How Do I Talk to a Family Member with an Addiction?


It is painful watching someone you love go through an addiction that is possibly ruining their lives and affecting those around them. While you know that you have to confront them about their condition, it can be nerve-wracking to figure out how the subject should be approached. Confronting someone about their addiction is a delicate process. You don’t want them to feel attacked, as many don’t realize they have an addiction until it’s pointed out. 

How to Determine if Your Loved One Has an Addiction

Before you mention anything to your loved one, it may be a good idea to research the specific type of addiction you believe they may be suffering from. Ensure you know the signs and symptoms of that addiction and determine if your loved one is exhibiting them. 

Discuss your loved one’s symptoms or behaviors with a trained professional and possibly trustworthy friends and family members. Of course, you don’t want to tell everyone that your loved one has an addiction, but hearing someone else’s opinion on the matter can be helpful. 

Initiating the Conversation

Make sure that you speak with your loved one in a safe environment where you both feel comfortable. This could help prevent any possible outbursts or irrational actions from either party. You should pick an appropriate time during which both of you have plenty of time to talk. It is also essential that your loved one isn’t under the influence of anything when speaking with them. 

There are many ways one could initiate a conversation about addiction. However, you should always let your loved one know how much you care about them. It is a good idea to practice what you will say as it can help prevent some of the arousals of nerves associated with the conversation.

Tell your loved one about the behaviors you’ve been observing and try not to exaggerate. 

Don’t do all the talking. The goal is to have a conversation with your loved one. Maybe their addiction started with something traumatic that they want to get off their chests. Either way, having a dialogue makes both parties feel heard. 

Don’t force your views on your loved one. Making someone confront their addiction when they aren’t ready can lead to them not wanting to take your advice. Your goal should be to plant a seed in their head. Let them know that there is a problem that needs fixing. If they aren’t ready to confront this issue, then let them know that you still love them, and you’d like to discuss it again at a later time. 

You could also suggest attending a meeting hosted by addiction recovery groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Offering to go with them to some form of counseling could also be an excellent first step. 

Being Safe

With some people, confronting their addiction could cause them to lash out, resulting in physical violence. This is why it is crucial to make sure you are safe with your family member. Safety may include addiction professionals, other family members, or a safe, neutral space. If you think that your loved one has the intention of causing you physical harm, call the police immediately. 

Don’t Wait Too Long

When it comes to addiction, the sooner you get treatment, the better. If you are positive that your loved one has an addiction, then plans to confront them should be made immediately. This is especially important if your loved one has a health condition made worse by their addiction. 

Getting your loved one the help they need earlier on can prevent them from descending more in-depth into their addiction. It is much easier to save someone from drowning the closer they are to shore. 

Final Thoughts

Confronting your loved one about their addiction can be terrifying. You might think that it’s none of your business or worry that you might lose them altogether. While these things are possibilities, your loved one’s life should be more important than anything. You can only hope that they will take what you’ve said to heart and go on to improve their lives. 

It is essential always to be supportive and encouraging, especially if your loved one decides to get help for their addiction. There are plenty of resources out there, and people willing to help. 


Having a family member with an addiction can be a terrible strain on your life in many aspects. When confronting them, be sure to know they are loved and that you are worried about their health. If your loved one is ready for treatment, Choice House can help. The treatment we offer has dramatically improved the lives of those that have entered our doors. Located in Boulder, CO, Choice House provides a variety of programs focusing on outdoor activities as a means of confronting addiction. Our sober living facility offers fantastic views of the Boulder landscape, and the Rocky Mountains foothills are just a short bus ride away. We provide a safe and friendly community for those seeking treatment and encourage our residents to form deep, long-lasting connections with one another. Our facility also knows that every individual is different, so our programs cater to many different types of personalities, background situations, or mental health disorders. We ensure that each person finds the method that best resonates with them. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, call (720) 577-4422 for more information on Choice House.

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