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When my son was struggling with substance use and my family needed help supporting him, I was told I was enabling

When families are supporting a loved one struggling with substance use, they’re often given uninformed advice rooted in stigma. There are effective strategies for actively supporting a loved one with addiction, but they aren’t widely available.

By Marie Welsh

So often I was told by well-meaning people, including professionals, that I had to get out of his way. Let go. Detach. Watch him tumble into the abyss to find his rock bottom. To me, that felt like telling me, “Your family hasn’t suffered enough, and neither has your loved one.”

“Stop enabling him,” they would say. “Stop being codependent. You’re as sick as he is.” While there were some times when I believed this, and even did my best to follow these “recommendations,” most of the time it felt like I was abdicating my responsibilities as a parent and abandoning my child when he needed me most.

The Problem

There is a significant gap in federal funding for community organizations and other nonprofits providing family support services. Family support services include training and education, family therapy, assistance to help families locate or access resources, and crisis and/or loss and grief support. The evidence is strong that when family members are involved in their loved one’s care and recovery, outcomes are better.

The Solution

Establish a federal grant program to invest in the roles of caregivers and families in addressing substance use disorder and addiction, empowering them with training, education and peer-to-peer support.

Take Action


Ask your members of Congress to fund family support services

Send a letter to your members of Congress urging them to cosponsor the Supporting Families Through Addiction Act, which would create a grant program to help organizations provide support services to families impacted by addiction.