Supporting Your Loved Ones Through Addiction: Signs To Look For And How To Help

It’s common for our loved ones to struggle behind closed doors, dealing with struggles such as mental illness or substance use. Oftentimes, our friends, family, and those close to us choose to handle these things alone. They may avoid reaching out for help for fear of judgment or the stigma associated with mental illness and substance use. Others may suffer in silence to avoid “bothering” their friends and family with their problems.  If you’d like to know more about alcohol rehab in Melbourne check out The Hader Clinic.

It’s important to approach these situations with compassion and understanding for your loved one. However, there are signs to look for and actions you can take if you are worried about someone close to you dealing with addiction

What Is Addiction (Substance Abuse Disorder)?

Addiction is a chronic condition that can affect anyone at any age, and the behaviors associated with addiction may not be the same for one person compared to another. At the same time, addiction is a disease that affects the brain and can influence a person’s behavior. Finding a good addiction treatment center is extremely important if you are unable to quit on your own.

Illegal drugs and prescription opioids, along with more accessible substances like nicotine and alcohol, are commonly associated with substance abuse. Some people may purchase substances or experiment with them in social settings. Others may have prescriptions for certain drugs or received them from someone else with a prescription. A person may even fall victim to drug addiction due to depression, anxiety, or trauma. 

Signs of Substance Abuse

It can be easy for mental illness and addiction to go unnoticed. Knowing how to identify signs of these struggles is a crucial factor in helping your loved one get help. The symptoms of addiction can vary, however; these depend on the person and the particular substance(s) they may be using. 

Some of the indicators a family member or someone close to you may be struggling with substance abuse can include…

  • Lack of control or an inability to stay away from the substance
  • Withdrawal symptoms like shaking, sweating, vomiting, irritability, and anxiety
  • Disengagement in relationships with friends, family, or significant other 
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, home, or school
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and social activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Neglecting self-care and physical appearance
  • Awareness of the physical, mental, emotional, and financial consequences of their addiction
  • Inability to stop using the substance

How to Help

The primary action you can take to understand what your loved one is dealing with is to talk to them. Talking to your friend or family member privately about their addiction one-on-one may be less overwhelming for them than staging an intervention with other people present. 

Let them know that you care about them and are concerned for their wellbeing. Try to avoid raising your voice, indicating anger, or language that blames your loved one for the situation. Additionally, listen to your loved one’s experience, and try to understand their perspective and behavior. Understanding and acknowledging why your loved one has fallen victim to addiction will demonstrate that you are there to support them–not shame them. 

As you support a friend or family member struggling with a substance disorder, suggest attending therapy or support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, and offer to go to meetings with them. You can also be there for your loved one by helping them explore options for treatment, such as inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation or a detox center.   


Mental illness, substance use, and addiction are struggles that can affect anyone, regardless of where they come from or who they are. It’s important to recognize that addiction is a disease, and those who fall victim to substance abuse may be introduced to drugs in a variety of ways. 

If someone close to you is struggling with substance abuse, you can help. Learn how to identify the symptoms of addiction and do not be afraid to talk to your loved one about considering different options for treatment. Whether it’s through inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient rehab, everyone struggling with addiction deserves support on their path to recovery.