Updated on April 3, 2024
5 min read

The 3 C’s of Addiction Recovery: 3 Goals for Family Members

What are the 3 C’s of Addiction Recovery?

The 3 C’s of addiction recovery are tools that help the family members and friends of people with substance use disorders (SUDs). The 3 C's refer to the things you cannot do for your loved one. If you have a loved one with an addiction, these can help you handle helpless feelings.

Watching someone you care about struggle with addiction is one of the most difficult things a person can face. Many people wonder if they are to blame. They might try to control the situation or force their loved ones to get treatment.

Unfortunately, these things only hinder the person’s recovery. The 3 C’s are a simple tool to remind you of your role in their addiction recovery.

The three C’s are:

1. I Didn’t Cause It

It's important to remember that you didn't cause your loved one's addiction, even if they blame you for it. You might have made mistakes in the past, but your mistakes didn't cause an addiction to develop. Unless you're directly responsible for how they obtain drugs or alcohol, you're not to blame.

Accepting that you are not the cause of an addiction can help you release guilt. It also helps your loved one learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Additionally, you need to realize that nobody else is the cause of the addiction, either. No single person can cause addiction. The only causes of addiction are:

  • Biological factors
  • Psychological factors
  • Social experiences

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2. I Can’t Cure It

There is no cure for addiction; however, treatment is available. Many people have successfully attained long-term recovery and sobriety. 

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that must be treated like any other disease. You can only provide support.

There is no such thing as loving someone, bribing someone, or reasoning them out of their addiction. You can only support them, especially through treatment.

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3. I Can’t Control It

Loved ones have no control over their family member or friend’s addiction. Having an addiction means having little to no ability to think rationally.

Not seeking help, even when it is obvious that they need it, is a symptom of addiction. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to force someone into rehabilitation. They must make this decision on their own.

All you can do is support them, encourage them, and respect boundaries. Even if they blame you, it is part of their addiction. You can’t force them to change. 

Purpose of the 3 C’s in Recovery

The purpose of the 3 C’s is to help loved ones understand their role. Many people assume they can control their loved one’s behavior and “cure” them.

The three C’s help loved ones understand that they cannot:

  • Make someone quit drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances
  • Do the work for them
  • Allow the struggling person’s behavior to violate their boundaries

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Ready to Start the Road to Recovery?  

There are many different treatment options available for people with SUD. These include:

What Can You Do?

It may seem like there isn’t anything you can do when you love someone with an addiction. However, some things can help you and enhance your ability to help your loved one. 

For example:

Educate Yourself

Consider learning about addiction, treatment programs, and your loved one's specific needs. Many rehabilitation programs offer educational programs for friends and family members.

You can also go to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings. These support groups are designed to help the loved ones of people with addiction. The former is for alcoholism, and the latter is for drug addiction.

Having a deep understanding of addiction can help you stay sympathetic and open-minded. It can also help you cope and manage your feelings.

Prioritize Self Care

When a loved one is dealing with illness, putting them first is easy. Unfortunately, not taking care of yourself can do more harm than good.

Taking care of yourself and making healthy decisions is essential. It's part of providing support and encouragement to your recovering loved one. When you prioritize your physical and mental health, your loved one can focus on their recovery.

Talk To Someone

If you aren’t comfortable participating in a support group, consider one-on-one counseling. It may help manage your feelings regarding your loved one’s addiction.

Find someone you trust who is comfortable and qualified in discussing addiction.

Be Supportive in their Recovery

Recognize their achievements and offer to help in practical ways. Also, offer to keep them company if they are experiencing temptation. Give them space to manage their situation.

Remember, controlling your loved one’s addiction behavior or treatment is impossible. Once someone has decided to seek treatment, step back and allow them to heal. 

Trying to control your loved one can negatively affect treatment results. Your role in your loved one’s recovery is to offer support and encouragement, even if it's difficult. 

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Updated on April 3, 2024

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