Addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), can affect any person regardless of age, occupation, race, income, lifestyle, or gender. It is a disease, like diabetes, glaucoma, or heart disease, that can happen to anyone, and it is treatable.

If you are worried about a child or other loved one, learning about the disease and knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction can bring about earlier intervention and better outcomes.


Call the ‘Ohana Coaches at 808-523-7550

What is the ‘Ohana Coach Program?

The ‘Ohana Coach Program is a Peer to Peer Support program using local, trained volunteer coaches (via CMC: Foundation for Change and Partnership to End Addiction) to provide support and resources for people who have experienced loved ones dealing with substance use issues. This program is supported by the Hawai’i Rural Health Association and the Hawai’i Opioid Initiative.

How can I connect with an ‘Ohana Coach?

Call the ‘Ohana Coach Referral Line: 808-523-7550 to be connected to the on-call member of the ‘Ohana Coach Referral Committee.  They take calls 7 days a week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. You can also leave a voice message.  This Referral Committee Member will match you with an ‘Ohana Coach, who will contact you within 24 hours.

What kind of support does the ‘Ohana Coach provide?

‘Ohana Coaches will work with you for up to 5 phone calls (maximum 1 hour each call) at the Coach’s and your convenience. The calls are usually weekly, but scheduling is flexible. Once the 5 calls have been completed, you can be assigned to a different Coach for continued support over another 5 calls.

‘Ohana Coaches cannot provide professional counseling or substance treatment services in their peer capacity. They are trained as confidants and peers, providing FREE emotional support and coping resources for people whose family members or loved ones are dealing with substance use.

Download ‘Ohana Coach Flyer


If you suspect that your loved one is struggling with SUD, talk to them about your concerns. You might be met with resistance, or you  might say exactly what they need to hear. Remember that a person who is struggling with SUD will almost always deny the problem, and there are complicated reasons for this denial, both physical and psychological. Not only is the person likely filled with shame, but the disease has caused brain changes that make it rare for someone to recognize the problem and seek help. It is important to know that your loved one may become confrontational about being questioned.

 What the rest of the family can do:

Not all of this intuitive. Be as patient as you can; we don’t learn it all at once.

  • Do not react emotionally. No anger, no pleading, no tears (in front of user, anyway) and no rushing to help.

  • Find a Nar-Anon, Al-Anon, or other peer recovery meeting that resonates with your needs.

  • Learn to support only the loved one’s acts that lead to recovery.

  • Hate the disease, not the person. This is a reminder for when your wallet, jewelry, or golf clubs have disappeared, and you know they’ve been sold for drugs, for pennies on the dollar.

  • Stay calm. Don’t give up on the person.

  • Love unconditionally. Stay in touch with your loved one. Don’t slam the emotional door, though you may have to shut the literal one for a while.

  • Be positive; praise what you can.

  • In fact, try to say something positive each time you are together.

  • Tell jokes, try to laugh with your family members — all of them, including the user.

  • Learn that relapse is part of the process.

  • Recovery is an inside job. You can’t do it for the person.

  • We don’t change others, but we can change ourselves and how we interact with the user and others.

  • Know that recovery can be a long process. It sometimes takes years.

  • Protect yourself and other loved ones from theft, abuse, and sometimes your loved one’s associates.

  • Be kind to yourself and other members of the family. Visit friends; do your best to live life the way you would want to if you didn’t have an addict in the family. You need to heal, too.

Caring for a loved one after an ER visit:

A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department

PDF: A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department

Drug Addiction, When Your Teen Addict


  • Genetic predisposition, other blood relatives who suffer from addiction

  • Early onset of use, or how old the individual is when s/he begins using

  • Risk-taking and novelty-seeking personality traits

  • Co-occurring disorders, which put individuals at a higher risk for substance use disorder and addiction. These include ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, PTSD

  • Stress and Trauma, often at an early age — can range from divorce, abuse within the family, the observation of abuse, other traumas (accidents, violence, loss)


To find treatment in your area, call Hawai‘i CARES at: 1-800-753-6879. Hours of Operation: 24/7.