How to Help a Loved One with Drug Addiction

It can be difficult to help a close friend or family member who is suffering from substance addiction. However, it is important to remember that your loved one has a much greater chance of overcoming his addiction if his social network is filled with people who show love, understanding, and support. Finding the right words to say may be hard, but you can have a positive influence on your loved one if you take the time to educate yourself about his condition. It is also helpful if you have realistic expectations of what the road to recovery may be like. 

Common Signs of Addiction

People take drugs for a variety of reasons. Some individuals take over-the-counter drugs to help with minor health concerns, others may need prescription drugs to help resolve more serious medical issues, and some people may occasionally use recreational drugs just to feel good. While there are legal and illegal paths to drug use, the facts show the vast majority of people who take drugs do not suffer from addiction. So before you can offer assistance with addiction, you need to be able to recognize if your loved one actually needs help.

There are several telltale signs of addiction. Your loved one may have a drug addiction problem if he is displaying some of the symptoms below:

  • Views drugs as the solution and not the problem
  • Needs an increasing amount of drugs over time
  • Constantly talks about getting drugs
  • Shows no interest in work or school
  • Draws away from family and friends
  • Spends more time with known drug addicts
  • Experiences frequent mood swings
  • Starts selling belongings to buy drugs
  • Starts stealing to support his drug habit
  • Has frequent sleeping problems
  • Engages in risky or dangerous behavior
  • Starts to lose or gain weight quickly 

Challenges with Getting Help

Talking to your loved one about his drug addiction can be awkward. Your loved one may feel as if he does not have a problem, and even if he does acknowledge that there is an issue, he may not want to make any of the changes you have in mind. Other people may be unwilling to open up about their drug addiction issues for fear of embarrassment or they may be afraid of losing their job if their drug addiction becomes known publicly. If your loved one is unwilling to make any healthy adjustments, it is very likely that your first attempt to persuade him to seek help will be unsuccessful.    

Things You Can Say and Do

Talk to your loved one at a time when you know he is not under the influence of drugs. It may be best to meet at a neutral place that does not serve alcohol or other addictive substances.

Although your loved one may not care about what happens to himself, he may care deeply about the welfare of his children or other family members. Kindly explain to him how his drug addiction has been affecting the lives of the people he loves. If he shows a willingness to listen, tell him what local resources are available to him. Also let him know that you will be with him to offer support. 

It is important that you and your loved one rebuild trust in each other. Learning how to communicate effectively without nagging or criticizing is a crucial part of the process. Respect your loved one’s privacy by not pushing him to discuss things he is not ready to talk about. And never discuss his challenges with people who do not need to know. 

Helping a loved one with addiction requires patience. Progress may be slow, and in some cases, people who need treatment may be resistant to seeking assistance. One therapeutic approach that has helped many individuals to get mentally and emotionally ready for treatment is motivational enhancement therapy. Using this approach may be a good idea if the person you love seems uninterested in getting professional care.