that, “what-if’s”. Along with spontaneity and positivity it creates my not-so-perfect, but awesome self!! :)

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)

Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?

I love my positive outlook on life and the huge heart I carry with me daily filled with nothing but compassion for others and a willingness to always be learning something new.


Image “Young Teenage Girls” by Ambro courtesy of


About the author

Christina Moore

Christina Moore is a part time blogger and full time adventurer! Originally from the east coast, she now resides in San Diego. If she's not writing you can find her on the beach soaking up the sun.

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