Helping Family Through Addiction Treatment

A family participates in a family support program in UtahAt Recovery Ways a majority of the calls we receive come from family and friends looking for help for someone they love. We understand the challenges family and friends face as they attempt to assist a loved one caught in the vicious cycle of a debilitating addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs. The frustration and loneliness associated with continued heartfelt and failed attempts can be devastating, especially over time. Making the right choice is very important, but it can also be extremely difficult and overwhelming. Our Admissions Department will answer all your questions, provide referrals and help you determine the appropriate level of care for your loved one.

What To Consider When Looking for an Addiction Treatment Provider

Addiction is a disease that knows no boundaries of socioeconomic class, gender, race, intelligence, or age. Addiction affects people all across the globe, from movie stars and political leaders to grandparents. Since there is no cure for serious addictions – addiction can be effectively managed. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

Question providers about their approach to care. Be wary of those who say they have had extraordinary success or have been able to return individuals to controlled use patterns.

  • Question addiction treatment providers about which modalities therapists have been trained in. Ask whether individual therapy is available and how many sessions are provided. Be wary of programs that only use group therapy.
  • Look for an addiction treatment program that treats patients on a psychological, physical, and spiritual level.
  • Remember that drug and alcohol treatment is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Addiction Treatments vary widely according to the addictive substance, the existence of co-occurring illnesses, the age, gender and cultural background of the patient and many other variables. They must be addressed together.
  • When looking for help with Addiction from an addiction treatment program, ask if they have a family program and if so, how it works.
  • Effective treatment involves monitoring of substance use throughout treatment. Ask if the program provides random drug tests.
  • Addiction not only wears down the individual suffering from the disease directly, it also affects friends, family members, and treatment staff. Be sure that your treatment staff is not only taking care of the patients but also taking care of themselves.

When endeavoring to conquer addiction through rehab, look for a facility that is comforting. You will be spending some painful moments in this facility, so the last thing you want is to put yourself in a place that is not welcoming.

  • Find out about the programs that are offered through the treatment facility and research these modalities.
  • Some programs use a treatment approach based on shaming and berating the patient – while this approach was once widely accepted, experts now see that it is not the most effective approach. The fact is that shaming can increase the chances of relapse.
  • Most forms of serious addiction require extended care beyond any formal period of treatment. This means you will want a rehab center that provides follow-up care, at least through the 90-day point.
  • Ask about continuing care options available to patients. Ask how long the continuing care continues and what form it is in. Ask about formal efforts to link patients with AA or other mutual help groups.
  • Ask about linking the patient with their primary care physician to assure continuity of care.

When looking for help with addiction we urge you to compare our services, accommodations, and programs to that of other dual-diagnosis drug rehabs. We want you to find the addiction treatment facility that best fits the needs your loved-one and your family.

Family Support

Families need support from the moment they first suspect a member may have an addiction, to getting the loved one into treatment, changing family patterns and getting healthy while the family member is in treatment, and finally learning to be supportive in a healthy way after formal treatment is finished. If you suspect that a friend or family member has a drug problem, here are a few things you can do:

  • Speak up. Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support. The earlier addiction is treated, the better. Don’t wait for your loved one to hit bottom! Be prepared for their excuses and denial by having specific examples of behavior that has you worried.
  • Take care of yourself. Don’t get so caught up in someone else’s drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support. And stay safe. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations.
  • Don’t cover for the addict. Don’t make excuses or try to hide the problem. It’s natural to want to help a loved one in need, but protecting them from the negative consequences of their choices may keep them from getting the help they need.
  • Avoid self-blame. You can support a person with a substance abuse problem and encourage treatment, but you can’t force an addict to change. You can’t control your loved one’s decisions. Let the person accept responsibility for his or her actions, an essential step along the way to recovery for drug addiction.

Recovery Ways staff are able to answer questions and provide resources and referrals to support families to bring a loved one into treatment. Remember that a person does not need to hit “rock bottom” in order to go, and be successful in treatment.

Warning signs that a member of your family might have an addiction problem are:

Physical signs of drug abuse:

  • Bloodshot eyes or pupils that are larger or smaller than usual.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Deterioration of physical appearance and personal grooming habits.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.
  • Falling asleep in the middle of a conversation.
  • Unexplained ‘picking’ sores on face and body.
  • Weight loss or weight gain.

Behavioral signs of drug abuse:

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school.
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
  • Speech is confusing or illogical, dishonesty with even mundane things.
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities).

Psychological signs of drug abuse:

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason.
  • Disappears for days at a time with no plausible excuse.

Family Program

A core component to recovery is to strengthen a person’s social system and change this systems unhealthy behavior patterns. At Recovery Ways we offer a family program as part of our treatment to educate and heal relationships with family and friends. Our family program can consist of therapy sessions where you and your loved one will work through any unresolved issues. You and your family will also learn more about the disease of addiction and you can mend any broken or strained relationships caused by that addiction.

Along with additional services you will be included with, your loved one will receive highly accredited and successful drug addiction programs. Recovery Ways offers multiple programs for varying levels of care that your family member may need, including; inpatient detox, residential treatment and intensive outpatient.

Getting your loved one into treatment

For a person with an addiction, there is a part of them that wants to stay sober and a part of them that wants to use. The key to getting people into treatment is to tip the scales so that they want to stay sober more than they want to use. This can be done the following ways:

Ask Them.

If you feel that a person is ready for treatment all that it may take is to ask them. This is especially true if a person admits that he/she has a problem. Or if a person is attempting to stay sober but failing—such as going to 12-step meetings or therapy. However, if a person is in denial of having a problem, this step will not work. On the contrary, asking a person who is very resistant to go to treatment will only make them suspicious and guarded, making it harder for them to go in the future.

Strengthen Family Boundaries.

By working with a therapist, a family is able to change unhealthy patterns and set up firm boundaries that will be supportive without enabling the addiction. By not protecting the addict from the natural consequences of his/her use, this increases the discomfort of using and increases the motivation to get treatment.


Quite often, it takes an intervention of some type to have a loved one accept help. A properly done intervention is done with compassion, dignity, and respect. There are resources available if a family wants to do an intervention themselves. Love First by Jeff Jay and Debra Jay explains from start to finish the intervention process. We only recommend this method if you are able to have a unified family and not show any anger in the intervention. There are also professional interventionists who are experts in helping families and friends bring a person with an addiction into treatment.