How to discuss your addiction with Loved ones

Genpsych November 2017

Every life has it’s challenging moments and events but telling your loved ones that you are suffering from a substance addiction can be particularly challenging. Revealing your addiction can create feelings of shame or embarrassment for yourself while simultaneously creating feelings of fear or resentment in your family and friends. Despite the fact that explaining your addiction to loved ones is challenging, it is necessary if you would like to start on the road to recovery. The information below will provide some guidance on how to break the news.

A brief overview of addiction

Basically, addiction is the inability to stop a particular behavior despite the adverse consequences that result. Addiction can be both physical and or psychological, most often it is both. This is especially true with addictions to substances such as alcohol and illicit drugs.

How to explain your addiction to Loved Ones

Once you admit to yourself that you have a substance abuse problem and make the life-changing decision to begin the recovery process, one of the first things you should do it explain your addiction to your family and friends. This step is essential for many reasons, one of which is that keeping it a secret from everyone makes it easier to relapse into the addiction. Here are several strategies you can implement while explaining your addition to loved ones:

If you don’t feel prepared to deliver the news, speak with an addiction professional first. These individuals are educated and experienced in all matters addiction, and they will be able to give you advice on how to discuss the topic with family and friends.

Develop a plan of action prior to speaking with loved ones. Whether your recovery includes rehab, detox, in-patient or out-patient, it is important to show loved ones you have a plan for recovery.

Share what types of situations, actions, attitudes, and conditions trigger your addiction. This will help prevent them from becoming enablers or individuals who facilitate your addiction.

Acknowledge and apologize for anything you have done which has affected the quality of life for your loved ones. Addiction affects everyone in the addict’s environment.

Understand that your addiction has affected the emotional, physical or spiritual well-being of those closest to you.

Be honest. Sugar-coating your addiction or downplaying how much it is disrupting your life will not paint an honest picture of what is really going on.

If you are still currently abusing drugs or alcohol, admit it.

If you can’t handle situations in which alcohol is present such as going out with friends on the weekends, tell them.

Being honest is the key to enabling your friends and family help you get on the path to recovery.

Other things to consider

In addition to being honest and informing friends and family, be aware there are services such as Intensive outpatient programs (IOP). This type of program will allow you to continue working and taking care of your family obligations while getting professional treatment around your schedule. When you enroll in an IOP, your recovery will be managed by a staff of trained professionals who possess the experience and education necessary to recover from addiction and prevent relapse.


If you are currently struggling with addiction in secrecy, be aware that informing your family and friends that you have a problem is a significant step in the right direction. When you explain your addiction honestly, you empower others to provide you with the emotional support needed to help you remain on the path to permanent recovery.

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Some facts on addiction:

National Institute on Drug Abuse: