How do I Tell my Family about my Problem with Substance Abuse?


Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Portrait Of A FamilyPortrait Of A FamilyThe struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol is one that brings about much shame, guilt, frustration, anger, and a myriad of other emotions.  It can be difficult to convey what you are dealing with to others, even those who may be closest to you, especially if you are not fully sure of the severity of your own addiction.  Perhaps you have not been able to share your struggle with addiction with your family and loved ones due to fear of letting them down or disappointing them.  Whatever your situation may be, keeping your struggles to yourself will only worsen your pain and make recovery and healing much more difficult.

Get Help if you Need It

Red heart in family hands on bright backgroundIf you are in a position where you have been holding back the truth about yourself and your addiction from your loved ones, it may be helpful to work with a counselor or therapist to find a way to communicate what you are dealing with.  Hiding under your addiction will only isolate you and keep you further away from recovery.  Talking about your addiction may be the last thing you want to be, but sharing the truth about your situation will bring relief and take a tremendous burden off your shoulders.

Mother with daughter at homeConsider working with a counselor on campus or trusted mentor, teacher, pastor, etc.  Having someone to talk with about what your are feeling and fears you may be experiencing can help you process the emotions you have about talking to your family about your addiction.  This can also give you better insight about what you want to share with your family as well.  Talking with a trusted friend or mentor can also give you ideas about what you want to share and how you may want to say it.

Be sure to have discussions with your family in an environment that feels safe for all of you to open up and talk with.  Set aside dedicated to your conversation that will be free of interruptions.  Ultimately, know that you are taking an important step towards healing, which begins with openness about your struggle with an addiction.  Know that your family and loved ones will love and support your unconditionally and want only the best for your life, healing and  recovery.


Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you ever been in a position where you needed to share difficult news with family members and close friends?  If so, what helped you share this news with those closest to you?  What encouragement might you share with others who are in a similar situation?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions and co-occurring disorders.  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 a combination of 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.  

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 4, 2015. Published on