Building Ladders from Rock Bottom

Tips for family members of substance users

Admitting that a loved one has a substance use issue can be a huge challenge for family and friends. Equally challenging is navigating an ongoing relationship with a loved one who is struggling. Of course, we all want the best for our loved ones. But we can’t foster a better future for them if we neglect our own needs. We need to be strong enough to support our loved ones during the most difficult times in their lives.

Families Strong WV is an 8-week program that provides resources and tools for those who love someone with a substance use problem. Today we’re sharing a few tips for family members of substance users, tips which you can use as you assist loved ones on the road to recovery.

TIP: Learn and Practice Positive Communication

When someone is doing something that can be deemed damaging to their health, it’s so easy to start communicating in a negative or aggressive manner. While we know it can feel almost impossible at times, it’s important to learn and practice positive communication. This includes keeping all channels of communication open to the best of your ability so that your loved one knows someone is there for them when they need it. Positive communication means checking in and reinforcing good behaviors as they progress through their recovery.

Take a look at “10 Tips for Positive Communication You Can Apply Today” for more information.

TIP: Learn How to Set Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are critical when it comes to supporting a family member with a substance use issue. By learning how to set boundaries, you’ll still be able to enjoy your life to the best of your ability.

You should never blame yourself for someone else’s actions. Doing so doesn’t help you or your loved one. And it’s why we all need to learn how and when to set healthy boundaries and to create some distance between yourself and your loved ones.

Take some time to think about what you do and don’t find acceptable from your family member. From there, stay firm and strong when they try to push you further than you are willing to accept. This is important for maintaining some form of balance and control over your life.

Take a look at “How to Set Healthy Boundaries” for more information.

TIP: Practice Self-Care

All of us can benefit from taking more time out for self-care, and perhaps no one needs this more than those with family members who have substance use issues. Self-care is unique to each one of us, these simple rules might be helpful for you:

  • Retreat—know when you need to take a break. This requires practicing self-awareness of when you are too stressed. So if you find yourself clenching your teeth, tightening your neck muscles, getting a migraine, etc., let these nuisances be a reminder to practice self-care.
  • Relax and Refocus—whatever helps you to relax and refocus—whether it’s a nap, a quiet cup of coffee in a coffee shop, a short walk, dinner out with friends, or even gardening—make it a priority and regular practice so these activities will be available to you at times of heightened stress.

For example, consider adding meditation and yoga to your day. These practices are fantastic tools for anyone going through a challenging time, as they are proven to help you reduce stress and anxiety and  focus on clearing your mind of the day’s worries. Remember, yoga and meditation are called “practices” for a reason. You may not be able to refocus your mind the first, second, or even seventh time trying it. But with regular practice, you may find that you are calmer and come from a place of peace when encountering difficulties.

Read more in “Here’s How to Use Yoga for Stress” for more information.

  • Rejuvenate and Renew—there’s no faster way to renew yourself than to do the activities you love. However, it’s easy to overlook making time for these activities. Start by setting aside just 10 minutes a day—it can do wonders to change your outlook.
  • Rejoin—sometimes it is better to wait to rejoin with others once you are calmer and less stressed. Though you may not fully de-stress in a 10-minute break, with practice you will learn when you can and cannot connect with others. This will help you and your interactions to be more positive and help you to make sure your conversations are coming from a place of peace and love.

Build a Sense of Gratitude

The important thing to remember is that self-care allows you to feel an appreciation for the good things that you have. The result will be a better, more stable, and positive approach to your loved one with a substance use issue.

Join Our Group at Families Strong WV

Our Families Strong WV groups provide a deeper dive into these topics and guide you to define what works for you and your family. Visit to find an upcoming group near you.

If you are interested in receiving more information about our program, make sure you get in touch with our team today at (681) 378-2086 or email We’ll be here whenever you are ready. We’ll help you enroll in our group and give you the support and resources you need to support your friend or family member while they are on the road to recovery.


Families Strong WV is a free, 8-week support group for the families and friends of individuals who are using substances. It is designed to help reduce the negative effects of substance use issues on West Virginia families. The program is developed and guided by Mosaic Group, nationally recognized experts in behavioral health, with financial support from the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services.





Contact us at the Mosaic Group. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about this program.

Tel: 681-378-2086

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