Addiction is very complex and affects the operation of both the brain and the body. Some believe it’s a disease of the brain, others believe it’s a choice. Regardless of a person’s stance on the topic, one thing holds true, Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can cause significant damage to families and relationships. As a family member or loved one, you may feel helpless. Many who are suffering from active addiction lose control, continue to use even when they suffer consequences of their use, and/or strong urges to continue using even when feel they want to stop. It can cause someone we trust to lie, cheat and steal because the urge is so powerful.

People don’t just wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll become addicted to drugs today”. Addiction doesn’t make someone a terrible person. Someone suffering from addiction may start using initially because of peer pressure, curiosity, or attempting to escape from emotions. Regardless, many people keep using substances because the pain of stopping may feel too great. At first, it seems as though it’s easily controlled but then within the blink of an eye it’s used just to feel “normal”. Drugs change our brain and those changes can last a very long time. Those changes can be seen in a person’s mood, memory, and decision-making.


  • Taking a substance more often or for longer than intended
  • Difficulty stopping substance use even though a person really wants to
  • Spending a significant amount of time trying to obtain or use a substance
  • Craving or strong desire to use
  • Making consistent mistakes at work, school, or home
  • Continuing to use despite recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or made worse by substance use
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to substance use
  • Recurrent substance use in risky situations that may possibly be harmful to yourself or others
  • Continuing to use even though you know it’s negatively impacting your mental and physical health
  • Tolerance (the need to increase the amount of a substance over time to achieve the desired effect)
  • Withdrawal

If your addiction has become unmanageable or you’ve started to slip back into a pattern of use and you need support, please reach out and get the help that is available to you.

If you are struggling to cope with a loved one who is struggling with addiction, there is also help for you too. You can find peace and begin to have healthy and satisfying relationships with your loved one, others, and yourself again.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed).
Skip to content