Not a lot of people are familiar with dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. So when someone finds out their loved one is struggling it, it can be rather challenging to wrap their head around it. Not only are they learning about one thing, but their learning about two simultaneously! And how they interact or influence the other! So what does someone do when they get this kind of news? What’s the best way to approach and handle it, to be the best support for a loved one?


The first important step is to educate yourself about the conditions and better understand the symptoms. Sometimes your loved one’s condition can affect their thoughts or views. With appropriate treatment, these thoughts and attitudes can be overcome. Even though you care so much and have good intentions, try not to lecture your loved one. It’s okay to talk to them about something that’s happened due to their disorder or substance abuse, but don’t come off preachy. When having these conversations, enter it calmly when all parties are sober. Never use guilt to motivate someone, it’s an unhealthy and manipulative approach we shouldn’t take.


It’s crucial you do not enable your loved one. Even if you feel bad for them and don’t want them to struggle, you must stay strong. The more we enable them, the easier we make it for them to continue self-destructive behaviors. If your loved one is really struggling with addiction, they will most likely ask for money. Don’t give in to their requests. Loaning a substance abuser money enables them to keep supplying their cravings.


At any point, don’t ever blame yourself. Remember that your loved one has two conditions that are treatable. You didn’t cause either of them, which means you can’t cure them either. All you can do is give your best support and have patience. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not your responsibility to make your loved one well. You can encourage them to get the professional help they need. Be sure to allow your loved one to spend all the time they need with support groups and treatment. When individuals recover, they could go through withdrawal symptoms or struggle rebalancing their moods. If you experience this with your loved one, just remember it’s a part of the process and don’t take it personally, be patient and understanding.

Helping someone recover from addiction is tough. It’s especially challenging when they’re struggling with a co-occurring disorder in addition. While the focus is mainly on helping an individual regain control of their life and get healthy, we can’t forget their loved ones. Dual diagnosis doesn’t only affect the individual, it greatly affects their friends and family as well. It can be hard for struggling individuals to see their lives and actions clearly, but surrounding sober loved ones see and feel it all. On top of that, they know, a lot of the time, the person isn’t their true self.