Without Obligation.
Discreet & Confidential.

Supporting a Loved One in Recovery: Dos and Don'ts for Family and Friends

Use this guide to learn about supporting loved one, how it is linked to alcohol use and dependency, and treatment options.
If you have a family member or friend who is on the path to recovery from addiction, your support can make a world of difference. However, it’s essential to understand the right way to support them during this challenging journey. In this article, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts for family and friends when it comes to supporting a loved one in recovery.

The Importance of Your Role

Before we delve into the specifics, it’s crucial to recognize the significance of your role in your loved one’s recovery journey. Your role as a family member or friend is not just observational; it’s an active and essential part of their recovery journey. Your support, understanding, and actions can play a pivotal role in their success if you allow it.

Dos and Donts for Helping A Loved One With Addiction

Dos for Family and Friends:

Here are the things you should do to provide effective support:
  1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about addiction, the recovery process, and any specific challenges your loved one might face, such as detox.
  2. Encourage Professional Help: If your loved one is in need of detox, encourage them to seek help from a reputable detox center. Highlight the importance of medical supervision during this critical phase.
  3. Attend Support Meetings: Consider attending support meetings for families and friends of those in recovery. These meetings can provide guidance and a safe space to share experiences.
  4. Offer Emotional Support: Be there for your loved one emotionally. Let them know you’re available to listen without judgment and offer words of encouragement.
  5. Set Healthy Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from being negatively impacted by their struggles. This includes not enabling their addiction.

Don’ts for Family and Friends:

Here are the things you should avoid doing:
  1. Avoid Blame and Shaming: Don’t blame or shame your loved one for their addiction. Addiction is a complex issue with underlying causes.
  2. Don’t Enable: Refrain from enabling their addictive behaviors. This means not providing money, covering up for them, or making excuses.
  3. Avoid Being Overbearing: While support is crucial, avoid being overbearing or controlling. Let your loved one take ownership of their recovery.
  4. Don’t Expect Immediate Change: Recovery is a journey with ups and downs. Don’t expect immediate transformation; it takes time.
  5. Avoid Isolation: Don’t isolate yourself or your loved one. Stay connected with your support network and encourage your loved one to do the same.

Dual Diagnosis: Understanding the Complexity

Dual-Diagnosis Dos for Family and Friends:

  1. Seek Professional Assessment: If you suspect a dual diagnosis, encourage your loved one to undergo a professional assessment to identify and address co-occurring mental health issues.
  2. Provide Emotional Support: Be empathetic and understanding about the additional challenges they might face. Offer a listening ear and accompany them to therapy appointments if needed.

Dual-Diagnosis Don’ts for Family and Friends:

  1. Avoid Stigmatization: Don’t stigmatize mental health issues. They are common and treatable, just like addiction.
  2. Don’t Downplay the Importance of Treatment: Don’t underestimate the significance of professional treatment for dual diagnosis. It’s essential for their recovery.

Your Support Matters

Your support as a family member or friend can be a lifeline for someone in recovery. By following these dos and don’ts, you can provide the right kind of assistance that empowers your loved one on their journey to sobriety. Remember, it’s a challenging road, but your presence and understanding can make all the difference.


What if my loved one refuses professional help for detox? While it can be challenging, continue to encourage them and provide information on the benefits of detox center programs. Ultimately, the decision is theirs, but your support can sway their choice. How can I find local support meetings for families and friends of those in recovery? You can search online or contact local addiction recovery organizations to find information about support meetings in your area. Is dual diagnosis common among individuals in recovery? Yes, dual diagnosis is relatively common. Many individuals with addiction also have co-occurring mental health issues that need addressing. What if my loved one relapses during their recovery? Relapses can happen, and it’s essential not to blame or shame them. Encourage them to seek help and continue supporting their recovery efforts. Should I confront my loved one about their addiction? It’s important to address the issue, but do so with empathy and understanding. Avoid confrontation that may push them away; instead, express your concern and willingness to help.