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Frustrations for Families of Drug Addicts

By Jenny Hunt, Palm Partners Treatment Center

January 25, 2012

Having a drug addict or alcoholic in the family can be very frustrating. Families of drug addicts and alcoholics want their loved one to change, but often feel impotent and unable to affect that change.  When there is a drug addict or alcoholic in the family, everyone suffers. Often, it is not just the addict who is dysfunctional, but the entire family dynamic that is unhealthy. Because family members love the person addicted to drugs or alcohol, they unwittingly enable that person to continue using and drinking.

A drug addict or alcoholic is compelled with getting and using drugs and alcohol, no matter what the consequences to their own life and that of their families. As a drug addict wreaks havoc on their own life, their family will often adjust their own lives to compensate. Families will financially support the addict or alcoholic when their addictions interfere with their work; they make excuses for the drug addict when he or she engages in hurtful behavior; they bail a drug addict out of jail when he or she gets arrested as a result of their using. Often, a family will support an addict or alcoholic to the point of their own financial ruin: giving the drug addict money, allowing him or her to steal from them, or paying for expensive drug treatment centers. Often, when families financially support a drug addict in this way, they are doing them more harm than good.

Another frustration of the family of a drug addict is all the lying and manipulation that goes on. Lying is a natural part of addiction; an addict cannot keep using and abusing drugs unless he or she becomes an adept liar. Often, the family of a drug addict will try to confront the addict again and again about their problem, and never get a straight answer. Drug addicts lie about using, how much they use, who they are using with, how they get money to support their habit, etc. Drug addicts manipulate their families into believing that they “need” the drugs, that they are not abusing the drugs, that they have quit or will quit using, that they don’t really have a problem. This can be very frustrating to the family of a drug addict as they watch their loved one spiral out of control.

The hardest part for the family of a drug addict or alcoholic is often separating their love for the individual from what is in the best interest of the addict. Often, the families of a drug addict don’t want to confront the drug addict because they don’t want to hurt them, make them angry, or just don’t want to deal with the situation. Sometimes the best thing a family can do to help a drug addict is to practice “tough love.” This is a life and death disease, and if the family of a drug addict or alcoholic continues to enable him or her to use or drink, they can literally “love [them] to death.” Often, the only way to convince a drug addict or alcoholic to get help is by refusing to support them either emotionally or financially until they seek professional help.

If you or someone you know needs drug or alcohol treatment call us at (877) 711-HOPE (4673) or visit us online at


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