5 Steps To Help A Loved One Suffering From Drug Or Alcohol Addiction

As a diversity consultant, I have recently written several blogs connecting the current COVID-19 pandemic to diversity, and about the recent events in our country. Unfortunately, this disruption to our economy and the social isolation can lead to an increase in drug or alcohol addiction. Please read and share this useful resource on the 5 steps to help a loved one with this issue.


Dealing with an alcohol or drug addiction can be difficult. And for people who know of a loved one suffering from substance abuse, it may be just as difficult to know the right ways to deal with the situation. Hesitation, fear, and reluctance — these are just some emotions one may go through when attempting to encourage others to seek professional and medical help regarding their condition.

If you find yourself in these shoes and clueless on what to do, here are some ways you can try to approach the situation first. And if you need rehab options, check out http://recoveryfirst.org/drug-rehab-hollywood-fl/ for all the available treatment plans.

Step 1: Learn about addiction and treatment options.

It is not easy to confront loved ones, especially if you are not knowledgeable on the topic of addiction and its treatment options. Learning and understanding what it means, the factors that result in the condition, and what kind of side effects addiction may have on an individual can be useful when approaching the problem. It also helps us to be practice more empathy as addiction can influence the way one thinks and responds to situations.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a useful website to research on causes of addiction and how it functions in an individual. It can teach you different ways addiction develops and what kinds of treatment options most effective in aiding recovery. Researching NIDA will help one understand why seeking treatment is so important when it comes to battling addiction.

It is also useful to research the drug or types of drugs being abused by a loved one as different substances have different influences and side effects on an individual. This can help you understand why they respond or behave in certain ways — especially if it’s uncharacteristic of their usual demeanor. Knowing this can also prepare one’s responses during the confrontation.

Understanding the reasons why people consume drugs is only important as there could be other underlying medical conditions present. One may choose to abuse drugs or alcohol due to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety and in such cases, one’s withdrawal treatment may have to be tweaked to accommodate for such these as well.

Being informed on what kind of treatment options is also important in understanding addiction as this can differ from person to person. Information on medical treatment can usually be found at local health and human services facilities. Depending on the extent of their substance abuse, their probability of relapsing and general health, one form of treatment may be better than the other. It is also worthy to note that the readiness level of the loved one is also a big factor when it comes to being treated. Treatment can be found in the form of inpatient and outpatient care, as well as aftercare and therapy. Some people may also be more open to alternative forms of treatment.

Step 2: Make a plan.

If the act of confronting a loved one seems daunting, it helps to make a detailed plan after learning and researching about addiction. You can choose to gather a group of friends or family to help with the intervention, or even hire a specialist. It is important to prepare for potential objections as well as difficult situations that might arise; having your friends and family conduct their own research about addiction can be useful as well. If you do decide to seek professional help, the Association of Intervention Specialists serves as a platform to find trained professionals to plan the confrontation. Above all, it is always important to express the intent of care and concern and let the loved one know that you have their best interests’ at heart.

Step 3: Learn to control your emotions.

Intervening an addiction can prove to be an emotional task, not only on you but also on the victim. This is because underlying the confrontation may be harbored feelings such as worry, anger, fear — which can bring about conflict if allowed to be expressed carelessly. This can result in the victim becoming closed off about trying treatment or even listening to what you have to say. However, this is not to say that these feelings are wrong because they are normal and justified opinions, especially if the addiction has negatively affected friendships and relationships. It is important to inform the loved one of the impacts of their behavior without pointing fingers. Let them know that you are saying this out of concern with their best interests’ at heart. Self-realization is one of the strongest motivators for loved ones to start on their recovery journey.

Step 4: Learn to practice empathy.

It can be hard to empathize with someone suffering from an addiction if you have never been through one before. And with all that we hear from the media and opinions of society, it is easy to form a personal judgment about the issue. However, when helping a loved one, this judgment is something we want to avoid as much as possible as it can aggravate and worsen their struggles. Judgment can cause loved ones to feel defensive and closed off, but asking questions and genuinely trying to understand their situation can go a long way. Even if you disagree with their decisions, it is important to let them know that you are on their side and am someone they can trust. Providing support may encourage them to listen, open up about their problems, and eventually seek treatment.

Step 5: The quicker the admission to treatment, the better.

There is evidence to show that the quicker one gets admitted to treatment the moment they are ready, the more effective and positive the outcome of the treatment. Hence, it is important to prepare opportunities for treatment even before the confrontation has begun. While researching addiction and treatment options, searching for treatment facilities can also be a worthwhile search. It can also be useful to consult these professionals when seeking advice on a loved one as they can help to determine the type and degree of care that they might need. A plan can also be formulated for their immediate entry into the treatment process as soon as they are ready.


While helping a loved one, it is also important not to neglect your own physical and mental health. If you are struggling to practice self-care or feel drained emotionally with the situation, do seek professional help from organizations or support groups available as they can also help you to identify and process your own emotions. Other forms of help may also be available at local treatment centers.

Introducing Gracie Gold – the Ultimate “Get Up” Story

Coach Gracie Gold and I are all smiles as I exit the ice with my props after my Light Entertainment Program

There are several other links toward the end of this blog with other inspiring figure skating stories, please do explore them.

Though I am diversity and career development consultant and trainer, many of my blog readers and clients know of my love of figure skating and my story of starting my own figure skating career at age 59. Several of them have encouraged me to even add a figure skating page on my website and enjoy hearing about my own skating journey.

In a recent “virtual breakfast” meeting with one of my favorite peers (Carolyn Naseer – read about her own innovate business – link to blog) that we did via Zoom instead of in person due to the CoronaVirus, I told her about my recent East Coast Adult Figure Skating Sectionals and being able to secure 2-time US Figure Skating Champion Gracie Gold as my coach. After sharing some photos online and telling her a little about Gracie’s journey, Carolyn she encouraged me to write this blog.

Gracie Gold’s help was instrumental in me winning my first East Coast Championships gold medal.

Gracie Gold is such a positive coach with excellent technical skills and an encouraging demeanor who helped me win my first Eastern Sectionals gold medal. My favorite photo (at the top of this blog) from Eastern Sectionals was a candid shot showing the pure joy on both our faces after I was getting off the ice with all my props following my Light Entertainment program.

What makes Gracie Gold so special? In figure skating circles, most people are familiar with Gracie’s story. After winning two US figure skating titles and attending the Olympics, her life took a difficult turn. Two and a half years ago and reeling from multiple traumatic events on and off the ice, including gaining 40 pounds, Gracie, then 22, entered a 45-day program at the Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona, to address an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

There are multiple stories that you can google and find about the details of Gracie’s struggles (here is one from The Guardian)

And then Gracie did the nearly impossible. At the highest levels of figure skating, people simply do not come back to compete after being off the ice so long and getting older in “figure skating years.” It just does not happen. But Gracie, filled with her love of figure skating showed tremendous grit and determination to start over again, and she worked her way up for the bottom, including having to compete at two smaller regional events to even qualify to compete at US Nationals.

Gracie finished 12th. Let’s put this in perspective; Gracie came back to become the 12th best female skater in the entire United States! When Gracie won her gold medals at past US Championships, people stood and applauded because they loved her skating. This year at Nationals, Gracie received tremendous standing ovations because they loved Gracie. In one of Gracie’s favorite photos published by US Figure Skating as she kneels on the ice at the conclusion of her program; if you look closely, you can see me there in the first row middle of the photo standing and applauding next to my mother seated in the white jacket.

One of US Figure Skating’s signature themes is “We Get Up,” that skating, like life, is difficult. But when you fall on the hard ice, just as you fall in life, you need to pick yourself up and move on. Gracie is indeed the ultimate “get up story.” And I count myself blessed to have met and worked with this outstanding young woman.

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Eric Sjoberg is still excelling! With his mother in the stands at 2020 Nationals. At the junior level, Eric climbed from sixth place after the short program to win second after his nearly perfect long program.

Here is another inspiring short story of a skater, Lessons in Character from a Young Teen, about Eric Sjoberg, who overcame challenges with determination instead of quitting when things got really tough.

Two years ago, I wrote a series of “Get Up” blogs which included people getting up from challenges both on and off the ice.

Author Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz has written a series of books about figure skaters young and old who overcame various difficulties. Here is my blog about Joanne and her books.

And finally, my own get up story.

Thanks for reading!