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Addiction Recovery Blog

The Three C’s of Addiction

Family members, parents, spouses and even friends struggle and feel helpless when watching a loved one in the throes of an addiction. You may find yourself asking often: “what did I do wrong?” and trying to control the situation or fix the one you care about.

In order to support your loved one and give them to best encouragement during addiction recovery, remember the three C’s for family members:

  1. I didn’t cause it
  2. I can’t cure it
  3. I can’t control it


You did not cause your loved one’s addiction, even though they often blame the people who are closest to them. Accepting this can relieve a lot of the guilt you feel, and this realization may help them take responsibility of their own actions.

Blaming Others

Even family members can get caught up in trying to find a person to blame.

  1. The doctor who prescribed pain killers
  2. The teacher who said your child needed medication for ADD
  3. The other parent for being too soft, or even too rigid

Your words or behaviors cannot cause an addiction. Neither can a single person. The only cause is some combination of elements, which include:

  • Biological elements
  • Psychological elements
  • Social elements


Addiction is a chronic brain disease, and while you want to cure your loved one, you can’t. A substance abuse problem should be thought of like diabetes – a disease that can be managed with treatment, but no one can just “hope” it away.

Must be Treated

The only way to recover is through a rehab program, and the sufferer must put in the work. Even though you cannot cure your loved one, you can support him or her and help them succeed. No amount of the following will cure an addiction:

  • Loving
  • Pleading
  • Bribing
  • Reasoning


You cannot control your loved one’s actions because eventually the substance takes control of their rational thinking, and therefore his or her actions. It can be a horrible feeling to know you cannot make them get the help they need. The decision to enter rehab will have to be on their terms. You can support and encourage your loved one, but only treatment will bring back the person they used to be.

What You Can and Can’t Do

You cannot:

  • Make them quit
  • Do the recovery work for them
  • Accept behavior that violates your boundaries

You can:

  • Get educated
  • Take care of yourself
  • Talk about it1

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How to Help

You may feel like your hands are tied, but there are several ways to help.

  • Find a comprehensive and individualized addiction treatment program. This is the only path for your loved one to begin to manage the disease.
  • Offer support and encouragement to help ensure recovery.
  • Be open to family therapy during treatment as addiction affects the whole family. These sessions are an important part to the overall program.

Contact us for more information on our individualized treatment plan with family therapy, and get your loved one on the road to recovery.


1 Three C’s of Addiction Recovery. (accessed Dec 11 2018).

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