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You’ve Got a Plan!

couple talk on couch showing brochure
Illustration © Eleanor Davis

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve made it to this site. This means you are putting together a plan for dealing with substance abuse in your family. And not just any plan – a plan that puts together the best that science and practice have to offer.

So pause and take a deep breath because on this site you will find everything you’re going to need.

The Video Modules on this site lay out the plan step by step. You’re going to start by making sure you know how to stay safe and you're going to think through what you would do in a crisis.

With our guidance, you are going to identify the aspects that are key to your relationship and to your Loved One’s substance use. These observations will help you see what’s important, where you can assert yourself and influence change, and where you can clean things up and make your message clearer.

Next, it’s time to focus on your communication: how to avoid fights, how to avoid the vagueness that consumes relationships where there is substance abuse, and how to really listen to your Loved One. Communication is so important. It will help build back that bridge between you, it will soften things, and help you remember the power you do have to alter outcomes.

It’s also time to ask the key question: are they using right now or are they not?

You’ll want to put other things aside and focus on what is right in front of you with regards to your Loved One’s use. She just came home: is she doing that little smile she does when she’s been smoking?; are his eyes drooping?; is he avoiding looking at me? Or, is her energy normal?; is she on time?; does his voice sound strong?

You know what to look for, and with our help, you’ll be making some notes based on those key observations. You can now behave and communicate in a way that lines up with these observations: stepping away, removing rewards, and allowing natural consequences if they’re using, or stepping in and rewarding if they’re not.

And you’re getting a handle on your own thoughts and feelings. You’re paying attention to how you may be distorting your thoughts and making yourself feel bad. You’re cutting yourself a break, and taking time for yourself; looking for a better balance in your life.

And, finally, you’ll do the homework around treatment. You’ve identified some options and written them down for your Loved One. You understand the admissions process and what insurance will cover. You’ve learned to look for wishes and dips, moments when your Loved One’s motivation for change is showing, either through a wish for something more in their life, or a dip, those bad feelings that accompany use. You’ve scripted your request to your Loved One to consider treatment and you've rehearsed it a couple times. You’re ready to step in at a moment’s notice and intervene.

Now take another breath. You’re as ready as you can be, with the best plan possible, adapted to your specific situation . Stay alert and connected.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Our daughter (30 years) is on 4 prescriptions (Opiate, Wellbutrin, Benzos and not sure what the other one is), plus marijuana. 2 days ago she tried to commit suicide and said she took a whole bottle of Methadone, but thankfully was not successful. She lives on her own and pays her way, but is struggling badly with finances. Occasionally I buy groceries but had not done that in 4 months. She was held in the hospital for 3 days and treated for possible pneumonia and they found a heart condition. She would not give us approval to speak with the doctor and nurse so our hands were tied. Amazingly she passed a tele psyc eval and refused to stay any longer. They said they had to let her go. All she cares about is getting help with fixing her hot water heater so she can shower, and it appears that she went on Methadone to get help with getting off of the Opiates. She definitely is struggling a lot with mental issues and memory. She’s accusing men of beating and raping her and 2 of them I knew personally and don’t believe they did it. She knows she’s dependent on the drugs and has told me so. She has isolated herself away from family and has blocked me on social media and phone calls even after getting home from the hospital. Her father, myself and our son are on board with getting her help even though she is not asking for it. We are researching on intervention (non confrontational) and residential recovery. We are pretty sure she will need a safe detox situation, but don’t know where to find that and how it fits in with the residential recovery. Cost is definitly a consideration; she is on Medi-Cal (California low income insurance) and family can contribute some money as well. We love her very much and are so afraid she will attempt suicide again. I’m not sure how we can help her to realize that she needs to get help and that we are willing to assist with that.

    1. Lovely, there are really no words that can do justice to the pain and suffering you are enduring on this soulful journey with your daughter. For all involved, it’s a time of feeling emotionally overwhelmed, traumatized by uncertainty, and searching for answers in the darkest of shadows.

      I am not sure what to make of your daughter’s attempting suicide, yet you say, “all she cares about is getting help with fixing her hot water heater so she can shower”… One is an existential crisis, the other is about just getting basic needs met…..

      Read our team’s full response to Lovely here:

  2. My son just went into a treatment facility today. Not sure how connected I should be, because when he gets out I want him to find his own place to live. I am just so relieved he has made this choice. Praise God!