How to Explain to My Family that I Have a Drug or Drinking Problem

Addiction and substance use disorders are mental health problems just like depression and anxiety. However, addiction is unique in that it can convince the sufferer that he or she doesn’t have a problem. If you’ve acknowledged that you have a drug or alcohol addiction, then you’ve already taken an enormous step toward recovery. Understanding addiction and being willing to talk about it are two things that require a lot of mental and emotional strength. Still, explaining your addiction to family members is no easy task. You can lighten the burden by planning ahead. You might even rehearse what you plan to say during the conversation. Meanwhile, take a look at the guidelines below.

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Understanding Addiction

First, start by understanding the nature of addiction. When you understand how addiction happens, you’ll find it easier to talk to your family about it.

In the simplest terms, drugs and alcohol affect different parts of the brain and body. When your brain and body get used to the drugs, you’ll start to feel like you need them to survive and get through your day. Some people are more prone to addiction than others, just like some people are more prone to depression than others. A combination of genetic and environmental factors can increase a person’s addiction risk.

Acknowledge the Addiction

Decide ahead of time when and where you’re going to tell your family about your addiction. You might meet at someone’s house for dinner, for instance. If you can’t stomach the idea of a face-to-face meeting, you might write a letter instead. Another option is to choose one caring and understanding family member to tell first. You can then ask this family member to help you explain your addiction in the rest of the group. In any case, take the time to acknowledge that you know you have an addiction. When you start by saying that you know you have a problem, you may find that your family members are more open and understanding than you anticipated.

Apologize for Harm Caused

While addiction is indeed a mental health disorder, it can still cause a lot of harm to friends and family members. This step may be the most difficult, but when you openly say that you know that your addiction has hurt others, you take away the power of shame. Shame prevents people from making a full recovery, but you can give yourself power by taking this step. Honest apologies often inspire understanding and forgiveness. However, give your loved ones time to process your apologies.

If you’re struggling with an addiction, call 800-492-QUIT to get help.

Share Your Willingness to Get Help

Next, explain to your family that you’re willing to get help for your addiction. This is another very powerful step. Family members are often more than willing to help their loved ones find the resources that they need. You have many different options for treatment.

First, if you’re addicted to alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines, most experts would recommend that you start with medical detox. The reason why experts recommend medical detox is because these drugs can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In a medical detox facility, your doctors might help you taper off the drugs gradually so that your system doesn’t experience a shock. The medical staff can also provide you with medications in a supervised environment to help with the pain and insomnia that sometimes comes with withdrawal.

After detox, you should strongly consider entering a rehab facility. Government-owned rehabs are run by the state, and these options are free. However, these facilities tend to have fewer resources than private rehabs. Private facilities, on the other hand, have far more resources and more pleasant environments. However, these options can cost a lot of money. Scholarship funds and payment plans may be available to help you afford these options. After you graduate from rehab, you should also consider going to regular therapy sessions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in particular has proven successful for people with addictions.

Talking to Children

More than 28 million Americans have had at least one parent struggle with alcoholism.

If you have children, talking to them can be the hardest part of explaining your addiction. More than anything else, make sure that you assure your kids that you love them and that the addiction is not their fault. Additionally, keep the following things in mind:

  • Use age-appropriate language.
  • Choose a calm environment.
  • Be honest.
  • Explain that you plan to get help.
  • Consider enlisting help from another parent or other caring figure in the child’s life.
  • Keep the conversation hopeful.

Knowing Where to Start

When you need one-on-one advice about quitting drugs, rehab, and talking to your family members, Rehab Info is here to help. We can talk to you about your treatment options, point out the treatment centers in your area and budget, and offer advice about making the right choice.

If you’re ready to take your life back from addiction

call 800-492-QUIT to get compassionate help today.
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