How to Help Someone Struggling With Drug Addiction


Substance abuse is a far more common problem than we would like to acknowledge. If you have a friend, a family member, or any other loved one who is struggling with drug addiction, they will need all the help that they can get to overcome their problem. Unfortunately, the road to recovery is long and heartbreaking for everyone involved.

There will be times when the situation will become so overwhelming that you might feel inclined to ignore it altogether. However, turning a blind eye to the problem can be damaging to yourself, the person involved, and your family. As difficult as it might be, it is crucial that you take the time to encourage your loved one to get help and provide them the support they need to overcome this dangerous problem.

Learning how to help someone struggling with drug addiction requires equipping yourself with the necessary information about the problem and understanding what can help your loved one. This post will serve as a guide to help you understand drug addiction for what it is and some crucial tips on how to help someone struggling with drug addiction.

Understanding Drug Addiction

A person can start using drugs for many reasons. They might have been curious, simply wanted to have a good time, to improve their athletic performance, to forget about their emotional issues, or due to peer pressure.

If someone starts using drugs, it does not automatically lead to them abusing the substance. It is almost impossible to figure out the exact cause or the time when drug use goes from being casual to becoming a problem.

Drug use is typically less about how often a person resorts to using them and more about why they turned to use the substance in the first place and the effect that using them is having on their lives. For instance, if drug use is causing instability in your personal life, it is likely that you have a drug abuse problem.

Not everyone who uses drugs starts abusing them. The likelihood of someone developing a substance abuse problem varies from person to person. There are certain risk factors that can increase the chances of someone developing an addiction to drugs, but they do not necessarily apply in every case.

Some of the risk factors for substance abuse include:

  • Use of drugs from a young age
  • Method of using the drugs (smoking and injection make it more likely to become addicted)
  • Mental health disorders (someone who is depressed or anxious is more likely to abuse drugs)
  • Abuse, neglect, or any traumatic experience.
  • A history of addiction in the family.

Tips on How To Help Someone Struggling With Drug Addiction

Helping a loved one struggling with drug addiction is not easy and there is no fixed formula to help them stop using the substance that they have been abusing. However, there are steps that you can take to help a loved one get treatment for their substance abuse problem.

Learn about addiction

Educating yourself about drug addiction, its symptoms, and how to help a struggling addict is a critical step in helping someone with a substance abuse problem. Addiction is a complex disease and it is understandable that you might not know everything about it right away. There will be many aspects of addiction that you don’t understand, and that is okay.

It is important to take the time to read about substance abuse and understand more about the disease that your loved one is struggling with. When you know how it is affecting them, it can help you understand how to help them much better. It can help you become aware of the signs which show that your loved one is struggling.

Offer your support

Substance abuse is unfortunately seen as a stigma. In many cases, addicts become ostracized by their friends and family who look at their drug addiction as a reflection of who they are as a person. The person suffering from the disease might not always understand how much their friends and family love them.

It is critical to show your support to your loved one and talk to them about your concerns. Do not wait for them to hit rock bottom before you speak up and show them support. Let them explicitly know that you are there to support them on their road to recovery.

Just the knowledge that they have your support can do wonders in boosting their chances of recovering from the substance abuse problem.

Encourage them to get the help they need

Like with any disease, addressing the problem earlier can improve the chances of recovery. The earlier they get help, the better. Unfortunately, it is also common for people early in their substance abuse problem to be in denial about it. You might find your loved one making excuses for why they do not want to seek treatment.

Do not let their inaction or denial frustrate you. Instead, you should remain persistent (while being gentle) and help them understand how important it is for them to get treatment for their addiction. Be careful not to make them feel ashamed or guilty because you can run the risk of them shutting you off.

If the situation is dire, you might have to consider holding an intervention for them. Interventions are much easier said than done but might be the only viable option if your loved one is deep into their substance abuse problem.

Take care of yourself

Nobody can help another person recover from a problem if they are not fit themselves. It is important for you to take good care of yourself so that you can make the best possible decisions to help your loved one. Many people who have loved ones suffering from drug addiction tend to ignore their own needs and exhaust themselves in trying to take care of the other person.

Make sure that you meet your own needs, get the rest you need, exercise properly, and eat well. You should even consider going to therapy if you find yourself struggling because of your loved one’s addiction. Fortifying yourself can go a long way in ensuring that your loved one can recover from their problem.

Is A Loved One Struggling With Addiction?

Remember that recovering from opioid addiction is not as simple as flipping a switch. The change is gradual and it can come with its ups and downs. A multi-year study found that two out of three individuals recovering from addiction have relapsed within the first year of recovery.

However, continuous efforts to recover from the addiction have shown positive results. Relapses happen, but the chances begin decreasing over time. Relapses are not a sign of failure. Instead, they are a sign that the treatment method needs to be changed. Your loved one might relapse several times before finding an effective treatment method that keeps them on track.

If you’ve had an intervention and are ready to support your loved one through addiction treatment, Beat Addiction offers a medication-assisted treatment program that can make the road to recovery a little easier traveled. Explore the treatment to learn more.