Find Your Freedom Today. Call Now.


Free Confidential 24-hour Helpline

Who Can I Talk to If I Don’t Trust My Family?

Who Can I Talk to If I Don’t Trust My Family?

The NIDA suggests a visit to the doctor for adolescents who abuse drugs, preferably one with experience dealing with addiction issues

Denial is often a part of addiction, so when people realize that they have lost control of their drug or alcohol use and that they need help, it is an important step. Sometimes, even after realizing the need for help, however, people hesitate to seek it because they aren’t sure where to turn. This may be especially true for people who are afraid to talk to family members because of a lack of trust.

How Minors May Address Addiction When They Are Afraid to Talk to Their Parents

Whether or not addiction can be effectively addressed without ever involving family members depends on the age of the person suffering from addiction. Generally, minors will need parental involvement at some point in the process. Even for minors, however, it is possible to talk to someone else first and to enlist the help of that person in looking for treatment options and in talking to parents.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) advises adolescents to talk to their parents if they have a good relationship, but if not, to find another trusted adult in whom to confide.[i] They then suggest a visit to the doctor, preferably one with experience dealing with addiction issues. The doctor can help make the decision about whether rehab is indicated.

NIDA notes that privacy laws prevent doctors from telling parents everything discussed by their children in a healthcare visit unless the patients have given their written permission for them to do so. Doctors are also prevented from talking to law enforcement officials about their patients’ drug issues. Doctors can, however, disclose information if they believe that their patients are in danger of hurting themselves or others.

NIDA also notes that parents may get angry when the subject of drug or alcohol abuse is raised, but that their reactions are generally based in concern and worry. If the other party stays calm and continues to state the need for help, a good conversation with a positive result is likely. It is wise to expect strong emotions and a degree of shock from parents, but an initial reaction isn’t always indicative of future relationships or actions.

Adolescents who are not comfortable initially talking to their parents may want to begin by talking to a school counselor. The counselor may be able to help bring the parents into the process when necessary. A pastor or youth minister may also be able to help facilitate communication. Another option is to contact a local addiction support group. Although attending a support group is not a substitute for therapy, it is an important component of recovery, and people in the group are likely to be able to provide information about treatment options.

Adults and Addiction Treatment Privacy

When the person suffering from addiction is an adult, seeking help without involving family members is generally easier to do. Medical confidentiality laws protect patients, and people only need to disclose what they feel comfortable disclosing. It may be possible to use vacation time to attend an out-of-town rehab program, which can make people wishing to keep their treatment confidential feel more relaxed and less concerned about privacy.

Sometimes help can be found through an employer. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are designed to help workers deal with addiction and other issues. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence notes that EAPS provide assessment, short-term counseling, and referral to further treatment for people suffering from addiction issues, mental health concerns and other personal and family problems.[ii] They report that EAPs are confidential and staffed by professional counselors.

Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment

People who decide to eventually confide in their family members may wish to utilize family therapy during addiction treatment. In a publication entitled Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that family therapy can take a number of different forms.[iii] These include structural/strategic family therapy, multidimensional family therapy, multiple family therapy, multisystemic therapy, behavioral and cognitive-behavioral family therapy, network therapy, Bowen family systems therapy, and solution‐focused brief therapy. Counselors may select a type of therapy based on their training and their assessment of family needs.

Calling a Helpline

Calling a confidential helpline is an easy first step in the process of seeking help for an addiction. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can answer your questions about the treatment process and help you understand your options. If you wish, we can even check your insurance coverage for you, at no cost or obligation. We understand that it is sometimes difficult to know how to proceed when an addiction has developed, and we want to help. Call now and let us join your team.


[i] “What to Do If You Have a Problem with Drugs: For Teens and Young Adults,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, October 2015, (January 3, 2016).

[ii] “Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., (January 3, 2016).

[iii]  “Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy,” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004, (January 3, 2016).