When a Loved One Has a Drug Addiction

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

 When a Loved One Has a Drug AddictionWhen they first told us that a good friend of ours was drinking too much, we didn’t believe them.

Sure, he drinks, we thought, but I doubt it’s really all that bad. After all, he’s a really great guy. Smart, kind, a Christian… he has a lot going for him! Definitely not the kind of guy you picture when you think of an alcoholic.

And yet, they were right. He was drinking too much–way too much–and it wasn’t long before it caught up to him.

He lost his job, his friends… and while I believe he’s sober now (we’ve grown apart), I can pretty much guarantee that his life now is not what it would have been if he hadn’t picked up that bottle.


The truth is, “addiction” — whether that’s to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, gambling or whatever else — doesn’t always look the way we think it should. It isn’t limited to “those people.” You know, the non-Christians, the people who don’t have a lot going for them…

Because while research does show that Christians are less likely to abuse drugs, that doesn’t mean that Christians aren’t using them at all.

With 12% of Americans ages 12 and older struggling with addictions, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and another 24% at risk, there’s a good chance someone you know — perhaps even someone in your family — is currently addicted or dangerously close. 


So how should you, as a Christian, respond when a loved one has a drug addiction? Here are your five steps.


1. Pray, but Don’t Stop There


As always, the first thing you should do whenever you are facing a challenging situation is to take it to God.

Pray that the devil would not be able to establish a foothold in your loved one’s life. That his or her eyes would be opened to the severity of the situation and what it is costing him/her. That you would have the courage to speak up when needed and the strength to be quiet when needed. That God would ultimately use the situation for HIS good and HIS glory.

But don’t stop there. 


Yes, prayer is powerful and yes, God answers prayer. But sometimes the way He answers prayers is through the wisdom of the doctor, the warning of a good friend, the assistance of a much-needed medication or the reassuring connection with a trusted sponsor.

Sometimes, God wants to do big things, but He wants us to take action to help put His plan into motion too. 


2. Don’t Wait Until People are “Better” to Love on Them


When a loved one is caught up in drug addiction, it’s all too easy to distance ourselves. After all, “good Christians don’t do those types of things,” we think, and we wouldn’t want to be negatively influenced.

And yet, what did Jesus do? He loved people right where they are.

Take the 12 disciples for instance. An extortionist, an extremist, a traitor… I love the colorful descriptions given in Relevant Magazine’s article Being a Christian Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think it Should. And did Jesus avoid these men, lest they tarnish his good reputation or negatively influence him in some way? Did he say, “Sure, I’d love to use you, but you have to go work on yourself first.”

No! He made them leaders of the church!


Suffering from a drug addiction is hard enough — suffering as a Christian is even worse at times, due to the extra guilt, doubt and seeming abandonment.

When people are truly struggling isn’t the time to say “Well, bye. Good luck to you!” It’s the time to lean in and love on them even more — struggles and all.


3. Remember that You Have Your Faults Too


After all, it’s not like you don’t have your own faults too…

Sure, maybe it’s not drug or alcohol abuse. But what about gluttony, gossip, or unforgiveness? Not to mention that every time you fail at Putting God First, that’s pretty much idol worship of whatever you’re prioritizing instead.



Yes, as Christians, we should judge. We should stand up and say “This is wrong. It is hurting you. You need to stop.”

But it absolutely has to be done out of a place of love and humility, recognizing that we’re all sinners in need of grace, just trying to do the best we can.


4. Encourage Them to Get Help


The first time you turn to drugs instead of God, it’s a sin. The second time, and the third time… But eventually there reaches a point when it’s not just about self-control any more.

People who are severely addicted to drugs don’t do them because they like to or because they enjoy hurting their families. They do them because addictive drugs actually alter the brain’s physical chemistry, even after the person stops using them.


When someone has diabetes, you don’t tell them, “Well, if you only believed in God enough…” When someone has cancer, you don’t say, “Well, maybe you should just prayer harder” or “Then maybe you aren’t really a Christian after all.”

No! You get them the help they need. Whether that’s medicine, therapy, rehab or whatever else.


Yes, your loved one might be resistant to getting help. No, they might not listen, and it’s not like you can exactly force them (at least, not all of the time). But the least you can do is try.


5. Realize That It’s Going to Be a Process


Of course, even if you do succeed in getting your loved ones help for a drug addiction, it’s important to realize that the journey doesn’t end there. Recovering from a drug addiction is definitely NOT an overnight process.

There will be victories, but there will also be defeats. Time when you feel incredibly hopeful, and times when you feel almost hopeless.

But that’s okay, because God is bigger than it all and He still has a planeven when you don’t know what it is yet. Pray, talk to a professional and most important, hang in there. God’s not through with the situation yet.


Have you ever been personally affected by a loved one’s addictions or struggled with an addiction yourself? What helped you get through it?

Join the Discussion

Comment policy: All opinions are welcome here and friendly, edifying debates are encouraged. However, comments that are rude, hateful, malicious, or spammy will be immediately deleted without warning. Your email address will not be shared publicly. 

  1. Hi Brittany! I am so very glad that you wrote a post on this topic. I am a married man in my mid-40s, and I have been an alcoholic since my late teens. However, it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that a friend, whom I deeply respect, held a mirror up to me after one of my drunken “episodes” and asked me if I really liked what I saw. The fact was, I hated it, and while self-loathing was a big reason I sought solace in booze in the first place, I knew I had to stop.

    I’m almost 10 years clean and sober without a single slip since the day I decided to quit. There was/is no way I could ever apologize sufficiently, or take back the hurt I caused my wife during the first 11 years of our marriage. The only thing I had going for me was that I was never a violent drunk. But as the saying goes, “The best apology is changed behavior”. So I changed myself. Radically, as the alcohol had been such an integral part of my life – of who I was as a person – for so long.

    The 5th step you mention above resonates very loudly with me. When I quit drinking 10 years ago, I half expected everything to get better overnight. After all, I was giving up something of immense pleasure and my only effective tool for coping with life’s stresses. I ought to have gotten something in return, right? Wrong. I have stayed sober for nearly 10 years without a single slip. I’m proud of that, and it feels like a big enough accomplishment that I’ll never throw it away for the taste of alcohol again. But I have found out I may have done irreparable damage to my marriage in the years I was drinking. Sex between us has been dead this entire time. She never once encouraged me or praised my efforts (something I needed desperately). Our first child was an infant when I was still drinking and our second was born after I quit. Nevertheless, my wife took the kids and moved into a finished guest room in the basement for years. She wouldn’t let me help raising them. I was banned from feeding them, changing diapers, getting them back to sleep when they woke up in the middle of the night. She actively undermined my credibility and authority as a father. There were other things she did, but never once did she mention that I had driven the Alcohol Demon from our home. Life, from my perspective, feels worse today than it did before I stopped. I hate saying that, but that’s the truth.

    So, if any of your readers have spouses with alcohol addiction, I would encourage them to support their efforts if they have acknowledged they have a problem and are really trying to quit. SOBRIETY DOESN’T HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT. And things will only improve gradually. The alcohol may go, but the addictive tendencies are still there, and there will be an urge to replace the alcohol with something else. That “something else” could be healthy, like running marathons, or unhealthy, like pornography.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog. Even though I’m a guy, I regularly read your posts. And thanks, also, for allowing me to speak!

    Best regards!

    1. Wow. What a story! I’m so glad that your friend was willing to speak truth to you and that you were willing to listen. That’s really quite an accomplishment!

      Have you also taken the time to really apologize to your wife and tried to earn back her trust? It will be a slow process, I’m sure, but there is always hope for a restored marriage! Have you ever seen the movie “Fireproof?” Your story reminds me of that. (It’s not about alcoholism, but a man going above and beyond to win back his wife’s affections after he’s let her down.)

  2. Very Good Read…That being said Not Giving Up on my Spouse was not optional in my situation so for me I don’t agree you must hang in there. My Child and I got No attention from him, plus he almost died right in front of her, that to me changed the game plan and yes I did get him help but I can’t take care of his responsibilities for him and he saw the need to make No Efforts to do so. When he started affecting us in such a negative way and was in complete denial sorry but it was time to get out of this situation, so hanging on is not Always a wise option especially 6yrs of it. TY

    1. Oh yes, sorry if I wasn’t clear. I definitely don’t think staying in that situation is always the wise choice. There are definitely times when you want to get out while you can. By “hang in there,” I just meant — keep trusting God (no matter where you are living physically). He still has a plan, even if you don’t see it at the time.

  3. Yes ~ I’m praying for my love one all right. After all, he was my old flame and by some miraculous fate, we were able to somehow reconnect through a close friend. Only problem is his substance abuse aren’t the only issues he face. His wife unfortunately is in the same rehab stint as he is (but in different departments of the facility) and both of them exhibit the same co-dependency characteristics in their relationship. The other issue is his spouse is also a practitioner of the black arts and magic (e.g. witchcraft). For the past 20+ years of their marriage, I wondered how she managed to keep him marriage-bound but stand by and watch his life slip out of control and not have done anything to offer the support a true marriage partner should.

  4. Hi my sister is into drugs and drinking and has separated from an abusive husband. Her children need her but she isn’t there for them. We have asked her to get help and she doesn’t want to. What should we do to help the children at least. They are 11 and 16.

  5. I recently found out my close family member is abusing both drug and alcohol. It’s eating me up because I really don’t know what to do. I have tried to talk to him he avoids every form of conversation not to mention speaking about it. The day I discovered he refused to say anything and till today has refused to have a conversation about it.
    I have being praying but I am just wondering what else I can do aside praying. He is getting worse by the day. He is not open to have any conversation at all. Just Hi and Hello is all he manages to say and that’s all. How can I get through to him. It’s really eating me up watching him this way

    1. That has to be so incredibly hard. Hopefully, this blog post helped answer your questions. There is also some great advice in the comments. Don’t give up hope!

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