Navigating Addiction and Treatment: A Guide for Families

From the Addiction Policy Forum

November 11, 2021
Navigating Addiction and Treatment guide cover

The Addiction Policy Forum has created a great guide to help families navigate the complex world of addiction and help loved ones in recovery. It’s filled with stats, treatment options, communication strategies and even “ask the expert” questions. Here are a few interesting excerpts.


According to the Addiction Policy Forum, in the United States:

  • Over 20 million people suffer from addiction — that’s one in seven people.
  • Nearly 50% of people in the U.S. know someone who has suffered or is currently suffering from a substance use disorder.
  • 23 million Americans are in recovery, proving that a person can be treated and recover from this illness.

Ask the Experts

Q: What to do when your loved one doesn’t help?

A: Dr. Brian Fuehrlein

Sometimes an honest, frank conversation can prompt the path to recovery, but when it comes to SUDs, it can be difficult for people struggling to see or acknowledge the extent of harm their substance use is causing to themselves and to others. Know that your support matters and try to be patient — even if a loved one doesn’t want to get help when you offer it. He or she will remember what you said and may be ready to engage in treatment at another time.

Try to respond to resistance with compassion and optimism — keeping in mind that your loved one may be feeling ashamed, afraid, hopeless and isolated. When possible, continue to offer your support in finding help and reminders that addiction is treatable. Read more in the full report.

Brian Fuehrlein is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine; Director, Psychiatric Emergency Room, VA Connecticut Healthcare System.

Navigating Addiction and Treatment: A Guide for Families” was released in the summer of 2020. It was created by the Addiction Policy Forum staff in conjunction with an expert review panel composed of prominent researchers and physicians in the addiction field.

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