How to Tell Your Family You’re Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

It’s not easy to face the possibility you have a problem with drugs or alcohol. When you do finally accept that you need help, you may face a new challenge: telling your friends and family. How do you tell the people who care about you that you have a problem with addiction? What will they think?

Don’t get hung up on words. However you understand your problem is how you should explain it to your friends and family. Many people recoil at the thought of being labeled an ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’. You don’t have to accept that label or present yourself that way to others. You can simply say something like ‘I’ve been drinking too much and I’ve tried to stop but I can’t’. There’s no need for a dramatic reveal.

Keep in mind, they probably know already. People struggling with addiction are often secretive about their behaviour. They’ll lie about how much they’re drinking or using. Sometimes they just stay off the radar while they’re using. They often imagine they have succeeded in deceiving the people in their lives, who don’t suspect anything at all.

In reality, it’s unlikely no one has noticed, especially those closest to you. They may not know the full extent of your problem, but they probably suspect there is something wrong. They may have noticed a change in your behaviour, heard rumors, wondered why you left a perfectly good job, or noticed your frequent absences. It’s hard to hide an addiction completely. They may be relieved you’re admitting your problem and seeking help.

Be honest, but don’t blame. It’s possible that you blame some people in your family for your addiction and it’s even possible they deserve it. However, placing blame shouldn’t be your priority. Your priority is to come clean with them and take responsibility for your recovery. Let them know what’s been going on but don’t point fingers. It’s a lot to absorb without facing accusations as well. Also, you’ll want their support during recovery, so it’s no time for burning bridges.

Be ready to seek treatment. There’s not much point in telling people you have a problem if you don’t intend to do anything about it. Having at least a tentative plan for treatment shows you take the situation seriously. The sooner you get into treatment, the better off you’ll be. Ask for their help finding treatment if you need to, and follow through, even if you’re a bit scared.

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