Caregiver's Role in Helping Addicts

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Caregiver's Role in Helping Addicts

What is addiction?   

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking, or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.

Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol, and smoking, but it's possible to be addicted to just about anything, including:

  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Internet


Over the years, the focus of mental health care has shifted from institutionalization to community-based programs and shorter hospital treatment. This change means there is an increased role of caregivers, mostly family members, in treating people with mental illness.

Mostly in cases of addiction, caregivers for addicts take the form of family members. The role of family in addiction recovery is both significant and broad. For many in recovery, family support is critical to achieving and maintaining sobriety.

Family caregivers contribute to treatment engagement and adherence, reducing substance abuse and relapse and increasing the well-being of the person with an addiction disorder. However, caregiving is also associated with adverse emotional and physical health outcomes for caregivers.

A caregiver's role in such cases may take the form of -

  • Administering medications.
  • Cooking meals
  • Handling doctor's appointments
  • Being the support for them


They must build resilience, empathy, and understanding for the person suffering from addiction. Apart from these traits, caregivers should:

Listen To them:    

Even when you disagree with the person, take the time to listen to what they have to say without trying to argue or contradict them. The more your loved one feels heard, the more they'll see you as supportive, someone they can confide in.

Be prepared for denial:    

Your loved one may become defensive or angry and refuse to discuss their drug use. Many people feel a sense of shame when confronted by their behavior and will try to deny they have a problem. Don't argue with them. Just revisit the issue another time.

Avoid trying to lecture, threaten, bribe, or punish them:   

Getting angry or making emotional appeals will likely only add to the user's guilt and reinforce their compulsion to use.

Help plan for triggers and cravings:   

Your loved one will need to find ways to cope with drug cravings and triggers. You can help distract them with other activities or encourage them to learn how to ride out the urge, but ultimately, they have to be responsible for their sobriety.

Encourage them to explore new interests:   

Quitting drugs can leave your loved one with a lot of extra time to fill. To help them avoid slipping back into old habits, encourage them to develop new interests—ones that don't involve drugs but do add meaning to their life. Think volunteering, taking up a new sport or hobby, enrolling in a class, or spending time in nature hiking or camping, for example—anything that doesn't generate a trigger to use.

Accept the likelihood of relapse:   

Despite your efforts and your loved one's best intentions, the truth is that recovery often involves relapse. If that happens, encourage the person to recommit to getting clean and support them as they try again. Try to stay patient. Each regression is an opportunity for your loved one to learn from their mistakes and find a new way forward.

Don’t forget to look for yourself:   

Taking care of oneself is essential so caregivers can care for others. It may be about having social lives, having time for themselves, and finding support.

Manage stress:   

The stress of witnessing someone you love battle addiction can take a heavy toll. You can reduce your stress levels by eating right, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.

You can also Read : First Step Toward Addiction recovery: Acknowledgment


No one can imagine the pain and hard work that caregivers go through when caring for a person suffering from addiction; hence, respect should be given to them, and they should always be given support to take care of themselves, too. It is, therefore, important to be mindful of the essential roles caregivers have in the lives of addicts.

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