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Understanding & Supporting a Loved One's Recovery

Understanding & Supporting a Loved One's Recovery


Nearly 20 million individuals and their families are affected by addiction or substance use disorders every year. It can happen to anyone, any family, anywhere. Caring about, living with, or loving a person with an addictive disease can be challenging. Learning about addiction, treatment, and recovery can help you relate to and support your loved ones on their path to recovery. 

When supporting a loved one in recovery, it's important to understand:

  • Addiction is a disease of the brain, not a moral weakness.
  • There are multiple pathways to sustained recovery. None of these pathways is wrong. 
  • Recovery is personal. It is a life-long process of learning, growing and fulfilling one’s goals for their future. 
  • The use of medications to help one manage the disease of addiction is not a crutch nor a means of replacing one substance for another. Medications improve both survival and retention in treatment as well as lessen the likelihood of recurring incidents of use.
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Video: What Families Need to Know to support a loved one living with addiction


    Your Role

    The support of peers and social networks can help keep individuals engaged in treatment, and committed to their recovery. Support comes in many forms. Ask your loved one how you can be the most supportive to them and take their lead.

    With the agreement of the individual in treatment/recovery, you can:

    • Help developing their treatment or recovery plan. This plan details small personal goals specific to the individual related to physical and mental health, employment, family and interpersonal relationships
    • Attend mutual support meetings with your loved one or on your own to connect with others who have experienced addiction second-hand.
    • Seek out OASAS treatment services and recovery supports.


    Kinship Care

    Being on a recovery journey sometimes means spending time away from home. Kinship care is when family members or close friends take primary care of children whose parents are unable to care for them due to residential treatment, incarceration, overdose or death. Kinship ensures children remain safe and connected to family and community.

    We designed the Kinship Care toolkit to support children and their adult caregivers, but the tools can be used by anyone looking to initiate difficult conversations surrounding loss, separation or abandonment. You'll also find:

    • Information about grief
    • Spotting "red-flag" behavior in youth and young adults
    • Having age-appropriate discussions
    • Interactive exercises for children to express their feelings, promote positive thinking and self-image.


    Family Support Services

    Experiencing addiction second-hand can have lasting effects. Regardless of where a person may be in their recovery, the lives of those closest to them can become painful, complicated and overwhelming. Many OASAS-certified treatment programs and OASAS-run Addiction Treatment Centers offer treatment services for family members that have been impacted by substance use disorders. You can ask a treatment provider if they offer treatment to family members.

    OASAS treatment programs may also employ a Family Support Navigator. Navigators are trained staff that help individuals and their families understand addiction and navigate the addiction services system.

    Treatment for family and loved ones is often covered by insurance.
    If you experience insurance issues accessing services call the OASAS CHAMP line (888-614-5400) or email: [email protected].

    Recovery Communities

    OASAS partner Friends of Recovery New York (FOR-NY) leads and organizes a network of local organizations called Recovery Community Organizations across New York State. These local organizations offer a wide array of opportunities to get involved and help develop community resources that address addiction and support recovery.


    Find a Recovery community Organization

    Self Help and Support Groups

    Many find it helpful to join a self-help or support group for friends, families, and loved ones of individuals struggling with an addiction or in recovery. These mutual assistance groups are typically free and based on shared personal experiences rather than professional, fee-based services, like counselors or therapists.

    Some notable mutual assistance groups are:

    Alcohol and/or Narcotics