How do you connect with an addicted loved one who is avoiding you?



My son lives 15 minutes away with his girlfriend. I know he is struggling with heroin use again. When I try to text or call him, he won’t respond. Showing up unannounced makes him really angry. I don’t want to make him feel uncomfortable or stressed, but I still want him to know I care. Truthfully, I sometimes am afraid of what I’ll see when I go there (signs of using). What is a good way to connect and be positive and encouraging without ignoring the issue?


My guess is your son is not responding because of shame, remorse, guilt or all of these. He may be using, or thinking about it etc…not knowing his age and history of substance use, most of the time the moms or closest to the individual are shut out first when there is a relapse. While the hardest thing to do is stay calm when we believe our children may be killing themselves, one of the best ways to show your love is to continue texting positive words of encouragement - without any expectation. Its so tough, because as parents we want answers and default to “fix them” mode. I would not ask questions and and/or show up unannounced, but I would and do attend NarAnon Family groups which has been amazing for me. Hope this helps…


when my son would avoid me , I turned to texting. I would get these uneasy feelings, that would progress to anxiety , and almost cripple me . I would text my son simple texts, like I love you and I hope your safe, Im here when your ready for help, Stay safe and again I love you. Or if I was in a huge panic , and it was like 1am, Id send Hey XXX Im having a anxiety and can’t sleep , a little sign of life would be amazing .
Simple but meaningful text kept it simple ,and clean. Eventually he came around and asked for help, because my texts were always postive, caring and loving.
Always here if you need an ear, good luck .

Recovery Coach & Advocate
Ambrosia Treatment Center


My son and daughter avoid me, they feel ashamed. When I don’t hear from them, I know they are actively using.


So thankful to be reading all of this!
My best friend moved across the country from me and when he is showing signs of using again he starts to shut me out. I get anxious and over text him which overwhelms him and makes him ignore me some more. I feel the EXACT same way when I don’t hear from him. I spiral into such a panic that I make myself sick. I hate that I get that way. I love your tips for short positive texts!
<3 Jackie


I hate when they go quiet too @Jackiedella is there an ally on the ground you could get to support both you and the friend you’re concerned about?


@Jane yes! His wife thank goodness… and we both try hard to stay connected through all of this but the days I panic are when he shuts her out too and we can’t get in touch with him.


Totally agree with the above post. My son and I loved to watch sports ( still do ). It has always been a connection I use to keep the conversation light and stress free. Find a mutual connect and keep it light.


Totally agree with the be kind, be supportive, remove expectations and judgement approach. Just keep texting and keep in touch letting them know you’ll be there.

Of course - this is unless you are concerned that it’s a life threatening matter. Which I must admit I have gotten myself into that headspace many times when it wasn’t but it’s hard to know. On this subject I would also build a relationship with the girlfriend - that way you can get a sense from her how things are going and keep a finger on the pulse that way. Make sure you and she has narcan/naloxone just in case, and reinforce to your son (either yourself or through her) that you want him to make sure he’s not using alone. Your no. 1 concern being his safety.

Also, by building a strong relationship with his girlfriend you’ll be supporting her and she can support you. As you can see from @Dean_Acton, @stayhopeful244 and @JGibbs it can be VERY stressful to be the concerned fiance, partner, friend and they can feel like they’re carrying the world on their shoulders. Do you think we could all work together?


This is a great question and I hope my experience can help. EMPATHY is the key to getting past the defensive walls that are up for any addict. Addicts are filled with shame and feel attacked whenever anyone brings up anything to do with their addiction - I had to learn this over time with my fiancé.

Once she understood that I was in pain and drugs were only a means to help with the pain it allowed her to communicate in a much more effective manner.

Use phrases like, “I am sorry you are going through this, I can only imagine the pain you are in”

Once you get past that initial defense, the walls will come down and they will open up like a book. When I was an addict I was very much needing someone to leave on and talk to and know they would love me despite my troubles

Remember, your significant other is in a tremendous amount of pain and suffering, they use to try and self medicate and numb

Be understanding, patient and do not judge, admitting and speaking about addiction is an emotional rollercoaster I am still dealing with today after 20 years of using and clean


Your perspective is so valuable @addictability. Have a spin-off question for you to answer over here: “Even when you felt like you moved past the surface, and you shared truthfully about your pain/suffering, did you truly believe your fiance would love you despite your troubles?”


Its very painful and stressful when they avoid us. I agree with all the answers above, they feel shame, etc. The other reason they may avoid us is because they don’t want to stop what they are doing and they don’t want to hear us asking then when they are going to stop, or offer help, etc. They just want to be left alone to do their drugs without feeling guilty for hurting us. :frowning:


Thanks so much for sharing this @addictability, getting the perspective from you can be so helpful to others!

Couldn’t agree more!


Hi @lm15042, I wonder how things are going since you posted this? Has any of the feedback been helpful?

I know when my brother was in active use or even had an “emotional relapse” he would avoid me because of the shame and guilt, but also because he didn’t want to bring me into his negative headspace. Allowing him to know in whatever way works for you that you are there for him no matter what, and want to help facilitate change can be helpful. I agree with connecting with his girlfriend or anyone else in his support network can assist in reconnecting. Change takes time, and patience is hard, especially when we’re dealing with heroin. So again, like @polly mentioned:


I concur with others here. Shame and guilt lead to avoidance. In my addiction (alcohol), I avoided any contact with everyone except my fellow bar-flies. Any attempt to talk to me about my drinking brought on immediate and angry and resentful responses. As far as how to reach an addict…constant and unconditional love. Let them know that you love them no matter what. I believe (just based on my own experience and from others I have talked to), addicts do want to get better, they do want help. But they are shamed, embarrassed and afraid. I thought my family would be disgusted with me if they ever found out the depths of my addiction. When I found out my fears were unfounded, it opened the flood gates of love and support.


Thanks so much for all who replied. I sometimes lecture him in my texts and now I see I need to just be positive and encouraging. I really have gotten so much out of this community and all the answers.


<3 let us know how that works for you @lm15042


I have tried to be more positive and not lecture. He actually admitted for the first time that he is struggling. That’s amazing, because in the past he wouldn’t admit a thing! Now, to get him to agree to treatment!