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A significant impact on loved ones

Addiction can have very real consequences on the person who uses, but it can also have consequences on the people around him/her. Indeed, a loved one may feel great pain when seeing the person they love:

  • withdraw into himself/herself,
  • have financial problems,
  • neglect his/her family or even his/her parental responsibility,
  • behave aggressively while under the influence of a substance, or while in withdrawal from that substance,
  • try to hide his/her drinking or gambling behaviours,
  • engage in risky behaviours (e.g., driving while impaired),
  • develop health problems, both physical and/or mental.

The more time passes, the more significant these repercussions can be, to the point of sometimes destroying the relationship between the addicted person and those around him/her, whether it is the family unit, a friendship, or any other relationship.

Helping your loved one, without complacency

Whether you are a spouse, a parent, or a friend, it is never easy to help a loved one who is addicted. In some cases, the help that we believe we should give to our loved one may even have the opposite effect and encourage him/her to remain addicted. Indeed, you may want to do the right thing, for example by trying to:

  • minimize his/her problem or try to excuse it,
  • hide the problem from others,
  • help them financially, by paying off their debts and lending them money.

These different reactions, even in good faith, can contribute to the person’s continued use of drugs or gambling because:

  • making excuses for him/her to a spouse, an employer, a friend, gives him/her a clear conscience and falsifies the image that others have of him/her,
  • trying to hide the problem from others is preventing the person from facing reality,
  • supporting him/her financially, for example by paying his/her rent, is financing his/her substance abuse or gambling problem.

For this reason, many people who try to help their loved one may feel guilt, a sense of failure or even helplessness in the face of the problem.

However, it is possible to help, to act, as long as you are equipped to do so. That is why it is important not to remain isolated and to ask for help, not only for your loved one, but also for yourself.

Finding help

At Drugs: Help and Referral, our counsellors regularly help the loved ones of people who are addicted. In fact, 24% of the calls we receive come from relatives of addicts and this figure is constantly increasing.

We can help you to:

  • determine your “power zone” in the relationship,
  • develop techniques to help make the loved one aware without encouraging his/her addictive behaviors,
  • re-establish healthy communication with the loved one,
  • identify possible solutions to the problem.

Finally, we will be able to refer you to a programme best suited to your situation and that of your loved one. For example, Addiction Rehabilitation Centers typically offer support and coaching programmes designed specifically for the loved ones of people with addictions.

Call us at 1 800 265-2626 or use the chat at the bottom right of our site. Our services are available 24 /7 and are anonymous, confidential, bilingual, and free.


Sources : Vivre avec un proche ayant une dépendance, Chantal Plourde et Myriam Laventure, 2019 / Association québécoise des parents et amis de la personne atteinte de maladie mentale (AQPAPMM) / Association des intervenants en dépendance du Québec (AIDQ) / La semaine santé