3 Things to Consider When Bringing Up Your Loved One’s Addiction  

by | Feb 2, 2018 | Relationships | 2 comments

So, your sister has become dependent on opiate pain relievers. At first, she was taking them for a legitimate reason–a terribly painful broken ankle. Now her ankle is improving and she’s starting to walk again. You expect that she should be decreasing her medication.

Instead, she’s been taking more and more over the past several weeks, even obtaining them off the streets when her prescription runs out. She doesn’t seem to be interested in getting better for work and she has completely dropped her responsibilities as a parent onto your lap.

What do you do?

As a family member, it may be difficult, even embarrassing, to admit to yourself that your sister has a serious problem. Still, discussing the matter of her addiction is the healthiest way to reach a resolution and help her get the treatment she needs.

Follow these three strategies when discussing your loved one’s addiction.

Educate Yourself

Before you bring up the subject of addiction with your sister, it’s important to learn the facts about substance abuse. In your case, you should research and read up on the literature of prescription drug addiction.

Unfortunately, such an addiction is becoming fairly common in America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 52 million people have misused prescriptions drugs in their lifetime.

Many of those cases start in similar ways to your sister’s. A patient took a drug because he or she needed to and gradually built up a tolerance.

Like your sister, others who receive legitimate prescription narcotics each year become tolerant of the drugs and require more and more to achieve the same effect. All drug abuse does not come about as a result of recreational experimenting.

Avoid Blame

Odds are that your sister may be in denial about her condition and/or rationalizing her dependency on opiate medications with self-statements like, I need these to feel better. It’s normal to want to numb pain. 

If you approach her with judgment or blame, she will likely strike out and ‘shoot the messenger’. A great deal of shame and guilt is associated with addiction because the disease is so often wrongly linked to weakness.

After you have read upon the signs and causes of addiction, you will understand that it does not come about as a result of a weak willpower.

Even strong, disciplined people can succumb to drug addiction since the chemicals in these substances alter the way the brain works, making it more enticing to use and more difficult to quit.

Offer Support

Because individuals who abuse substances cannot quit on their own, your sister needs your help. In addition to avoiding blame, you should come to her offering a helping hand. Be direct, yet empathetic, explaining that you have noticed the signs of her dependency, and that you want to help.

Express your empathy to any feelings of shame or guilt she may be experiencing. Offer to join her in visiting a mental health professional and share the information that you have read about substance abuse.

It’s common for a loved one to be initially resistant to seeking help for addiction. Sometimes, it may take a major incident–like a DUI, or a family intervention–to provoke someone to change.

Continue to be supportive and hopeful that, if they were to seek treatment, you will stand beside them and help them to recover.

Fighting an addiction can be scary, but it’s less scary when you’re doing it together, as a family.


  1. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/director
  2. http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-adult-friend-or-loved-one-has-problem-drugs
  3. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2009/March/feature1.htm