Author: John Carter

Treatment and Recovery National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA

how to help someone with a drug addiction

If someone you love is experiencing a substance use disorder, please bear in mind that they have a chronic illness and need support and help. Learning about addiction and how not to enable a person is one way you can help them. Having the ongoing support of loved ones and access to professionals can make all the difference.

When a loved one is addicted, boundaries can help us avoid the chaos of addiction and maintain our sanity. To understand how to live with a loved one who has an addiction, it’s important to first learn the driving forces behind the addiction itself. It also may be right to ask your loved one to seek support from a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

how to help someone with a drug addiction

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You may need to work with a therapist to help you both reestablish the much-needed trust your relationship needs to thrive. Read on to learn how to overcome the challenges that can occur when living with a loved one with addiction, along with how to care for them — and yourself. If you think it’s important to have someone involved but worry that it may create an issue during the intervention, consider having that person write a short letter. People can use several online resources as a starting point to help their loved one or friend take the first steps toward healing.

Who Should Be Included at an Intervention?

While setting boundaries won’t cure your loved one of their drug addiction or guarantee they seek help, neither will spending money. If your loved one chooses not to address their addiction, it won’t matter how much money you spend trying to change that. Ultimately, all you can control is how well you look after your own health and welfare. This will likely be the first of many conversations you’ll need to have regarding your loved one’s drug use. It may take several conversations for them to even acknowledge they have a problem, the first step on the road to recovery. Whatever your loved one’s reason for starting, though, not everyone who uses drugs develops a problem.

Whatever you say, never call someone an “alcoholic” or addict.” It’s not just a stigmatizing put-down, it actually limits how people can see themselves. It is difficult for those addicted to see beyond the craving and momentary pleasures, to envision functioning without their drug, yet important for their future to have a powerful positive incentive to do so. Lectures and confrontational techniques are usually ineffective and often damage relationships that could be levers of change.

NA and Other Peer Support Groups for Drug Addiction

Offer specific examples of your loved one’s drug-related behavior that have made you concerned—and be honest about your own feelings. It’s not always easy to recognize if a loved one is abusing drugs. In teens, for example, drug abuse can often resemble normal adolescent moodiness. Furthermore, there’s no specific amount or frequency of use that indicates someone’s drug use has become a cause for concern. Whether your loved one is using every day or every month, it’s the adverse impact their drug abuse has on their life that indicates a problem.

  1. Your loved one may become defensive or angry and refuse to discuss their drug use.
  2. Other important factors that can affect a person’s recovery include family involvement and other social supports.
  3. You can reduce your stress levels by eating right, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and practicing a relaxation technique such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
  4. Many of these offer in-person meetings, but online support groups are also available.
  5. Whatever you say, never call someone an “alcoholic” or addict.” It’s not just a stigmatizing put-down, it actually limits how people can see themselves.

Drug addiction is dangerous because it becomes all-consuming and disrupts the normal functioning of your brain and body. When a person is addicted, they prioritize using the drug or drugs over their wellbeing. This can have severe consequences, including increased tolerance to the substance, withdrawal effects (different for each drug), and social problems. It is a myth that the desperation of hitting rock bottom is the only way to get people to accept the need for change—or believe that they can.

Charitable Care & Financial Assistance

Only a small proportion of people—from 5 to 10 percent—do it with the help of any type of clinical service or facility. Many people choose to free themselves of addiction through the support of peers, in self-help or mutual support groups. Just as there is no one pathway into addiction, there is no one pathway out of it. Armed with compassion, it is possible to hold a calm, respectful conversation with your loved one about your concerns. The same conversation can awaken or fortify the motivation for change by asking your loved one about his or her deepest values and dreams for life. It can take time to trust a loved one again, especially if they’ve lied, exhibited harmful behaviors, or stolen from you.

Steps for Overcoming Drug Addiction

Still, it’s important to let the person know you are receptive to talking any time. Often, children, partners, siblings and parents are on the receiving end of abuse, violence, threats and emotional upheaval because of alcohol and drug issues. You can’t control the behavior of your loved one with the addiction. But you can remove yourself — and any children — from a dangerous situation.

Overcoming drug addiction is a process that requires time, patience, and empathy. A person will want to consider actions they can take such as committing to change, seeking support, and eliminating triggers. Depending on the addiction, medications may also be available to help. Medication can be an effective part of a larger treatment plan for people who have nicotine use disorder, alcohol use disorder, or opioid use disorder. They can be used to help control drug cravings, relieve symptoms of withdrawal, and to help prevent relapses.

Too often, efforts to help one troubled member of the family consume all the oxygen in the home. It’s challenging—but necessary for everyone’s well-being—to maintain family functions and routines as much as possible. It can also be helpful to explain to others in the household, in an age-appropriate way not overloaded with detail, that Dad or Sis is struggling with a problem. What you can do is take steps right now to ensure your safety and protect your well-being. It’s also important to pay attention to your non-verbal communication.

Everyone’s situation is different, and the person with addiction may not have sought treatment or could be refusing treatment and help. A person may have a friend or family member with addiction and wonder how to help them. The American Psychiatric Association refers to addiction as severe substance use disorder (SUD) and describes it as a condition where someone uses a substance despite harmful consequences. For another, it could mean cutting back or staying mostly drug-free. Being too rigid in your expectations can lead to disappointment and a sense of failure, even if your loved one finds stability in their life again. Staging an intervention tends to be a last-ditch effort to make someone realize they need treatment.