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4 minutes

How to Help Someone with Addiction

Medically Reviewed
Last Medically Reviewed on:
A person comforting another by holding their hand.

Written by

Kevin Lang

Updated on

29 Apr, 2024

Addiction can touch anyone’s life, regardless of age, background, or social circle. It can leave loved ones feeling helpless and unsure how best to support their friend or family member. Witnessing the pull of drugs or alcohol can be heartbreaking, and the fear of saying the wrong thing can keep us from reaching out.

But here’s the good news: there are ways to offer support and encourage recovery.

Today, we’ll tackle the question on many minds: “How can I help someone with addiction?” We’ll explore communication strategies, the importance of professional help, and the incredible power of friendship in overcoming addiction.

Whether you’re looking for guidance on how to have a difficult conversation or simply want to understand addiction better, this blog is here to equip you with the knowledge and resources to make a difference.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is more than just a bad habit or a lack of willpower. It’s a complex disease that hijacks the brain’s reward system. It makes it difficult to resist the urge to use a substance despite its negative consequences.

Here’s a breakdown of what happens:

  • Reward System: When we engage in pleasurable activities, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness and satisfaction. This motivates us to repeat those behaviors.
  • Addictive Substances: Drugs and alcohol trigger an abnormally strong dopamine response, flooding the reward system with intense pleasure. This creates a powerful craving for the substance.
  • Repeated Use: With continued use, the brain adapts by becoming less sensitive to dopamine. This leads to tolerance, meaning a person needs more and more of the substance to achieve the same level of pleasure.
  • The Cycle Continues: The cycle of craving, use, and tolerance fuels the addiction. People may continue using despite the consequences on their health, relationships, and work.

It’s important to distinguish between recreational use and addiction. Someone might try a drug occasionally without becoming addicted. But if your life starts to focus on getting and using that drug, it’s probably an addiction.

How Can You Help Someone with Addiction?

Watching someone you care about struggle with addiction can be incredibly difficult. You naturally want to do everything you can to fix the situation, but sometimes, good intentions can make things worse.

Here are some ways to support them in a helpful way.

Communication is Key

  • Non-judgmental Space: Create a safe space for open and honest communication. Express your concern with “I” statements, like “I’m worried about your health lately,” rather than accusatory language. Listen actively and validate their feelings.
  • Focus on Solutions: Instead of dwelling on the past, offer support for moving forward. Ask them how you can best help, whether it’s accompanying them to therapy appointments or helping them avoid triggers.

Offer Help, Don’t Enable

The line between support and enabling can be blurry. When you enable someone with addiction, you shield them from facing the consequences of their actions. This can stop them from wanting to change.

  • Set Boundaries: This might involve refusing to lend money for drugs or cleaning up after relapses. It’s about showing tough love, setting clear expectations, and letting them face the natural consequences of their choices.
  • Focus on Empowerment: Your role is to offer support, not take away their responsibility for recovery. Encourage them to take ownership of their journey and celebrate their successes, big or small.

Encourage Professional Help

Addiction is a complicated illness that often needs professional intervention.

  • Therapy: Talking with a therapist can help deal with the reasons behind addiction and find ways to handle cravings. There are various therapy options available, including group therapy, art therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and more, which we provide at Infinite Recovery.
  • Treatment Options: Look into different types of treatment, like inpatient or outpatient rehab centers, depending on how serious the addiction is.

The Power of Friends

A man standing and talking in group therapy.

Friends can be important in preventing addiction and helping someone recover. They can give strength, keep you accountable, and be a good influence.

Good Friends Say No

Peer pressure can be a powerful influence, especially during adolescence. Friends who have your back can help you resist the urge to experiment with drugs.

  • Setting Boundaries: Talk to your friends openly about your decision not to use drugs. Set clear boundaries and communicate that you’re not interested.
  • Resisting Pressure: Practice saying no confidently. A true friend respects your choices, even if they differ from theirs.

5 Ways to Say No to Drugs

  1. Direct and Clear: “No, thanks. I’m not interested.”
  2. Offer an Excuse: “I’m driving later, so I can’t.”
  3. Suggest an Alternative: “Let’s go grab some pizza instead!”
  4. Use Humor: “Sorry, I’m already booked for a wild night of Netflix and snacks.”
  5. Walk Away: If you feel pressured, excuse yourself and find a more supportive environment.

Why Friends in Recovery Matter

Knowing someone who has overcome addiction can be incredibly motivating. Surrounding yourself with a positive support network can make a world of difference.

Friends in recovery can understand the challenges you’re facing, offering encouragement and practical advice. On top of that, having someone to hold you accountable for your goals can be a powerful motivator to stay on track.

Consider joining a support group with others going through similar experiences. It’s a safe place to talk about problems, celebrate wins, and build a community of understanding.

The Silent Drug

Many people don’t realize that even things like alcohol and prescription drugs can be addictive. It’s important to keep an eye out for that and be open with friends struggling with dependence on these substances.

By setting boundaries, offering support, and creating a positive environment, friends can play a vital role in both preventing addiction and supporting a loved one’s recovery journey.

Find Support and Start Healing

The road to recovery can be long, but remember, you are not alone. With the unwavering support of friends, family, and professional guidance, helping someone with addiction is absolutely possible. Even a small act of support can make a world of difference.

Ready to transform your life? We understand the challenges of addiction recovery, and we’re here to help. Contact us today for more information and resources to get you started on a path forward.

Recovery is possible! Take the first step towards a new life today.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drugs, alcohol or a dual diagnosis mental condition we are here to help. Our caring and compassionate admissions team is here for you, call today!
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