Coming Clean to Family About Your Addiction

So it’s come to a point where you’ve come to terms with the fact that you have a substance abuse issue. You’ve realized you’ve lost sight of yourself, your relationships, and the things that were once most important to you. There’s a good chance you’ve been denying your addiction to yourself and your loved ones for a while now, and finally, you’re ready, to be honest, and come clean. Telling your friends and family can be scary-thoughts of judgment, abandonment, and rejection all rush into your mind. More times than not, what you fear they will have in you is really what you hate about yourself. Chances are your family and friends want you to be happy and healthy, and coming clean about your addiction will give them the opportunity to help you find sobriety and the peace that comes with it. Let your guard down and tell your loved ones what’s really going on-they will appreciate the honesty and you will be grateful for the support system.

If your friends and family don’t have a whole lot of experience in the addiction realm, it can be hard figuring out what to say to them, and how to make them understand what you’re going through. If you’re ready to kick substance abuse out of the picture and need help opening up to your family-follow these guidelines to make the process smoother.

Be Honest with Yourself First

Before you tell your friends and family about your addiction, make sure you yourself understand what it is exactly what you’re going through. Even if you’ve accepted the fact that you have a problem, have you been honest with how serious the issue is? Have you tried to make sense of where your life has gone since you started using? Do you know what steps you want to take to get sober? It’s going to be hard for a family to understand what’s happening in your life if you can’t tell them. It’s not going to be enough to say, “I am addicted to drugs”. They’re going to worry, and probably ask a million questions. If you go into the conversation prepared, you’ll be less likely to get caught off guard which can lead to frustration and unnecessary outbursts. If you’re not too sure how to

Take advantage of the plentitude of resources that are available.

understand your own situation, try meditating on it for a while. There are tons of meditation methods and tips which you can find here.Take the time to fully understand yourself before you try explaining it to others- you’ll go into the conversation with a calm and clear mind, making the conversation easy and beneficial to both you and your family.

Prepare For Any Reaction

In an ideal world, telling your family will result in them 100% supporting you, loving you, and only wanting the best for you. They would accept your situation and try to help move you forward. It’s possible they could have this reaction, but it’s not promised. They haven’t had the time to process the information, and if you’ve been secretive enough, they might be caught completely off guard. Some pretty common reactions to the news of a drug addiction can be anger, sadness, denial, avoidance, and disappointment. It won’t be hard to deal with these reactions if you prepare yourself and try to see where they are coming from. Think about what you could say in response to these reactions to help ease the situation. Here are some things you could say if you get a negative initial reaction from your family:

  • I understand this is difficult to process, and I want you to be honest with how you feel and talk about with me.
  • I’m telling you this because I love you and think you deserve honesty and would like you to be part of my support system while I get treatment
  • It’s not your fault, and I want you to support me while I take responsibility for the mistakes I’ve made in the past.

Once you tell your family what’s been going on in your life, it can help to direct them to some resources that could give them information on how best to support you. Your life is going to change once you seek treatment, and keeping them informed on how best to support you will make both you and your family more confident in the process. Literature is a great resource for understanding addiction, blog posts can be a good tool when you’re having a hard time using your own words. No matter the reaction you get, make a point to tell your family you are doing your best to help them understand your addiction and move forward towards sobriety.

Choose Wisely

Keep in mind that you don’t have to tell everyone! Especially not at once. It might be a good idea to pick just a couple people who you trust and think will understand you first. This achieves a couple of things: lowers stress levels of telling a large group, lowers chances of having a bad reaction, and gives you some experience before telling the rest of your family and friends. While telling a large group can be scary and intimidating, telling just one or a few people first can actually be a therapeutic experience. Once you and the initial members are on the same page, you might even want to have them with you when you tell the rest of your family for extra support. Sometimes families have an easier time accepting situations when they observe others already in full support. This will make you feel less singled out, and put your family’s worries slightly at ease.

Share Your Action Plan

This isn’t always possible, as sometimes you want to tell your family before you have any idea on how to seek treatment. Or maybe you’re waiting for them to know so they can help guide you through the process. Either way, it’s a good idea to have some options open that you could relay to them after you open up about your addiction. If you’re unsure of your options, do some research. Check out treatment options and share with your family which ones interest you the most. This will show them that you’re serious about getting help, and allow them to get involved in the process. Having a plan shows your commitment to sobriety and will make your loved ones more confident in your recovery.

The Next Steps

Maybe your family didn’t react the way you anticipated and aren’t in full support of your recovery. Does this give you an excuse to return to using? Absolutely not. Hopefully, when you opened up to your family, they were in full support of your recovery. Either way, you need to now find a recovery program recovery program and your journey to sober living. There are many places that offer a wide array of treatment programs designed to suit every individual and their personalized needs.

3 thoughts on “Coming Clean to Family About Your Addiction

  1. Family members and friends can be pointed in the direction of Nar-anon, as a 12 step program for those affected by another’s drug addiction. (or Al-anon if its alcohol). Nar-anon takes the spotlight off the addict and onto themselves. So giving the addict time and space to focus on their own recovery if that is where they are at, or if the addict hasnt reached that point yet can help family and friends not to be so obsessed with what their addicted loved one is doing.


  2. Great post. I’m still in the “who to tell” phase. I’ve shared about my alcoholism with my husband and 3 best friends. I hid it so well and kept up such a great appearance that they are having difficulty understanding the severity of it all. My husband just just doesn’t see it and doesn’t understand why I go to several meeting a week but is supporting me. Hoping to get him to an al-anon meeting. He has that “AA stigma” in his head and I don’t fit that category. Baby steps, I guess.


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