How to Avoid Relapse Around Addicted Family Members

When you leave the lifestyle of active addiction, one of the biggest challenges is reconnecting with people from your old life. Many of them knew you when you were using, and some of them might still be using, too. However, what can you do when the person in your life who’s still using is a family member?

Dealing with drug use in your family is always a challenge. Knowing the difference between helping and enabling can be difficult at times. And watching someone go through something as terrible and life-altering as active addiction can cause heartache. However, when you have your own recovery and sobriety to consider, the challenge increases dramatically.

Maintaining your sobriety is one of the most important ongoing parts of your recovery, and it requires continual commitment. If a loved one is using around you, it poses a significant threat to your drug abstinence. Learn more about how you can deal with an addicted family member without relapsing.  

Don’t Accept Drug Use

As part of your relapse prevention plan, you might have set rules and boundaries for yourself. You might have resolved to avoid parties where you know there will be drug use. You may even avoid certain routes that go past some of your old favorite bars.

When you encounter friends and family members who are still in the throes of active addiction, it’s important to have boundaries for them, too. If you live with or spend a lot of time with someone who uses, you should let them know that you won’t tolerate drug use in your presence. If someone uses legal recreational substances like alcohol, you can still tell them that it makes you uncomfortable to be around it.

Setting clear boundaries for yourself removes some of the uncertainty when it comes to certain high-risk situations. It’s easier not to cross the line when the line is clearly drawn. Setting boundaries with someone who is addicted can also show them your commitment to sobriety. In some cases, you may have to cut ties with them until they seek recovery.

Avoid Constant Triggers

Triggers are a fact of life for people who are living in recovery from addiction or other mental health issues for that matter. Some triggers come from inside your own mind and can be difficult to avoid completely. Others can come on suddenly, like when a billboard ad for some ice-cold beer triggers alcohol cravings. While it’s important to learn to cope positively with cravings and triggers, you should also avoid regular sources of triggers when you can. A friend or family member who continues to use around you can cause you to continually cause you to have thoughts and triggers toward relapse, testing the limits of your coping mechanisms.

If you have gone through addiction treatment, you may have experienced elements ofcognitive behavioral therapy at some point in your treatment process. In the cognitive-behavioral model, high-risk scenarios are the first catalyst for a relapse. A relapse doesn’t start with the first time you use again; it starts with the way that you cope with a high-risk situation. If you live with, or if you are always around someone who uses, you are constantly in a high-risk scenario. Relapse is a very real threat to recovery. Like other chronic diseases, addiction relapse occurs in more than50 percent of people in recovery.  

Avoiding triggers might mean distancing yourself from people who are still using. While this may sound harsh, it might be as beneficial to your addicted family member as much as it is for you.

Don’t Be an Enabler

While you were going through active addiction and treatment, your family may have had to learn how to avoidenabling behaviors. Now that you’ve completed treatment, and you’re encountering other people in your life in active addiction, it’s important to learn to avoid enabling as well. If a family member is struggling with active addiction, you, more than anyone, understand what they are going through. You might want to help them, ease their pain, or cover for them.

However, enabling is often defined as shielding an addicted person from a consequence of their addiction. Softening the blows that are coming as a result of their actions and behaviors can prolong the time they spend in active addiction before seeking help. If you’ve set clear rules about being around drug and alcohol use and abuse and a family member continues to break them, one of the consequences of their addiction might be that they see you less often.

It may seem like a drastic move, but if a family member is putting your sobriety at risk, it might be best to remove yourself from those high-risk situations. You can let the addicted person in your life know that you will be there to help them find addiction treatment as soon as they agree to seek the help they need. However, risking your own sobriety to be around someone who is using, may only serve to enable them and risk your recovery.

Continue Your Recovery

Addiction treatment is important in achieving and learning how to maintain sobriety. However, after you complete your addiction treatment, it’s important to continue your pursuit of recovery. People often relapse when they become complacent in their recovery process, and when you encounter high-risk situations like a using family member, it puts a strain on your resolve. However, going to 12 step meetings, connecting with your support group, and connecting with your alumni coordinators, can help heal you on the road to recovery, even as new challenges pop up.

Seeking Addiction Help

If a loved one or family member is ready to address their substance use disorder, you might be able to help them find the right addiction treatment services for their needs. Call the addiction treatment specialists at The Palm Beach Institute at 855-534-3574 or contact us online to learn more about the available therapy options and how you can help your loved one get the care they need. If you are worried that you might need help preventing your own relapse, or if you’ve started to use again, we might be able to help you find additional treatment or aftercare services as well. Call anytime.


Warning Signs of Addiction Families Need to Recognize

An individual displays his or her addiction through a range of behaviors, most of which are adverse with consequences attached.  These behaviors can serve as warning signs of addiction, and they’re ones that can help families recognize that a loved one is in danger and needs help recovering from a substance use problem or an addiction.

The time it takes to realize and confront your loved one about addiction is crucial to the beginning of the recovery process. Addiction hasadverse long-term effects that will only worsen if they go unnoticed. For family members concerned with missing the signs of drug abuse, here are the most common behaviors a person in active addiction may display.

Types of Negative Behavior

Negative behavior is the action of wrongdoings. There are underlying causes of theses actions coinciding with drug abuse. Although each person may express addiction differently, there is a common theme that ties together the actions of the addicted loved one. When it comes to drug use, the warning signs of addiction families should be aware of consist of the following:

  • Isolation
  • Disinterest
  • Secrecy
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity
  • Manipulation
  • Dishonesty

When people are mentally and physically dependent on a substance, they lose themselves. The fire that once lit up their lives slowly dims into a dark spiral of existence. The once-vibrant and lively individual turns into a distant human being with the monster of addiction controlling his or her every move.

For people struggling with addiction, it becomes difficult to live how they once did. During their addiction, they find it increasingly overwhelming to keep up with the lives they were leading before their drug use took a turn for the worse. With these feelings at hand, people with an addiction may start to display clear signs of discontent and irritability not only toward themselves but everyone around them.

Here, we explore a few in-depth examples of the warning signs of addiction that families may notice.


Isolation and seclusion are easy to notice, and distant behavior is hard to miss when family members are paying attention to their loved one’s actions. People with addiction often feel shame and guilt for becoming dependent on a substance, so they stay away from the ones who perhaps know them best. The person who is using does not want anyone to bring their drug use into light. This pressing issue pushes addicted people to become more of a recluse. As a result, they refuse any human interaction to enter their life.


A loved one’s disinterest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed and participated in is another common sign that family members may notice when observing a loved one who has addiction issues. This can also apply to hobbies or participation in family traditions.

Sometimes this moment is described, by many, as their disinterest in participating in certain family activities. A typical beginning is in the avoidance of family meals like dinner. Several sociologists have described family discussion over dinner as an integral part of relationship building. It has been connected to the happiest families and scored the highest on tests involving perceptions of relationship stability.

Disinterest can affect many tastes and perceptions about people, places, or things they once sought after.


As an addiction progresses, the person who uses will eventually encounter self-denial. Hiding the effects of substance abuse and the habit itself commonly happens with nearly all types of addictions, especially ones that involve a substance.

When the addiction reaches a certain level of severity, the family should directly confront the person about their substance use. The very nature of someone being secretive about their habit likely means that learning about the problem will be a more difficult task. Attention to detail is vital in understanding and knowing what to look for.


Addiction is a disease that many different people fail to understand as a totalitarian disease. It is a fairly tricky disease to fight against, which makes anger the most natural to understand in the battle.

Nobel Peace laureate Daniel Kahneman, the author of the landmark book Thinking Fast and Slow, has a name for what happens when people, such as those with addiction, are having an internal battle. Eventually, it produces explosive rage and annoyance. He names it “ego depletion,” the act of the ego losing control because of the many factors going on around it.

A better way to understand ego depletion as it relates to addiction is also to understand the energy it takes to suffer through it.

A person who struggles with addiction understands that composure is part of keeping the problem a secret. However, attempting to keep the addiction secret, which addiction in itself is overwhelming, becomes exhausting over time.

Addressing the Red Flags of Addiction That Families Face 

If it just so happens that the “warning signs of addiction families need to recognize” reveal to you that your loved one is an addict, do not fret. There are manyroutes to take that will lead your loved one to success in recovery.

In a drug-induced fog, people who are in active addiction often do not realize the weight of their actions. They are unaware of how their actions may seem suspicious to family members and loved ones. Although they are the ones who ultimately decide to use the substance, there may be times when the person can’t control their desire to use and the necessary actions they must take to do so.

More often than not, when people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol feel that family members attack them, they will shut down and refuse help. The approach a family member must take to create the safest and effective environment to jump-start the recovery process includes:

  • Firmly addressing the issue
  • Being supportive regardless of the situation
  • Not passing judgment
  • Being sure your loved one is truly addicted to a substance
  • Correctly assessing the issue using the examples of warning signs listed above or other signs that your loved one may be using drugs or alcohol
  • Keeping a calm demeanor throughout the initial recovery process


Remaining adamant about the help your loved one needs improves the intervention process and its outcomes. It is also advised that families avoid being discouraging when addressing a loved one who is acting out. When confronting the individual, it’s also important to keep the climate neutral and not come across too aggressively. These steps ultimately will lead to a long-lasting recovery for the addict and long-lasting knowledge of the signs of drug addiction.

Are You Struggling with Addiction?

Addiction is a harsh reality that more families are coming to grips with. It’s not uncommon to feel lost or at wits end dealing with yourself or a family member who is addicted to harmful, deadly substances.

If you’re struggling to find help for your loved one, or you would like to find support for your family as you heal and work through a loved one’s substance abuse, call the Palm Beach Institute at (855) 534-3574 today. Trained medical staff is available 24/7 to offer advice and guidance on the different types of treatment opportunities available to you or your loved one.

5 Ways Drinking Can Ruin a Marriage

When people marry, they form an unbreakable bond and vow to be there for each other for better or for worse.

But what happens when those bonds are tested by alcohol abuse and addiction?

There always are consequences when excessive drinking is in the mix. But when alcohol use disorder has invaded the lives of people who have created what is supposed to be a lasting union, it no longer affects just one person. No part of the relationship goes untouched, whether it is only one person drinking or both. Alcohol use disorder (AUD), a chronic health issue, can cause many problems. Among them are:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Stress

Alcoholism can even bring violence into the home, making it an even more unpredictable and unsafe environment to live in. Spouses of people who abuse alcohol as well as their children and others are affected by what is known as a family disease. What happens in that environment can leave scars that linger for a lifetime. Not only can drinking destroy marriages, but it can destroy families for generations down the line.

One key thing to remember is that people with alcohol use disorder do not live on an island. They are part of a family unit, so everything they go through most likely will be felt by the people in their lives, whether directly or indirectly. In families where children are exposed to problematic alcohol use, statistics show they are at higher risk of developing AUD.

People who have a spouse with a substance abuse issue will find themselves competing with addiction to gain their partner’s attention. Over time, they may blame themselves for their partner’s addiction or “normalize” troubling and hurtful behaviors for the sake of keeping up appearances to the outside world. People coping with a spouse in active addiction also may inadvertently become enablers and do more harm than good while trying to keep the marriage together. The spouse that’s trying to manage and move forward risks experiencing psychological distress and coping in ways that are not mentally or emotionally healthy. Meanwhile, their spouse will stay on a destructive path as the marriage possibly falls apart.

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Here are five key areas that drinking can affect and even ruin a marriage and break up a union that is supposed to last forever.


Lying is common in marriages in which one or both spouses drink alcohol heavily. Being dishonest includes everything from flat-out lying to lies of omission to hiding things with cover-ups. One problem with lying is that it doesn’t stop at one lie. When one lie is told, another one must be told to cover up the first one. Then another lie is told and then another and yet another. Soon, untruths are woven into the fabric of the marriage, which lead to its unraveling and ultimate end if steps aren’t taken to correct the damage and heal from it. Nothing erodes trust faster than lies and deceit.


Alcohol abuse can destroy communication in marriages and be a major factor in why those marriages do not recover from it. Rifts result when either person—whether it’s the one doing the drinking or the one who isn’t—checks out emotionally and stops talking and listening to the other person.

When spouses no longer hear each other, conflicts and misunderstandings tend to build and spill over into all areas of the marriage. In many situations, the manner of communicating is hostile, tense, or possibly nonexistent.

Emotional, Sexual Intimacy

Emotional and sexual intimacy can suffer from a failure to communicate. A healthy sexual relationship also keeps the marriage bond strong. Heavy drinkers may find themselves struggling in this area as they either might be unable to perform or find they don’t desire to because of their alcohol habits.

Alcohol is a depressant, so prolonged drinking can decrease sexual activity as it slows down the body as well as the brain’s ability to sense when sexual stimulation is occurring, according to a Medical Daily article.

“Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not an aphrodisiac and can actually inhibit your ability to attain an erection and orgasm. While it enables people to overcome their sexual inhibitions or anxieties, excessive alcohol also has a negative physiological effect on the penis,” the Medical Daily article says.

The spouse of a person using alcohol excessively might find the person unattractive and undesirable because of the drinking, and the person might avoid their spouse altogether. This, too, leads to a breakdown in the relationship.


Another way drinking can ruin a marriage is when it upsets financial stability. Money woes may come about when a person with a drinking problem can’t hold a job or handle money responsibly. Someone with alcohol use disorder may spend a lot on alcohol and other substances, and that adds up over time.

High-risk financial situations can strain a marriage and bring it to a halt, especially if the financial situation brings about losing the couple’s home or having one or more of their vehicles repossessed. Drinking troubles can also put one in some legal situations that may require paying an attorney, which is expensive and further drain a couple’s financial resources.

Shared Family Responsibilities

People in active addiction often neglect key responsibilities, including keeping a daily routine that involves caring for oneself and others. A lot of time goes into drinking alcohol and doing drugs, including time recovering from excessive substance use. This means household chores go neglected. Slacking off in taking care of shared duties at home can shift the responsibility to a person’s spouse. The person who picks up the slack can grow resentful and angry about having to do so because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior.

Drinking Can Ruin a Marriage and Bring Divorce

Married people who are dealing with alcohol use disorder and its enduring threat to their union have a few choices to make. Either they resolve to address their spouse’s alcohol addiction together and get the help that’s needed, or they commit to keeping things as they are. The latter choice is a sure path to Splitsville for many couples.

In one 2014 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers compared the divorce rates of people with AUD to those of people who do not struggle with AUD. They found that about half of the study’s participants with either past alcohol troubles or current alcohol use disorder were divorced at some point in their lives.

What Happens When Both Spouses Abuse Alcohol?

A 2013 study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that marriage is likely to end in divorce if only one spouse drinks heavily, according to a Medical Daily article. However, what happens to the marriage if both people are heavy drinkers?

According to the study’s findings, those couples are just as likely to stay married as married couples who don’t indulge in alcohol.

“Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple’s drinking habits, rather than the drinking itself, that leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation, and divorce,” said Kenneth Leonard, PhD, RIA director and lead author of the study, in a news release about the study.

“Heavily drinking spouses may be more tolerant of negative experiences related to alcohol due to their own drinking habits,” Leonard said in the news release. But he cautioned that this does not mean that the couples’ drinking habits do not affect other areas of family life. “While two heavy drinkers may not divorce, they may create a particularly bad climate for their children.”
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End Alcohol Abuse Today at Palm Beach Institute

There are many ways drinking can ruin a marriage, but it doesn’t always have to happen. If you or someone you know is going through marital problems caused by alcohol, Palm Beach Institute can help. If you or someone you love would like a free consultation, call the Palm Beach Institute today at 1-855-534-3574. Our specialists can help anyone find the treatments and programs they need to beat a deadly substance abuse problem. Contact us to begin the journey to sobriety as soon as possible.

How to Get a Parent to Quit Drinking

alcoholic parentHow You Can Help a Parent Quit Drinking

According to a report done by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, more than 28 million Americans have seen the effects of alcohol abuse with a parent with more than 78 million Americans, or 43 percent of the adult population, being exposed to alcoholism in the family. Growing up in a family where one or both of the parents are alcoholic can prove to be so painful and emotionally traumatic that many years later the adult child will still be suffering from the scars. Frequently, as children they had to become “superchildren,” responsible for running the family, feeding their parents, while constantly living in fear of their parents.


Characteristics: Are You an Adult Child of an Alcoholic?

Several characteristics of adult children of alcoholics were outlined in 1983 by Dr. Janet Woititz ‘s Adult Children of Alcoholics:

  • Fear of losing control—Adult children of alcoholics maintain control over their behavior and feelings. They also try to control the behavior and feelings of others. They do this because they are afraid, not because they want to hurt themselves or others. Generally, ACOA’s are adept at switching roles, from being the parent to their parent, to trying to keep a happy, healthy demeanor at school. So, the children and adult children wear many hats, or masks.
  • Avoid conflict—Adult children of alcoholics are generally fearful of authority figures and angry people. Also, most ACOA’s do not take personal criticism very well. Often, they misinterpret assertiveness for anger.
  • Denial—When adult children of alcoholics feel threatened, they tend to deny what provokes their fears.
  • Victim Mentality—Adult children of alcoholics may be either passive or aggressive victims and are often attracted to others like them, in friendships, coworkers, and intimate relationships.
  • Attracted to Compulsive Personalities—Many lose themselves in their relationship with others and sometimes find themselves attracted to alcoholics, or to other compulsive personalities— such as workaholics. They are generally attracted to those who are emotionally unavailable. Adult children sometimes like to be the “rescuer” and will form relationships with others who need their help, to the extent of neglecting their own needs. Codependency is a very common trait amongst ACOA’s.

Ways to Help Parents Quit Drinking

For children of parents who abuse alcohol, finding constructive options to help their parents deal with this issue is paramount—the psychological scars stemming from their parents’ alcohol abuse, combined with the strong possibility that the genetic traits for alcoholism may be inherited, result in a very high percentage of alcoholism—25 percent—among children of alcoholics. Even if the child does not become an adult alcoholic, other psychological problems may result, such as obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Some ways that children of parents with alcohol abuse issues can help them quit drinking should include the following:

  1. Understand what alcoholism is—for many who suffer from alcohol abuse, the underlying cause is depression. It is also important to know that the parent is ultimately responsible for their actions.
  2. Communication—if possible, trying talking to the parent when they are sober. Instead of taking a berating tone, try approaching them as the concerned child by bringing to their attention that certain issues have arisen as a result of their drinking. Make it clear their behavior will not be tolerated and encourage discussion about possible alternatives that may be available in regards to dealing with their issues such as adult treatment options.
  3. Avoid arguments—if at all possible, refrain from getting into heated exchanges especially if the parent has been drinking. In addition to the potential for a physical confrontation, the parent may not remember the argument the next day or when they sober up. Avoid nagging overtones.
  4. Don’t Start Drinking Yourself—Children of alcoholics are three to four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves. Remember everything about your parent when drunk that you do not like and keep that in mind if you’re tempted.
  5. Realization—Many alcoholic parents blame their children for their alcoholism. Even without having the finger pointed at you, it may feel like the fault is yours. It isn’t. Your parent is the one who chooses to drink, not you.

These suggestions are among many that can be utilized when dealing with parents who are experiencing alcohol abuse issues. If the parent can admit there is a problem and is seeking help, finding an adult rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addiction is a logical step to pursue. Many of these treatment facilities also offer family programs so the loved ones of those who are struggling can get the support and guidance they need in the process.

Resources and Help for Adult Children of Alcoholics

ACOA—Adult Children of Alcoholics— is the main support group for this demographic. It is a twelve-step based mutual self-help support group similar in structure to AA, NA, and other twelve-step programs. Like AA, ACOA’s foundation is found in AA’s the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Additionally, there are other self-help groups, such as Al-Anon and Alateen. These fellowships serve a common purpose: to “help families of alcoholics” by sharing their “experience, strength and hope … .” (One Day at a Time in Al Anon). By practicing the Steps themselves, members welcome and give “comfort to families of alcoholics” (ODAT). The focus begins with self, especially in the change of attitudes and behaviors toward those who suffer from the disease of alcoholism. The recovery process unfolds gently, helping those affected by addictive behavior to process their history, and examine how their behavior is tied to that history.