How to Handle a Loved One, Their Addiction and Their Defiance?

Deciding when to encourage getting help for a loved one is hard. It takes them recognizing that there is a problem, and then it takes the vulnerability and willingness to open up to loved ones for the encouragement and motivation to pursue. You might worry, “What if they refuse and begin distancing themselves from you?” Sometimes hearing about the gravity of their addiction and how it affects you and others can be surprising.

Likewise, perhaps you have been giving them this impression by avoiding confronting them about their growing addiction. However, when you recognize that a loved one needs help for a mental or addiction disorder, you need to admit that their problems have gone on too long and it is time to get them help.

Know Your Role

Ultimately, understanding what your role has been during their growing addiction is the start to getting you on the right track to helping them. Ask yourself: Are you providing them a place to live while they abuse drugs or alcohol? Do you give the money? Do you find yourself covering for them when they neglect responsibilities, making excuses to yourself and others as to why they failed to do their part? If so, you have been an enabler.

Discontinuing these habits, giving them money for groceries, making excuses for them, and following through on consequences when they do not do their part will help to re-establish your relationship and create boundaries. You do not need to become a tyrant; the goal is to help to empower them by motivating them to want to get involved in activities and help themselves.

Educate Yourself

Sometimes barriers form between a loved one suffering from a disorder and a loved one trying to get them help because the person suffering believes that you do not understand them. However, you love this person and know that you would go to great lengths to help them. Start by educating yourself on the various forms of addiction and disorders. It will not only bring you closer to what your loved one might be dealing with but also help you recognize signs and symptoms of withdrawal—therefore helping you to prevent something terrible from happening.

Educating yourself will also help validate your stance in an intervention. However, without any understanding, it is hard from a third party perspective to motivate somebody who is suffering. Do the research, consult with professionals–whatever you need to do to better understand what your loved one is experiencing.

Consult a Professional

You might get your loved one to listen by informing their doctor or therapist before their next appointment to clue them in that you suspect an underlying addiction. Express your concerns about why and let the doctor or therapist know that they need help. A doctor or therapist can then recommend courses of action for your loved one.

This has also been effective in helping because sometimes all your loved one needs are the opinions of a professional or even someone outside of the family circle. Hearing that they could benefit from seeking help from a medical professional can be eye-opening and enough for them to consider treatment.

Offer Support

One of the easiest practices, and sometimes the hardest to uphold—especially among family members who might at times grow tired of the constant contention—is practicing and offering support. Getting a loved one to seek treatment should come from a place of wanting them to do this for them and not to misinterpret it as thinking you’re forcing them to get help. Support, even in the most subtle way, like saying “I am here to listen,” can help diffuse any hostility or anger that they might have if you confront it directly.

Sometimes your loved one isn’t looking for advice—they want to be heard. Offering advice might appear to them as you being judgmental or that you have some understanding of how they are feeling. Sometimes asking “What do you think you should do?” is a great way to express to your loved one that you believe in them and value what they think.


Never use guilt to motivate anybody. Guilt will only make them feel worse. You want to maintain positivity by not looking at what could happen if they keep going the way they are, but by what will happen after they seek help. Let them know that this is something for you to grow and learn from, too. It is about you and your relationship with your loved one–that you are willing to take the necessary steps to be less of an enabler and more present and proactive for them. You ultimately want them to do this for them, but let them know that you are with them for every step to motivate them, hold them accountable, and grow and change for the better, too.


If your loved one is still resisting, this is when you need to be the most honest with yourself. Take a look at the past month or whenever you started to enact changes–becoming less of an enabler, showing support—to build a stronger foundation for trust and a better relationship and ask yourself: Do I see any progress? If I continue, can I get my loved one to want to seek treatment? If the answer is yes–you see a significant change in the relationship and your loved one’s well being–then you might be on the verge of a breakthrough in motivating your loved one toward getting help.

If the answer is no, then it is time for an intervention. You have educated yourself on the matter, you have taken the necessary steps toward realizing your role in this, and you have expressed to your loved one that your actions come from a place of love and support—now it is time to take the risk and get your loved one help. Find a counselor or therapist who can mediate the intervention. A mediator will help prevent emotions from becoming negative or overwhelming and allow all parties present to speak rationally and calmly.

Ultimately, addiction recovery comes down to your loved one wanting to get help. You cannot force anybody to get help. However, you can show your concern and support, and hopefully, your loved one will come around. However hard, understand that protecting yourself and your well-being matters too. The defiance of your loved one is not about you or your fault—it is about overcoming their mental duress and fears to embrace the idea of getting help. Keep encouraging them, keep supporting them. If you find that their addiction has interfered with your well-being, then it is time for you to seek professional help.

True Recovery offers 24/7 care that will provide you with guidance and assistance. True Recovery is founded on alternative treatment in which everybody benefits from different forms of treatment to meet their needs and they also understand the critical role that family members have when someone suffering needs treatment. Don’t wait, call us today at (866) 399-6528.