Helping a Family Assist a Loved One in Recovery

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

family therapy

Family involvement in a loved one’s treatment and recovery from drugs or alcohol provides a powerful tool that prevents future addiction and substance abuse. The National Institutes on Health1 report that the family plays a central role in an individual’s recovery because they provide the support system. Although the family helps a loved one reach personal goals, they also need support and assistance throughout the process so that the entire family improves and grows.

Impact of Family on Recovery

The National Institutes on Health1 state that the family members often face consequences when a loved one abuses drugs or alcohol. By involving family members in the treatment process, a loved one rebuilds and improves personal relationships while working toward realistic recovery goals.

Ways a family member helps a loved one recover from addiction include:

  • Providing support throughout the recovery process
  • Helping a loved one after treatment
  • Listening to a loved one’s concerns or problems
  • Handling specific tasks for a loved one while he or she works on recovery, such as caring for plants, a pet or similar concerns that distract from treatment
  • Working together with family therapy

Regaining a sense of trust after a loved one abuses drugs or alcohol takes time. Family members do not always understand the reasons a loved one abuses a substance or the mental health concerns that contribute to the addiction. By working on the recovery process as a family, you and other family members work on underlying concerns and learn valuable skills that help a loved one stay on track after treatment.

Therapy for the Family

When a loved one seeks treatment for addiction, other family members benefit from family therapy that helps with specific skills and goals. The benefits of family therapy include:

  • Changing certain behaviors that enable a loved one to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Recognizing enabling behaviors and stopping the action early
  • Learning appropriate ways to support and help a loved one
  • Rebuilding trust with other family members
  • Working out realistic plans for a potential relapse

Family therapy helps the entire family by developing an internal support group. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration2 reports that family members face several complicated emotions during a loved one’s treatment program, so therapy helps support their concerns and needs.

When the family members learn coping strategies for stress or problems, they help a loved one during his or her recovery by offering valuable information, staying calm in different situations and learning about the underlying causes of a loved one’s addiction.

Support Groups

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration3 says recovery support comes from different sources. When a family member plans to help a loved one, he or she sets up a safe and supportive environment in the home. Family members also have the opportunity to join support groups in the community that help with the complications of the situation. Community support groups depend on the specific situation and personal goals, but family members also benefit from joining and participating in a support group.

Encouraging a loved one during his or her recovery program provides the opportunity to start obtaining realistic goals. Although family involvement helps, you must also consider the stress and complications of your personal situation. Offer support by getting involved in family therapy and support groups that help you maintain a calm and safe home environment.


  1. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy, The National Institutes on Health,
  2. Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Supporting Family Members of Loved Ones with Serious Mental Illnesses, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, May 26, 2015,
  3. Recovery and Recovery Support, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,

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