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.