15 Ways You Can Support Someone With a Drug Addiction

Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is extremely difficult. When you care about a friend or family member and you see them abusing drugs, you may not know what to do. You want them to quit, but they have to make that decision on their own.

To support someone with drug addiction, keep these 15 ideas in mind: 

1. Be Aware of Underlying Issues

Addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Many people use drugs and alcohol to mask issues such as childhood trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Your loved one may be using drugs to deal with stress, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

If you want to support them, be aware that addiction is not a personality flaw or a failure — in most cases, your loved one is struggling with something much deeper. 

2. Don’t Be Negative

Your loved one is already struggling, and negativity can erode the trust between you. If your loved one doesn’t trust you, they may never come to you for help.

Avoid nagging, criticizing, yelling, and calling them names. This type of negativity can make your loved one feel stressed and unloved, which may drive them to use even more. 

3. Set Boundaries

Even though you should avoid negativity, don’t let your loved one walk all over you. Addicts can quickly take advantage of kind gestures, and to avoid that, you need to establish clear boundaries.

For instance, if your loved one is emotionally abusive while drinking or taking drugs, you should refuse to spend time with them while they are high or intoxicated. 

4. Check in Regularly

Check-in with your loved one. Don’t disrespect their privacy by asking detailed questions about their drug or alcohol use. Instead, ask them questions about how they’re doing.

Be compassionate with your questions, and listen with empathy. For instance, many addicts struggle with boredom and just acknowledging that struggle can help. 

5. Be Honest

When talking with your loved one about their addiction, be honest. Let them know how the addiction has affected you. Don’t blame them for your reactions. Don’t criticize them. Just honestly and kindly, tell them what you are feeling and experiencing.

6. Don’t Use Guilt Trips

Don’t try to convince your loved one to quit by using guilt trips. That can backfire quickly. Most addicts already feel bad about their behavior, and adding more guilt only makes the situation worse.    

7. Avoid Codependent Patterns

When you’re in a relationship with an addict, you need to be aware of codependent patterns including the following:

  • Taking responsibility for the addict — To keep your loved one happy, you might shield them from the consequences of their actions. For instance, paying your loved one’s bills after they lose their job due to their addiction is a codependent behavior. 
  • Ignoring your own feelings — By always putting the addict first, you may end up neglecting your own feelings. 
  • Helping the addict manage their addiction — This type of codependent behavior includes things like buying your loved one drugs or driving them to the bar so they don’t get a DUI. 
  • Hiding their addiction — If you’re making excuses to your loved one’s boss, lying to other family members, or hide their addiction in other ways, you may also be in a codependent relationship
  • Staying in unhealthy relationships to avoid abandonment — People with codependent tendencies often fear rejection and abandonment. If you’re staying in a harmful relationship with an addict, you are likely facilitating their addiction and hurting yourself. 
  • Trying to fix your loved one — People in codependent relationships often think they can fix addicts. 
  • Saying “yes” all the time — If you never say “no” because you’re afraid of the addict blowing up or getting upset, you are probably supporting their addiction. 

Be aware of these patterns, and get help for yourself if you believe that you are in a codependent relationship with an addict. Remember, you want to support your loved one, but you don’t want to support their addiction. 

9. Don’t Argue While They Are Using

When an addict is drunk or high may seem like the perfect time to address their addiction, but unfortunately, they probably don’t know what they are doing. They won’t remember the conversation, and they may be prone to extreme arguing or violent outbursts. 

10. Stage an Intervention

When you are really worried about a loved one’s addiction, you may want to gather other loved ones to stage an intervention. The purpose of an intervention isn’t to embarrass your loved one or trick them into going into treatment.

Instead, you want to show love and support while also setting clear boundaries. A well planned intervention with a professional is usually the best option, but even just sitting down one-on-one and calmly talking can help. 

11. Get Help for Yourself

Dealing with an addict can be draining. Safeguard yourself by getting help. Consider talking with a therapist or joining a group for families and friends of addicts.

12. Learn About Addictions

If you don’t understand the symptoms of drug abuse, you may not even know for sure if your loved one is struggling with addition. Be aware of signs such as mood changes, new friends, disinterest in old hobbies, poor hygiene, money issues, and others. 

13. Encourage Positive Behavior

Encourage your loved one to do things they enjoy that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. When you see them making positive changes or even just embracing a drug-free hobby, let them know you’re proud of them. 

14. Offer Help

Offer your loved one help in the form of social support. People are less likely to struggle with addictions if they have a strong social network of people who care about them. Also, offer them information about treatment programs and rehabilitation centers. 

15. Support Their Recovery Efforts

If your loved one decides to start recovery, support their efforts. Don’t use drugs or alcohol around them. Encourage them to stay sober and offer help as needed.

Loving someone who struggles with drug or alcohol abuse can be very hard, but we can help. To learn more about treatment options, contact us today.

  1. https://www.nctsn.org/resources/making-connection-trauma-and-substance-abuse https://www.nctsn.org/resources/making-connection-trauma-and-substance-abuse
  2. https://www.dummies.com/health/mental-health/codependency/do-you-exhibit-codependent-patterns/ https://www.dummies.com/health/mental-health/codependency/do-you-exhibit-codependent-patterns/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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