How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction

Published on

Addiction can develop slowly, often without the affected person fully realizing that they have a chemical dependency. As a result, helping someone who has an addiction can be challenging, but patience and professional guidance can go a long way toward helping them heal.

How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction

According to the Pew Research Center, about 46% of American adults have a family member or close friend who has experienced addiction.

While the effort to help a loved one get help can feel isolating, there are many people who are going through a similar experience. Fortunately, there are proven approaches that can help.

Acknowledging The Disorder

A chronic drug use disorder is not the product of a conscious decision. Addiction is a mental health disorder that often requires medical treatment.

The early signs of a mental health disorder can include:

  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • fatigue or other changes in energy and sleep patterns
  • skipping work and other major responsibilities
  • changes in behavior that may be erratic or aggressive
  • compulsive or repetitive behavior
  • loss of empathy, attention, or motivation
  • risk-taking behavior, including lying, stealing, or increased promiscuity

If you suspect that your loved one may be abusing drugs or alcohol, then it is important to frame your concern as an offer to help them access the medical care they need.

Destigmatizing Addiction

A drug or alcohol use disorder is not a reflection of a person’s morals or resiliency. It’s a medical condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, race, or economic background.

Using person-first language and avoiding other stigmatizing language, such as “addict” or “drunk,” can help someone with a substance use disorder (SUD) be more receptive to aid.

Offering Assistance

Many people who are dependent on drugs or alcohol are not able to see the extent to which their condition has affected their behavior and their relationships.

As a result, it is often more beneficial to start a conversation regarding their substance abuse with observations related to their behavior.

Instead of focusing on their use of substances, bring to their attention other personality and behavioral changes you’ve noticed and offer help.

For example, you might express concern that your loved one appears tired and is choosing not to spend time doing things they used to love.

This opens an avenue for a conversation that focuses on the effects of substance abuse, while allowing room to discuss other issues, underlying factors, and, eventually, addiction treatment.

Recognizing Underlying Factors

It is common for people who abuse drugs and alcohol to have other mental health conditions. This is called co-occurring disorders.

Conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and autism can occur alongside substance use disorders.

The co-occurring condition may precede substance abuse or result from it. Either way, treating the co-occurring condition is just as important and may be easier to directly address.

Other factors to consider may be housing insecurity, unemployment, grief, or a traumatic experience. In each case, offering help with an underlying factor can be a starting point.

Organizing An Intervention

If a loved one doesn’t believe they need treatment or rejects the idea of getting professional care for another reason, an intervention may be a useful tool.

Successful interventions require careful planning, as a poorly designed plan could result in negative consequences. To get help planning an intervention, contact a free rehab center in your area.

If your local free rehab program does not offer intervention services, they may be able to provide a referral to a program that does.

Tips For Success

When organizing an intervention, keep these tips in mind.

1. Research your loved one’s condition and identify possible treatment approaches.

2. Choose a supportive intervention team. Everyone included should have the ability to stay calm and focused.

3. Write notes about what you plan to say and do. Perform at least one run-through with your intervention team.

4. Decide on individual consequences that you can practically carry out if your loved one refuses treatment.

5. Consequences should be limited to things like space in your home, time with your family, or financial support. Whether they get treatment or not, they should know that you love them.

6. Consider hiring a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor (LCADC) to help, especially if your loved one may be combative or has a known co-occurring mental health condition.

7. Research and begin the treatment program enrollment process to help your loved one start treatment right away with little to no effort.

Staying Focused During An Intervention

Emotions can run high when a person is confronted with the consequences of their SUD, so it is vital to stay calm and focused during the intervention.

Take time to develop your plan with the guidance of local professionals, and stick to the plan. Be ready with information regarding treatment. This may include pamphlets for local rehab programs.

If your loved one is part of an at-risk group, such as veterans, pregnant women, or LGBTQ+ people who need substance abuse treatment, targeted resources are usually available.

Providing these resources for your loved one may help.

Find Treatment Today

There is help available. If your loved one needs treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction, contact to learn about your options.



Canton, Massachusetts

Bedrock Recovery Center


Levels of Care:

Payment Options: Insurance Accepted, Self Pay

View Center Profile


Plymouth, Massachusetts

Ohio Recovery Center


Levels of Care:

Payment Options: Insurance Accepted, Self Pay

View Center Profile

Spring Hill Recovery Center

Ashby, Massachusetts


Detox Rehabs Logo