Discussing Seeking Substance Use Disorder Treatment with Loved Ones

Nature Path Through Trees in Forest

Research shows that support from loved ones can help decrease substance use [1]. Some people struggling with substance use or addictions keep their behavior a secret, especially from loved ones. This can be due to feeling ashamed, a desire to continue using substances, or fear of judgment.

This can make it challenging to share with family or loved ones from whom you need help. However, there are ways to make this conversation easier. Here are three tips for discussing substance use treatment with your loved ones:

Discuss the Impact of Substance Use on Your Life

Sometimes when people are worried, they can minimize problems by acting like they aren’t a big deal. This is what mental health professionals refer to as a defense mechanism. Pretending like something isn’t a big deal when it is can help block out upsetting feelings.

Loved ones are likely to be concerned when learning about addictions and possible underlying mental health issues. It can be helpful to share with your family and loved ones the impact that substances have on your life.

This might require reflection before the conversation to really understand how substances impact your mood, physical health, career, academics, and relationships. This can help your loved ones understand why you need treatment and make it harder to minimize the problem’s severity.

Talk About Benefits of Substance Use Treatment

family sitting on grass discussing Substance Use TreatmentTell your loved ones about the potential benefits of treatment. It might be helpful to research treatment options so you are familiar with what type of treatment you’ll receive.

While there are similarities between certain treatment programs, centers may have differences. Loved ones are more likely to understand the potential benefit of treatment if they know what treatment entails and how this will benefit you in the long term.

Tell Them How They Can Support You

It can be difficult for a support system to know how to help someone. Even with the best intentions, it’s impossible to always know what to do to help because no one is a mind reader.

Being direct with your loved ones about specific ways they can support you makes it clear and easier to do. This not only makes it easier on others but is beneficial in increasing the quality of support you receive.

Support can look different. It may be that you need your loved ones to support your decision to go to treatment, provide accountability, or listen to you on difficult days. Regardless of what type of support you need, being direct with your loved ones about their support can make this process easier for everyone.

While talking to loved ones about substance use treatment can be difficult, it would be worth it if it means reclaiming your life from substances or addiction. Everyone deserves that.


[1] Clark, R.E. (2001). Family support and substance use outcomes for persons with mental illness and substance use disorders. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 27(1), 93-101. DOI:10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a006862

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on August 26, 2020
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 26, 2020
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.