A person holding onto their loved one during times of strife.

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A person holding onto their loved one during times of strife.

Opening up to your family about addiction

Medically reviewed by

Written by Kshithij Karan

Coping with addiction is an overwhelming experience, but recovery doesn’t have to be. You can overcome your addiction with the support of people around you. Although medical and psychological advice from experts are necessary, it is also important to build a solid support system. Often, these support systems include people that are close to you such as your family, friends or partner. 

Finding a support system that makes you feel comfortable will be very helpful on your way to recovery. In this regard, family members are often best equipped to provide consistent care. Since your family members have seen you grow up, understand your triggers and are more likely to be around you, it is very beneficial to open up to them about your addiction. 

We understand that not everyone has a positive family dynamic, and that communicating with your family during this difficult period is challenging. So, it is perfectly normal for you to be put off by thoughts of letting down or disappointing your family members. Yet, sharing your journey through addiction with your family can bring you a sense of relief. 

By opening up and being honest about your addiction, you can create an environment of accountability which can help your family see that you are determined to change your situation. When your family members become aware of your addiction, they can then help you stay on track on your road to recovery and mitigate chances of any relapses. Importantly, you will feel that you are not alone on your path to overcoming addiction. 

Preparing for the conversation 

Taking the step to open up shows that you recognise your challenges and are willing to overcome them. When it comes to having the conversation, it ultimately boils down to how comfortable you are in the moment, which is why it is a good idea to figure out how you would approach it. Remember that there is no strict, prescribed way to approach this conversation. That said, experts recommend that considering the following points can be helpful in opening up to your family. 

Before the conversation 

Making the decision to be transparent about your addiction takes a lot of courage. Whatever happens next, know that you have made significant progress simply by considering this option. 

Everybody reacts to information differently, and based on what you know about your family members, it is a good idea to have a rough plan on how exactly you want to share the information. While some people prefer telling it to a closer relative first before sharing it with the rest of the family, others may feel more comfortable sharing it with a larger group of loved ones at once. Think about what scenario would make you feel more relaxed and make the decision accordingly.  

After that, consider picking a place and time that makes you feel comfortable. Having a trusted friend along while having the conversation can also be beneficial. While it is difficult to prepare for the emotional reactions that your family members may express, remember that they do so because they care. They will need some time to process the information.

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During the conversation

When you open up about your addiction, consider being completely transparent. We understand that this is an emotionally taxing ordeal, but remember that your family members are best equipped to help you when they are fully aware of the extent of your addiction. Knowing everything will allow them to make further accommodations to assist you in recovery. This also creates a feeling of mutual trust which will be necessary not just for recovery, but your relationship through the process and after it. 

During the conversation, it would be really beneficial to let your family know that you need them and request them to understand where you’re coming from. Letting them know that you value their support will make them feel included and involved. 

We understand that the conversation may not go as planned. Your family members may feel sad, frustrated or disappointed, but as time passes, they will come around to better understand what you are going through. They will be happy to know that you’re willing and committed to recover, and in turn, extend their support. Managing emotions during this conversation is hard, but giving them time to fully understand the issue is important to get them on board.

After the conversation

Considering the stigma around drug addiction, you can expect your family members to initially feel let down and find it difficult to relate to your challenges. It may take some time for them to adjust. That said, the period after revealing your addiction is crucial in creating a positive communication system with your family. While there may be initial disagreements on how you would want to go about your recovery, these conversations allow you and your family to start thinking along the same lines. 

This is a phase where you can work with your family to find the best way forward. It can act as a window of opportunity to strengthen your bond with your loved ones. It will not be an easy process but overcoming challenges with your family can be a great way to nurture your relationship. Creating a feeling of togetherness can help you and your family work together to evaluate the right treatment or rehabilitation options, consult an expert and kick-start the process of recovery. Once you have committed to rehabilitation, let us do the rest. At Anunitha, we provide personalized recovery programmes that will help you overcome your addiction, one step at a time. 

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How can we help?

During recovery, it is important that you and your family are on the same page. But we understand that things may not always be smooth on the road to recovery. This is why we have designed regular family therapy sessions to facilitate a better, transparent dialogue between you and your loved ones. We aim to help your family better understand the struggles that come with addiction and guide them through how they can be of support to you. As you make progress, we can help you solidify your support systems and create a lasting bond. 

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