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How to Help an Addict

The most important thing to remember in helping an addict is that they do not see the situation as you do. They have already justified their actions to themselves in ways that might not make any sense to anyone else, but makes perfect sense to them. You will not be able to help by dismissing their reasons of justifications for using.

Most people start using drugs or alcohol to solve a problem in their life, whether that was emotional pain, physical pain or some other problem. Now they will view your intervention as trying to take away their solution. They are terrified of how they will handle their life without their drug or alcohol “solution.” Understanding the addict’s fear is helpful to family or friends trying to help.

Most people who have substance abuse problems have tried to quit and failed many times and have lost hope that they can ever succeed in becoming drug or alcohol free. They have seen that they have destroyed relationships and believe these can never be repaired. They believe they have ruined their lives and have lost hope of ever regaining a “normal” life.

To help an addict, you can begin by deciding to be a true friend, listen to what they have to say and try to get them to tell you what problem they are trying to solve. Understand that though this might not seem to you to be a real problem or of any significance, it is very real to them. You can be understanding and acknowledge their problem, without your having to agree with it.

Understanding the problem they are trying to solve can lead to looking at other possible solutions.

Knowing how afraid they are to live life without their drug or alcohol “solution” can be addressed by educating them in understanding what effects the abuse is having on their body and their mind.

They Just Want to Get Their Life Back

Most addicts tell us they just want to get their life back. If you can give them the hope that they could actually do that, they will seek help in stopping their abuse.

Once someone makes a decision to seek help, it’s very important to do something about it right then. They could easily change their mind tomorrow, so you must do something about it instantly.

You should have a plan in place in advance for immediate withdrawal and treatment. If stopping the drug or alcohol would cause medical problems or physical pain, they should be taken to a medical detox center for the most comfortable detox possible. Fear of withdrawal pain is one of the biggest barriers to any addict seeking help.

What Else?

Educate yourself on drug and alcohol addiction.

Express your love and concern and recognize that few addicts can stop without help.

Support recovery as a process that takes time and remain involved.

More Advice

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence recommends the following don’ts:

  • Don’t Preach: Don’t lecture, threaten, bribe, preach or moralize.
  • Don’t Be A Martyr: Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink or use other drugs.
  • Don’t Cover Up, lie or make excuses for them and their behavior.
  • Don’t Assume Their Responsibilities: Taking over their responsibilities protects them from the consequences of their behavior.
  • Don’t Argue When Using: Arguing with the person when they are using alcohol or drugs, at that point they can’t have a rational conversation.
  • Don’t Feel Guilty or responsible for their behavior, it’s not your fault.
  • Don’t Join Them: Don’t try to keep up with them by drinking or using.

Addiction Help Services can help you prepare your plan in advance. Knowing exactly what you will do when your friend or family member is ready for help is vital to the future well-being and life of the addict. To find out which programs will most benefit the addict in your life, call us today at 855-889-0555.