How to Support a Family Member or Friend Going Through Substance Abuse

Watching someone you love and care about in the throes of an addiction is incredibly difficult. It may bring up feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, fear and more. What will happen to that person if the addiction continues or worsens? What if that person’s addiction causes irreparable damage to your family, home, finances or life? Many people that have a friend or loved one struggling with addiction often experience both sadness and anger simultaneously but it is important to understand that there are many factors out of control that may be contributing to their addiction. Understanding this and getting educated about addiction will help you support a family member or friend going through addiction.
So often, it is incredibly hard for the non-addict to understand what the addict is “thinking.” Why would they continue to be addicted rather than seek help? Why can’t they just stop? Why can’t they see what they are doing is harmful to themselves and those around them? Don’t they care enough about their friends and family to stop? To understand addiction you must understand brain chemistry. There are three categories of addiction – use, abuse, and dependency. What starts out as use may slowly (or quickly) progress to abuse. And soon, abuse may become dependency. When an addict is in the stage of dependency, the brain has begun to change its biochemistry. Our brain’s function and thoughts release chemicals in our body. When we feel good and relaxed, it is because our body has released chemicals. When we feel fear and anger, our body releases chemicals that cause reactions in our body. As addiction and dependency continues on, particularly for long periods of time, the brain’s structure literally changes shape – holes where gray matter used to be. And those changes can dramatically impact decision making.
When supporting a family member or friend going through addiction, there are a few things you can do, or changes to your approach, that may help improve the situation and better support them to make changes in their lives. First, as previously mentioned, you must educate yourself on addiction. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to understand the situation, understand what might be contributing factors to the addiction, and better support your family member. Further, the more you know, the more likely you will be to have a compassionate approach to your interactions with them. So often, addiction is filled with shame, self-hatred, depression, and fear. When you are compassionate, and you encourage your family member to seek compassionate counseling, they will experience a judgement-free source of support that could give them the courage they need to make a change. As they seek professional behavioral therapy and addiction counseling, it may also be wise for you to seek counseling. A professional counselor will be able to provide you useful tools and a listening ear from an impartial position so that you can feel prepared to support your family member while they experience addiction counseling. For an experienced, knowledgeable, judgement-free addiction counselor in the Phoenix or Scottsdale area, contact Diebold Behavioral Therapy.

Services include:

Alcohol and Drug Abuse/Addictions Counseling:

Individualized one-on-one counseling. No groups to distract from your individual needs.

DUI or Substance Abuse Counseling:

For court mandated counseling, contact us and develop a therapeutic relationship. The court will usually allow this relationship to continue, thus satisfying your court mandated counseling for both DUI and substance abuse charges. Counseling with us is strictly one-on-one for the duration, as opposed to court referrals, which consist of group counseling.

DUI Defense Team:

This includes a locally well respected DUI attorney who will charge reasonable fees, return phone calls promptly and an attorney who has an outstanding relationship with the court. Additionally, we retain a blood expert who will ensure that local and DPS labs follow all recognized scientific procedures for testing and blood analysis. Any signs of contaminated blood, which occur more often than you’d ever believe, will result in a Not-Guilty verdict from a jury. For first time offenders: Please do not be overly intimidated by the process. This often leads to determining that you’re guilty, without an expert assisting and guiding you with reasoned expertise and objectivity. The prosecution needs to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Force them to do so with expert guidance.

Relationship Counseling:

Relationships are difficult. A non-judgmental therapist can often help untangle communication, restoring the concept of fair-fighting and other techniques to the relationship.

Other Counseling Services Include:

Traumatic Issues:

sexual abuse, harsh physical abuse/punishment and emotional abuse such as put-downs and sarcasm.


anger turned inward. Learn to process these feelings.

Self-Esteem Issues:

read D.J.s “Vision of Life” above. You’re more than the sum of what you’ve been told.


Learn to control run-away feelings.

Teen/Peer Pressure:

It happens in the corporate setting also.

DMV Reinstatement Evaluations


Do you start everything and finish nothing? Learn to focus without the rapid mind cycling buzz that constantly distracts you and keeps you from accomplishing your goals. We offer traditional medication referrals and a holistic approach, guided by our consulting psychiatrist.

Veteran’s Counseling/PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder):

I can relate as a Vietnam Era Veteran, having experienced and processed this disorder.


When does your love and support go too far? Learn appropriate boundaries for your emotional health and stability.

Learn to believe in yourself again. Allow us to help you in this time of need.

DJ Diebold, CAC, LISAC – 11485
Board Certified, State Licensed
Behavioral Health Therapist