How to Help a Family Member with an Addiction

It is difficult dealing with a family member who is struggling with an addiction. It takes intentional listening, meaningful communication, avenues for change, and self-care to persevere.


Pay attention to what your loved one is saying and doing. Listen to both verbal and nonverbal cues. What are the warning signs? Those struggling with addiction will usually voice warning signs, or these can be found in their body language. 

One parent I worked with said she could tell her teenage son was struggling because he was no longer himself. Signs he showed were constant restlessness, sleeping during non-traditional hours, and irritability. After doing a sweep of his room she found a stash of drugs. It wasn’t until the family confronted the matter that they knew what was actually going on.


The worst thing you can do is keep quiet. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open to your family member who has an addiction.

Asking questions and seeking answers is not being invasive, in fact it shows them you really care. Even if your loved one is not forthcoming, keep pursuing them and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Supportive questions are helpful, for example, “How are you doing?” and “Is there something we can talk about?” 

Talking does not have to equate to confrontation. Remember to be kind, attentive, and honest.

Tough Love

This is a term that you might have heard about. But what does it really mean? Tough love is really honesty. It is how we speak the truth to what really matters. It is really the act of climbing out of denial and demonstrating to our family member that we want to help them, and not enable them.

This can mean taking away certain privileges, or not lending them money or material

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What should you do during a psychiatric medication shortage? – Harvard Health Blog

You have finally found a medication to treat your depression that your body tolerates well. It has taken your psychiatrist months to find the optimal dose (after two failed medication trials). The COVID-19 pandemic hit, but in spite of your new daily stressors, you seem to be doing relatively well. That is, until you hear that your antidepressant medication is now in short supply. What can you do?

Mental health treatment during COVID-19

With the increased stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, prescriptions for medications to treat mental illnesses have increased more than 20% between February and March 2020. Sertraline, or Zoloft, one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the United States, is now on the list of drugs in shortage. This will affect many people living with mental illness, as Zoloft treats depression, in addition to obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It is commonly recommended as the preferred medication for women with these issues who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Questions to ask your clinician

As distressing as a drug shortage may be, there is no need to panic. It does make sense, however, to discuss options with your prescribing clinician as soon as possible. Although the FDA indicates that the Zoloft shortage may last for 60 days, it is unclear whether the medication will be easily available after that time.

Knowing the nature of the drug shortage can help with shared decision-making. In the case of Zoloft, higher-dose tablets are in limited stock, but lower-dose tablets are currently still available. Your doctor may suggest temporarily taking a few of the lower-dose tablets to achieve your correct dosage. You can also ask about tapering off or switching medications, which may become options if the shortage persists.


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